Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Freight Rail, Track Construction

Queensland Rail records sweetest year in freight transport

In 2023, the Queensland Rail network was used to transport more than 1.4 million tonnes of sugar, the most recorded since 2019.

Queensland Rail Head of Regional Scott Cornish said it was fantastic to see the growth in freight movement go hand in hand with Queensland’s population increase and economic activity.

“With Queensland’s population continuing to grow at a rapid pace, we know that moving commodities and goods is just as important as moving people across the state,” Cornish said.

“2023 proved to be a sweet success with our freight operators moving the greatest amount of sugar we’ve seen in the last five years with more than 1.4 million tonnes recorded.

“1.4 million tonnes of sugar can make around 14 billion batches of milk arrowroot biscuits.

“Last year, we also saw more than 950,000 tonnes of grain transported on our rail network – the most recorded in the last decade.

“We know how important our rail network is to connecting communities, and ensuring people can receive the goods they need, when they need them.

“That’s why we are committed to improving and maintaining our assets that span more than 6,600 kilometres across the state through projects like our $77 million North Coast line capacity improvement, which will see freight trains being able to extend in length from around 650 metres to 950 metres.”

Cornish said Queensland Rail also maintained a strong focus on strengthening the resilience of the network, with the state being no stranger to natural disasters.

“The start of 2024 presented many challenges for our freight and customer operations, with ex-tropical cyclone Jasper and ex-tropical cyclone Kirrily forcing a shutdown of our North Coast, Mount Isa and Central West lines, bringing freight and customer services to a halt,” he said.

“While nothing can withstand the throws of mother nature, our crews are always ready to inspect, repair and restore our vital transport corridors to get services back up and running as safely and quickly as possible.

“Following record volumes of rainfall in the wake of ex-tropical cyclone Jasper, our crews were able to reopen the North Coast line in less than a week with 3,000 cubic metres of ballast, tonnes of road base and flood rock materials used for the repairs.

“The Mount Isa line also sustained significant damage from severe flooding caused by ex-tropical cyclone Kirrily. A taskforce of 90 employees and contractors were stood up to clear fallen trees and debris, repair 11 major washouts and replace 255 sleepers and 7,500 tonnes of ballast.

“We are extremely grateful for the hard work of all involved to get the lines back up and running as safely and quickly as possible, re-establishing this important freight and passenger connection.

“Despite a wet start to the year, we look forward to continuing to work with our freight partners to grow the volume of freight being moved across the state in 2024.”