Government, Heritage Trains, Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), State

Far North Queensland’s rail and road recovery continues

Queensland Rail (QR) crews are working tirelessly to bring back Far North Queensland’s most iconic rail service, the Kuranda Scenic Rail to full timetable, following substantial damage caused by ex-tropical cyclone Jasper.

Despite the mammoth scope of recovery and ongoing rain in the tropical Far North Queensland region, major progress has been made thanks to the hard work of QR crews and contractors.

QR is working with the local community, tourism partners and all government agencies to potentially run a Kuranda Scenic Rail service on the weekends by late February, weather permitting.

Acting Transport and Main Roads Minister and Digital Services Minister Scott Stewart spoke about the work being done.

“Queensland Rail crews have been working as safely and quickly as possible to get services back up and running,” he said.

“Significant progress has been made onsite with 39 of the 61 damaged sites now cleared to allow access for work trains to begin removing soil from the area.

“I’d like to thank the many people from the Department of Transport and Main Roads, Queensland Rail, our partners, suppliers, and local councils for their tremendous efforts in reopening this part of the road ahead of schedule.”

Queensland Rail CEO Kat Stapleton expanded on the work needed to get the railway running again.

“Behind the scenes, we are investigating multiple ways to repair the range, working with key stakeholders and the community to find the best long-term sustainable solution,” she said.

“By late February, with the implementation of a track deviation, we hope to be able to run one return Kuranda Scenic Rail service on the weekends. This will allow our crews access to the track during the week to continue works to future-proof the rail corridor from extreme weather.

“We expect that our long-term works will be completed in late April to allow us to return to our full timetable, but we will continue to keep the community informed of any updates. Particularly, if recovery efforts are further hindered due to heavy rain or other severe weather events.

“I’d like to thank our Queensland Rail staff, contractors and emergency services who have helped to date, and who are continuing to help with the ongoing recovery.”

The Captain Cook Highway between Buchans Point and Oak Beach has reopened after major recovery and repair efforts following ex-Tropical Cyclone Jasper.

From today, road users can travel between Cairns and Port Douglas via the Captain Cook Highway.

The reopening reconnects local communities ahead of the school year and allows freight and other critical supplies to move between Cairns and Port Douglas. Several single-lane sections of the road will remain under traffic control.

In order to reopen this significantly impacted part of the Captain Cook Highway, recovery crews had to clear a large number of landslips and remove significant amounts of mud and debris.

All of the smaller slips have been cleared with about 75 per cent of the larger slips cleared and ready for stabilisation activities if required.

A total of 48 water structures (culverts) were either blocked with debris or required emergency repairs, with emergency works undertaken on about 70 per cent of the culverts so far.

Road users are advised to expect some delays due to traffic control in single lane sections of the Captain Cook Highway and are reminded to check for the latest road updates.

Separately, works to construct a temporary single-lane access on the critical freight route Palmerston Highway between Crawfords Lookout and Junction Road are progressing.

The Palmerston Highway sustained significant damage including major pavement slips. While the temporary single-lane route will restore access, repairs to the highway are expected to take an extended period of time.