Feb 20, 2019

Rail repair crews mobilise as full scale of damage revealed

Rail repair crews mobilise as full scale of damage revealed

Queensland Rail has outlined the host of problems on the Mount Isa Line being revealed as floodwaters recede.

Chief executive officer Nick Easy said engineers and recovery crews have identified damage across 307km of track between Hughenden and Cloncurry, with extreme erosion identified at 204 sites.

“This includes approximately 40km of major track washouts and 20km of track scouring and work is now underway to confirm required repairs and expected recovery timeframes, taking into account optimum use of all industry resources, plant and equipment,” he said. 

“All available resources are being mobilised to undertake repairs, including engineers and track teams from South East Queensland, to ensure we return the Mount Isa Line to full operation as soon as possible.

“At this stage Queensland Rail believes the line can be fixed earlier than the 6 – 12 months that has been suggested and reported. We will continue to keep stakeholders and the community informed of these plans and timeframes.”

Part of the recovery work will include clearing the area at Nelia 50km east of Julia Creek, where a Pacific National train loaded with mineral products was inundated and wagons overturned on February 7.

“Any environmental impacts caused by this incident will be taken very seriously,” Mr Easy said.

“On Friday, 15 February the Department of Environment and Science issued a ‘Clean Up Notice’ to Queensland Rail, Pacific National and Glencore outlining the key requirements for the site including containment, monitoring, assessment and remediation.

“This Clean Up Notice supports the approach already adopted by the parties, and Queensland Rail, Pacific National and Glencore are engaging the services of an independent environmental specialist to assist with achieving the requirements of the notice.”

Early inspections showed much of the mineral concentrates had remained in the train’s wagons, but that 19 wagons carrying zinc concentrate and two carrying lead concentrate sustained damage, he said.

Mount Isa Line recovery snapshot:

  • 307km track impacted between Cloncurry and Hughenden
  • 204 sites have sustained extreme erosion
  • About 40km of major track washouts
  • About 20km of track scour damage
  • 71 bridges along the line have now been inspected and 16 confirmed as damaged
  • 100,000 cubic metres of ballast or fill will be required for repairs
  • 10,000 sleepers have been delivered to Hughenden and Cloncurry
  • Julia Creek to Oorindi remains inaccessible via ground, with inspections being undertaken by drone
  • Repair works already commenced from Richmond to Hughenden – expected to reopen this section within a week
  • In addition to challenging ground conditions in some areas, QR teams will be facing extreme heat conditions of more than 40 degrees

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