Repairs on track as hundreds work on devastated western rail line

Accommodation camps are being set up at key sites as more than 400 Queensland Rail employees and contractors push ahead with efforts to repair the Mount Isa Line railway track.

Queensland Rail chief executive officer Nick Easy said the repairs – spearheaded by a project taskforce – were on schedule, with good progress continuing to be made.

“On Monday (4 March) our crews deemed the Richmond to Hughenden section open for all rail traffic, following final repairs to 50 damaged sites spanning 100km,” Mr Easy said.

“We are now working closely with our freight operators and their customers on options to restore services through this section and opportunities for freight to be loaded on and off trains at both Richmond and Hughenden.

“We will be continuing to work with our freight operators and their customers over the coming week to finalise these plans.”

Mr Easy said ongoing repair and recovery works for the remaining damaged section between Richmond and Cloncurry was on track, with crews progressively working from both east and west.

“We remain on track to reopen the entire Mount Isa Line between late-April and Mid-May, subject to construction and weather conditions.

“We are monitoring weather forecasts daily and are working with our crews to plan around the expected wet weather next week.”

T o combat wet conditions at many sites, crews have arranged for 3km of plastic matting – 28 semi-trailer loads – to be delivered.

They will use this matting to build access roads in areas which remain wet as repairs continue.

Mr Easy said with more than 400 Queensland Rail employees and contractors to be mobilised to Julia Creek and Richmond to accelerate the repair and recovery work, Queensland Rail had partnered with the Department of Public Works and Housing to establish workers camps at Richmond and Julia Creek.

“A 60-bed camp is being established in Richmond to accommodate employees and contractors working on the recovery and another 120-bed camp will also be set up in Julia Creek to accommodate recovery works at Nelia,” Mr Easy said.

“Accommodation presented a significant challenge for the recovery work, but now that a solution has been identified and is being implemented, the Taskforce is confident it can mobilise all of the crews and contractors required to accelerate the recovery program.

“Local contractors have been engaged to transport mobile, stackable buildings on trailers which will house workers unable to be accommodated in local motels and caravan parks and local suppliers in each town will also be hired to provide food, cleaning and supplies to the camps.

“The camps are expected to be operational within the next two weeks, if not earlier.”

He said Pacific National was in the final stages of establishing a crane pad and an appropriate access road to the overturned Pacific National train at Nelia, to enable the upcoming recovery of its train and wagons.

Summary of recovery works completed within the past week:

Eastern Track Team:

  • Ballasting and resurfacing completed Hughenden to Richmond and this section declared fit for rail traffic
  • Bridge works at O’Connell Creek and Carragh Creek completed
  • Track formation rebuild at O’Connell Creek completed and track relaying commenced
  • Track rebuild at Carragh Creek completed
  • Chatfield Creek bridge repairs have commenced
  • Access roads being constructed between Maxwelton and Nelia
  • Washout repairs to many of the sites ahead of schedule to allow for earthworks.

Western Track Team:

  • Site access has been built from Goldring St to Julia Creek bridge
  • Compacted rockfill has been built up on both sides of the rail embankment in preparation for formation works from Gilliat to Eastern Creek
  • Formation works have been completed from Gilliat to Tibarri in preparation for the relaying of rail and ballast
  • Contractors are completing installation of compacted rockfill and capping fill across several sites.

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