QR National have re-opened parts of the flood-impacted Blackwater coal rail network, 24 hours ahead of the planned resumption of services on 20th January.
QR National Managing Director & CEO Lance Hockridge said the first loaded coal trains will begin heading to the port of Gladstone soon after 6pm.
“As soon as our track gangs complete the repairs at Dawson River, we’ll have coal trains rolling through the area,” he said.
“Our crews have done an extraordinary job in recovering track across the coal network in the aftermath of unprecedented floods across Queensland.
“We’ve mobilised an enormous amount of expertise, equipment and people resources to get services back as soon as possible.
“In general, the network has endured well through these incredible floods. The majority of recovery work has been confined to stabilising the formation on which the rail sits, re-aligning the track in some locations and replacing ballast that has been scoured by the floodwaters.
“Our continuing focus now will be working closely with our mining customers and with all players across the supply chain to maximise coal tonnages in coming days, weeks and months.”
The Blackwater track is now available for mines from Burngrove (near Blackwater) east to Gladstone port.
From Monday 24 January, the track is scheduled to be available to mines on the (northern) Gregory branch.
Repairs to the track west of Burngrove are expected to be completed by Tuesday, 25 January. This will allow coal to be transported from the Minerva mine.
These track openings to the north and west of Burngrove are subject to no further heavy rain occurring in coming days.
The remaining link on the Blackwater network, the 110km spur to Xstrata’s Rolleston mine, is being assessed in detail following the receding of floodwaters. The re-opening date is yet to be confirmed. QR National has established a project team with Xstrata to manage this recovery work.
With the re-opening of the Blackwater line, this means that all four of QR National’s coal networks (Newlands, Goonyella, Blackwater and Moura) are open.
“We’re pleased to have re-started most operations across Queensland for our customers and look forward to ramping up services and system capacity over coming weeks,” Mr Hockridge said.
QR National also operates a smaller number of general freight and coal services across other rail infrastructure owned by government-owned corporation Queensland Rail. The current status of these services is:
- QR National’s general freight services along the North Coast Line to locations beyond Gladstone to Cairns are on track to re-commence later today (Jan 19) following the repair of track damaged by floodwaters at Rockhampton.
- In southern Queensland, QR National is unable to operate coal, grain and general freight services west of Brisbane because of flooding and damage to the rail line on the Toowoomba Range following a landslide on 10 January. On 17 January, the Queensland Transport Minister advised damage to infrastructure is significant and it could take three months to re-build bridges and tracks. QR National is continuing to work with Queensland Rail to assist where it can with recovery of the track infrastructure across the Toowoomba Range, so services can be returned to our customers as soon as possible.