Environmental management

Consistent with our ​Environment Policy, Queensland Rail engages in proactive management to maintain compliance with applicable environmental legislation.

Queensland Rail maintains a documented Safety and Environmental Management System to communicate environmental requirements to staff. These requirements include pollution control, weed and pest management, sustainable design principles, and managing impacts from construction and maintenance activities.

Energy Management and Carbon Emissions

National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting

Queensland Rail monitors its energy use and emissions and provides annual reporting to the Federal Government. The following chart shows Queensland Rail’s reporting of carbon emissions since the 2010/11 financial year.

NGER Chart.png 

The largest portion of Queensland Rail’s carbon emissions arise from the supply of traction electricity to our electric trains.

To keep our efficiency on track:

  • Train movements including energy use are extensively modelled.
  • A number of Queensland Rail’s trains utilise regenerative braking to feed electricity back into the traction network.
  • The Queensland Government is investing in a new generation of rollingstock. These modern trains will help Queensland Rail to improve the energy efficiency of services delivered. Details of this project can be found at the Department’s website – New Generation Rollingstock Project
  • Additional peak hour trains have improved passenger comfort and the uptake of commuting by rail, thereby helping to take cars off the road.

Vegetation Management

Queensland Rail manages vegetation to ensure the safety and reliability of our operations, whilst also supporting environmental outcomes.
Regular vegetation maintenance is undertaken to ensure the safe and reliable functioning of the network, the protection of assets and the safety of customers, workers and the community. If not managed effectively, vegetation may reduce visibility of safety critical signage and signals, increase risk of wildfire, or damage rail infrastructure including electric traction infrastructure.

As an electrical entity under the Electrical Safety Act 2002 Queensland Rail has obligations to ensure electrical safety, and an important component of this is managing vegetation within and near electric traction infrastructure. Trees and other vegetation must be prevented from encroaching within the electrical clearance space. Regular maintenance is conducted across our network to manage this risk.

Inappropriate plantings on neighbouring properties can impact the integrity of rail infrastructure, including electric traction infrastructure. Large trees and palms, bamboo and some vigorous climbers are not appropriate as they can pose a significant risk to the rail network.

Queensland Rail encourages neighbouring properties to refer to and follow the excellent guidance provided by Energex and Ergon Energy when selecting suitable plants for use near electric traction infrastructure.
For neighbours in South East Queensland - access information on Energex’s Safetree initiative via the Energex Safetree webpage  or download the Safe Tree Factsheet.

For neighbours north of Gympie – refer to the Ergon Energy website for information about their Plantsmart Program. The Plantsmart program is a collaborative partnership between Ergon Energy, Greening Australia, local Councils and local plant nurseries. Local Councils participating in the Plant Smart program publish brochures for their region. A full list is available via the Plant Smart Council Brochures webpage .

Queensland Rail also recognises the benefits of vegetation for wildlife conservation and habitat provision and connectivity, erosion control and bank stability, and for shade and amenity for our neighbours and customers. We encourage the retention and protection of appropriate vegetation where possible.

Weed and Pest Management

Ongoing maintenance occurs in our rail corridors to keep them free of high priority weeds. These weeds are identified and monitored. Infestations are then treated as required.

Pest animal control occurs as needed to prevent high priority pest animals building up in numbers. Vegetation management occurs to prevent the harbourage of pest animals on the rail corridor.

Queensland Rail often works in partnership with adjacent landholders, Councils and other State government agencies to coordinate the control of weeds and pests in a collaborative manner. This approach helps to prevent weeds and pests from establishing or spreading along the rail network or on neighbouring properties.

Provision of Environmental Offsets

Construction works can sometimes have an impact on significant environmental values. For example - koala habitat in SEQ, protected vegetation, wildlife habitat, wetlands of high ecological significance, or fish habitat areas. Environmental offsets are a way to make up for the impact.

Offset actions can include:

  • Improvement and protection of alternative sites
  • Actions that improve environmental viability
  • Actions that provide a conservation outcome equivalent to the value being lost

The Queensland Environmental Offsets Policy governs the assessment of offset proposals and offset conditions.

An ‘avoid, mitigate, offset’ framework applies to development. This means that in designing works, impacts to the environment should be avoided in the first place, wherever possible.

If impacts can’t be avoided, then the extent of the impacts should be carefully managed and minimised (mitigated). These measures can reduce and, in some cases, remove the need for offsets.

If there is still a significant impact to the environmental values then an offset may be required. In cases where the affected environmental value cannot be offset, the activity may not be approved.

In coordination with offset providers, Queensland Rail works to determine offset obligations and opportunities, and to provide offsets as:

  • Land-based offsets (vegetation protection, revegetation or rehabilitation)
  • Financial settlement offsets
  • Combinations of a land based offsets and a financial settlement offsets

Financial settlement offset payments (for State-required offsets) are managed by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP). The funds are applied to implementing offset projects throughout the State.

Waste Management

Queensland Rail manages its waste responsibly. All waste is disposed of by licensed waste contractors.
Waste is recycled where possible, including scrap metal, timber, paper, industrial waste, waste oils, as well as some hazardous waste. Public recycling bins are available at some stations.

Ballast Rock Reuse and Recycling

Very large volumes of ballast rock are used to provide a foundation for the network’s track and sleepers. Over time, ballast rock becomes worn down meaning that its drainage capacity is reduced, due to the build-up of dust and soil fines. Large ballast renewal machines work to help to turn over the ballast to increase the service life of the ballast.  At the end of its service life ballast needs to be removed and replaced.

Queensland Rail now segregates and stores ballast spoil. The ballast spoil is then sieved, screened and separated into re-usable product. The larger ballast spoil is screened and cleaned for reuse. The smaller ballast rock is crushed down and used as road base or fill material.