Work has began in South West Queensland on a $2.5 million project to upgrade rail infrastructure, including re-opening old lines, to support growing economic activity in the region.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the expansion would unlock the potential for $1.3 billion in economic activity around the region and support more than 4,300 jobs.

The project will also support the multi-million dollar expansion of Oakey Beef Exports.

“Over the coming months Queensland Rail crews will work to upgrade a rail siding at Mitchell and re-open a section of the old Cecil Plains branch line, which has been out of service for more than ten years,” the Premier said.

“The upgrade will allow cattle services to operate from Quilpie, Charleville, Morven, Roma and Mitchell to Oakey, which is critical to allow Oakey Beef Exports to undertake a multi-million dollar plant expansion and double its output.

“The works to re-open the Cecil Plains branch line will first involve removing the old track and completing earthworks, before crews work to construct 1.3km of upgraded track, laying more than 1900 sleepers and about 2300 tonnes of ballast.”

Ms Palaszczuk said the investment will generate economic benefits within Oakey and surrounding areas, delivering a major boost for regional jobs and bolster economic confidence in this region.

Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt and Minister for Transport Stirling Hinchliffe said Queensland Rail work had begun in August 2016 to upgrade a rail siding and re-open part of a disused branch line that runs adjacent to the Oakey Beef facility, allowing it to reinstate rail freight movements.

“Queensland Rail is also continuing to work with Oakey Beef Exports to look for further opportunities to upgrade rail infrastructure on the Western line, to facilitate further growth for freight in South West Queensland,” Mr Pitt said

Mr Pitt said the project, including the upgrade of the Mitchell siding, is expected to be completed by early November 2016.

“Queensland Rail prides itself on being a good neighbour in the community and they have assured me all works will be completed during daylight hours only and any expected noise from construction will be communicated in advance to nearby landowners,” Mr Pitt said.

Mr Hinchliffe said this rail infrastructure upgrade project reflected the Queensland Government’s commitment to investing in rail freight to support the agricultural industry and jobs growth for the state.

“The Government is also investing $32.4 million for the Toowoomba Range Clearance Upgrade project, which will to help boost regional freight capacity between the Darling Downs and the Port of Brisbane,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“This project involves lowering tunnel floors to allow the clearance of 9’6” high freight shipping containers, which are increasingly used to export goods, across the range.”

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