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Mount Isa line reopens following Mingela derailment

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> Queensland Rail reopened the Mount Isa line a week ahead of schedule after a train derailment at Mingela on March 24, however, the incident has sparked concerns over the quality of rail infrastructure in the north of the state. </span> <p>21 wagons from an Aurizon train carrying Xstrata zinc concentrate derailed just after 7am on Sunday March 24, at Mingela, south-west of Townsville.</p><p>Queensland’s minister for transport and main roads Scott Emerson immediately announced an investigation was to be undertaken by Queensland’s Rail Safety Regulator, calling the incident “significant.”</p><p>At the time, Emerson said the line was expected to take up to two weeks to reopen.</p><p>But on Saturday the line was reopened, a week ahead of that timeline.</p><p>“Crews from Xstrata and freight train operator Aurizon have worked together to unload the wagons, before removing them from the site,” Queensland Rail said over the weekend.</p><p>Crews worked over the long weekend to get the track back online. Queensland Rail’s ‘Inlander’ passenger services up until Monday were replaced by coaches.</p><p>Queensland Rail says it is working with Aurizon to gather more information surrounding the incident so it can investigate the cause of the derailment.</p><p>“It is too early to speculate on the outcome of the investigation,” Queensland Rail acting CEO Jim Benstead said.</p><p>The incident has caused several political and community leaders to question the quality of rail infrastructure in north Queensland.</p><p>Mayor of the north Queensland community of Richmond John Wharton was quoted by the ABC as saying, “the government had $50m put into that line – the Bligh government – and it disappeared in a puff of dust.”</p><p>“These guys have been struggling on this railway line to try to fix this thing and patch it up for a long, long time and this latest derailment just shows how bad a condition this line is in.”</p><p>But Emerson defended the government’s treatment of the rail line.</p><p>“The Mount Isa line has become one of our most important freight routes and sections of it need upgrading as capacity grows beyond the current 100 trains a week,” he said.</p><p>“A plan to upgrade the line currently forms part of Queensland’s submission to the federal government’s Nation Building 2 program,” he added.</p>