Mount Isa line recovery plan

In response to the unprecedented flood event experienced in North West Queensland in January, Queensland Rail is committed to leading the recovery of more than 200 kilometres of flood-damaged track on the Mount Isa line. Up to 400 employees and contractors have been working to repair the line which is expected to re-open Monday 29 April 2019, subject to favourable weather and construction conditions.

Recovery of the Pacific National train at Nelia

A Pacific National freight train stowed at Nelia, 50 kilometres from Julia Creek and approximately 300 kilometres east of Mount Isa, was significantly impacted by flood waters, causing the train to derail. The train consists of one locomotive and 81 wagons which were storing a mixture of minerals including zinc, lead, and copper anodes. Pacific National has now removed the wagons and locomotive and environmental remediation work is underway. 

Queensland Rail has built an 1.2-kilometre rail deviation around the Nelia site, which will enable trains to resume through Nelia once broader repairs along the line are complete.

 ​The Mount Isa line is expected to re-open Monday 29 April 2019, subject to favourable weather and construction conditions. 

Mount Isa line section
​Status​Further information

​Townsville to Hughenden


• ​Line open, all damage repaired

Hughenden to Richmond


• ​Line open, all damage repaired

Richmond to Gemoka


• Final resurfacing works underway

​Gemoka to Maxwelton


Final resurfacing works underway

​Maxwelton to Nonda


Final resurfacing works underway

​Nonda to Nelia


Final resurfacing works underway

​Nelia Yard/deviation


• 1.2-kilometre rail deviation around the Nelia site is complete

• Environmental remediation works underway

​Nelia to Quarrels


​• Final resurfacing works underway

​Quarrels to Julia Creek


​• Final resurfacing works underway

​Julia Creek to Gilliat


​• Final resurfacing works underway

​Gilliat to Tibarri


Final resurfacing works underway

​Tibarri to Oorindi

• ​Line open, all damage repaired

​Oorindi to Mount Isa


​• ​Line open, all damage repaired

Status map

Update as at 17 April: Mount Isa rail line on track for April re-opening

The Mount Isa rail line is expected to re-open Monday, April 29, restoring one of Queensland’s most important freight routes.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said more than 400 Queensland Rail staff and contractors had worked 160,000 hours over the past 10 weeks to repair rail infrastructure between Oorindi and Hughenden after an unprecedented monsoonal weather event hit the region.

“The Mount Isa Line plays a critical role connecting our region’s industries and communities," Mr Bailey said.

“When the line experienced this catastrophic event, the Palaszczuk Government made its repair a top priority.

“More than 200 sites across 300 kilometres of the rail line required repairs, including from Hughenden to Richmond, Maxwelton to Nonda, and Tibarri to Oorindi, where there was significant flooding, washouts and erosion.

“Over 47 kilometres of track and 38 bridge abutments were damaged, requiring over 120,000 tonnes of ballast to repair the line.

“Every resource has been made available to accelerate recovery works, and I’m pleased to announce Queensland Rail expects to reopen the full length of the 1000km Mount Isa line from Monday April 29.

“I’d like to extend my sincerest thanks to all involved in making sure the Mount Isa line could be repaired as quickly as possible.”

Queensland Rail CEO Nick Easy said final repair works are now underway between Nonda and Quarrels.

“Final works to be completed over the next week include ballast train drops and resurfacing, while final inspections and test trains have run the line, prior to the track reopening,” Mr Easy said.

“At Nelia, the rail line has been rebuilt on a deviated route to allow trains to pass through the area while remediation works continue.

“Temporary transport facilities at Richmond and Hughenden will continue to be available until the line fully re-opens." 

Mr Easy said the dedication of the taskforce and crews, despite difficult working conditions, ensured communities along the Mount Isa Line were connected with the rest of the state as quickly as possible.

“Staff and contractors have gone above and beyond for what was a momentous challenge to get freight moving again in the state’s north west,” Mr Easy said.

“There were many local contractors who travelled to site from Townsville, Ingham, Rockhampton, Cloncurry, Richmond, and Mount Isa to assist our crews with a range of works including earthworks, traffic control and crane hire.

“Queensland Rail’s crews could also not have done it without support from TMR and the Department of Housing and Public Works, which helped to house hundreds of workers in temporary accommodation so the job could be done more quickly.

“I thank and congratulate everyone involved for getting the job done on time and to a high standard.”

Previous public statements can be found here:

Recovery and repairs
  Flooding and damage



April 2019

March 2019