The Queensland Government has approved three more projects on the Mount Isa rail line, as part of a $50 million investment to improve freight mobility from the Port of Townsville.

As part of the investment, Queensland Rail will look at enabling double-stacked trains to run from Mount Isa to Stuart, and potentially to the Port of Townsville, with a business case being finalised in late-2020.

The business case will finalise the cost of the initiative and ensure there will be sufficient demand for double stacking.

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mark Bailey, said, “Supporting our industries and this crucial supply chain is part of our economic plan for recovery and jobs.

“Across the globe, economies, including Queensland’s, have felt the brunt of COVID-19. 

“But, because we’re managing those health impacts, we’re able to continue rolling out a record $23 billion pipeline of transport and road upgrades to create jobs throughout the state.

“This announcement is part of the more than half-a-billion dollars already being invested in the north-west supply chain over the next five years, and $1 billion in new roads funding announced by our government since April.”

Member for Townsville, Scott Stewart, said the multi-million dollar investment will also see major investment in improving flood resilience on the line and replacement of aging rail equipment like sleepers and ballast.

“As part of driving better flood resilience, Queensland Rail will start geotechnical and survey work this month, to pave the way for the installation of new bridges and the replacement of culverts with spans and new piers,” Mr Stewart said.

“Those works will significantly increase capacity on waterway openings and provide protection to embankments to better withstand flood events.

“This $50 million vote of confidence in the region is about supporting jobs and the industry’s recovery from COVID-19 by strengthening supply chains for domestic and overseas markets.”

$6 million in works are already underway to bolster flood resilience between Cloncurry and Hughenden, plus the $20 million of the Queensland Government’s $80 million, four-year plan to encourage freight operators to use the rail line had been accessed.

Port of Townsville, CEO, Ranee Crosby, welcomed the investment announcement which underpins the importance of ensuring the supply chain remains competitive.

“Townsville Port is Australia’s largest exporter of zinc, copper, lead and fertiliser, with significant growth opportunities from the North-West Minerals Province, one of the world’s richest mineral-producing regions,” Ms Crosby said.

“These investments into the Mount Isa to Townsville Rail Line, such as enabling double-stacking of containers on rail, will offer customers greater flexibility in transporting freight to the port, improving efficiency and helping drive down supply chain costs.”

Queensland Rail CEO, Nick Easy, said the latest investments were further proof of the organisation’s commitment to the Mount Isa line.

“The Mount Isa line is a critical connector for communities in North West Queensland and one of the state’s key freight paths, and Queensland Rail is committed to ensuring it meets the needs of communities and freight operators,” Mr Easy said.

“These investments will help existing mining operators export their resources and encourage new investment in the state’s north west.

“Queensland Rail prides itself as a major employer in the region, directly supporting more than 80 jobs on the Mount Isa line and the local communities in which they are based.”

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