More than $24 million in track upgrades are pushing ahead to bolster the reliability of Queensland’s western rail system, making it more durable and resilient to weather impacts, while supporting more than 220 local jobs.
Transport and Roads Minister Mark Bailey said work had begun to stabilise slopes on the Toowoomba Range and renew ageing timber rail bridges between Dalby and Chinchilla for better durability and drainage.
“These works are funded through the $5.868 billion investment in rail from the Palaszczuk Government’s record $27.5 billion four-year roads and transport plan,” he said.
“This plan is creating 24,000 jobs and driving Queensland’s economic recovery from not only COVID-19, but also the recent weather events.
“Western rail systems were hit hard by the record-rain event, including 30 landslips on the Toowoomba Range and significant washouts, sinkholes, and damage from water inundation.
“This $24 million investment will help the network better withstand the impacts of heavy rainfall, by stabilising slopes on the range and improving drainage, while making rail bridges more durable.
“Investigations have commenced on Stage 2 of the Toowoomba Range Slope Stabilisation project to reduce the risk of landslides on the Range, thereby increasing safety and reducing disruption to the line.
“These investigations and monitoring at seven high-risk sites along the range will determine priority areas for drainage improvements and slope stabilisation.
“Bore drilling is underway at these sites to determine ground conditions, while engineering teams continue to monitor for any ground movement to improve safety and reliability of the line into the future.
“A tender for remediation works on a separate embankment, deemed high-risk, will be offered later this year as part of Stage 2.
“It builds on Stage 1, completed last year, which saw $37 million invested to improve drainage and stabilise slopes near Spring Bluff.
“I’m pleased to say the area completed in Stage 1 saw no landslips and minimal damage in the recent weather event.”
Bailey said in another boost for the western rail system, VEC Civil Engineering had been awarded the contract to replace piers on 11 ageing timber rail bridges, while Queensland Rail would complete total bridge replacements at a further 3 locations.
“This upgrade will see ageing timber structures replaced with concrete and steel to increase their strength and durability and reduce ongoing maintenance requirements,” he said.
“While Queensland Rail is working to eliminate ageing timber bridges from locations in its network for the same benefits.
“Our western rail line is an important freight link and passenger transport corridor, and the Palaszczuk Government is committed to investing in this critical rail infrastructure to ensure it remains safe and reliable into the future.”
Future plans for the Western Downs include the Toowoomba to Brisbane Passenger Rail, business case in planning, and the Gowrie to Grandchester Rail Corridor Study, also in planning.
The design process for the timber bridge renewal project is currently underway, with major construction expected to begin in September.