Below Rail Infrastructure, Freight Rail

First beef train to Oakey in two decades

The first cattle train in two decades has rolled into Oakey, in Queensland’s Darling Downs region, after the state government invested $2.5 million in rail facilities.

Transport minister Stirling Hinchliffe and minister for agriculture and rural economic development Bill Byrne visited Oakey Abattoir this week to celebrate the first rail shipment of beef livestock from Quilpie, over 800 kilometres away.

The shipment is thanks to a $2.5 million investment from the Palaszczuk Government to upgrade two rail sidings, and reopen part of the Cecil Plains branch line, which was closed in 1994. More than 1900 sleepers and 2,300 tonnes of ballast were used to rebuild a 1.3-kilometre section of the Cecil Plains line.

The investment allows Oakey Beef Exports to move cattle by rail from Quilpie, Charleville, Morven, Roma and Mitchell.

“Critical to the creation of a new western supply corridor for Oakey Beef Exports was the reopening of the part of the Cecil Plains line adjacent to the abattoir and an upgrade of the rail siding at Mitchell for easier loading and processing,” Hinchliffe said.

“It’s great to witness the first cattle train to arrive in Oakey for more than 20 years,” Byrne added.

“The South West already has a great reputation as one of Queensland’s leading producers of beef and can now reach national and international markets quickly and more efficiently.”

Byrne said one trainload of cattle is the equivalent of up to 44 decks of cattle being delivered by B-Double trucks. “The train saves haulage costs for producers and pressure on the Warrego Highway,” he explained.

State treasurer Curtis Pitt said the state’s rail transport initiative was expected to be the catalyst for a $60 million expansion of the Oakey Abattoir.

“The Palaszczuk Government’s investment is an enabler for a significant upgrade of the abattoir that’s expected to return more than a billion dollars in extra economic activity across the region,” the treasurer said.

“It’s a rail-led expansion that the abattoir predicts will support up to 4,300 jobs for the Darling Downs and South Western Queensland with beef processing already the state’s largest agricultural export industry.”

General Manager of abattoir owner NH Foods Australia, Pat Gleeson said the new supply corridor and expansion plans could potentially double abattoir production.

“For our business and regional communities, today’s 800-kilometre delivery of fat cows and bullocks to Oakey is a triumph and demonstrates the Palaszczuk Government’s understanding of the importance of rail freight infrastructure for economic growth,” Gleeson said.