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Northern Missing Link surges ahead

The first stretch of track for the Northern Missing Link, the cornerstone of QR National’s $1.1bn Goonyella to Abbot Point (GAP expansion project, was laid on Monday.

The $385m Northern Missing Link would see some 69km of track join the existing Goonyella and Newlands coal rail systems.

Along with expansion and upgrading of existing track and 15 new bridges along the Newlands system, including associated rail unloading infrastructure at Abbot Point Coal Terminal, once at full capacity the GAP project would enable coal companies to double coal tonnages railed to the terminal to 50m tonnes per annum.

QR National chief executive Lance Hockridge said the Northern Missing Link was a critical piece of national infrastructure that would help Australia meet growing global demand for coal exports.

“The Northern Missing Link is a well-timed, crucial investment in Queensland’s coal supply chain,” Hockridge said.

“It will significantly improve flexibility in the Goonyella and Newlands coal systems, allowing more coal to moved to port more efficiently and, in turn, facilitating higher export revenue for the nation over the coming years.”

In a further landmark for the project, a new balloon loop was commissioned at the Abbot Point Coal Terminal near Bowen on Monday, providing coal customers with increased flexibility for unloading their trains at the port.

Hockridge said QR National was “right on track” for trains to start running on the Northern Missing Link from early 2012, enabling an immediate boost to coal tonnages from the central Bowen Basin.