Track record needs a fix

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - JOHN AN­DER­SEN john. an­der­sen@ news. com. au

THE dys­func­tional na­ture of the Great North­ern Rail­way is fan­ning the flames for the con­struc­tion of a new line be­tween Mount Isa and Dar­win.

The 900km Great North­ern Rail­way be­tween Townsville and Mount Isa has been the sub­ject of com­plaint and crit­i­cisms for the past decade.

Over re­cent months may­ors and politi­cians along the line have been crit­i­cal of its man­age­ment and main­te­nance.

Ques­tions have been asked as to why trucks were cart­ing so much min­eral and other min­ing re­lated ma­te­rial along the Flin­ders High­way when there was a rail­way line run­ning par­al­lel to the road.

Richmond Mayor John Wharton said the tracks of the Great North­ern Rail­way would dis­ap­pear un­der grass if the State Gov­ern­ment didn’t act to im­prove freight vol­umes along the line. He said the line was op­er­at­ing well be­low its po­ten­tial.

Queens­land Rail chief ex­ec­u­tive Nick Easy said the de­part­ment was com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing rail in­fra­struc­ture along the line. “We have in­vested $ 58 mil­lion in the last fi­nan­cial year in im­prov­ing the per­for­mance of the line,” Mr Easy said.

He said the de­part­ment was un­der­tak­ing a $ 25 mil­lion project to re­place 51km of steel sleep­ers along the line be­tween Ju­lia Creek and Mount Isa.

Cr Wharton said the poor per­for­mance of the line de- manded that a new line be built 670km from Mount Isa to Ten­nant Creek where it would join the Ade­laide to Dar­win line.

“This should be a pri­or­ity Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment na­tion build­ing project,” Cr Wharton said.

We are try­ing to de­velop North­ern Aus­tralia. This new line is what we need to help build this part of the na­tion. We need to link the Townsville and Dar­win ports.”

Mount Isa Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Travis Crowther said a rail link be­tween his city and Dar­win would “open the coun­try up”.

“There are on­go­ing is­sues with the Townsville to Mount Isa rail line. Hav­ing a link to Dar­win would mean be­ing able to send min­eral prod­uct out of there,” Mr Crowther said.

Clon­curry gra­zier Jac­que­line Curley said ex­tend­ing the line from Mount Isa to Dar­win would be good for the cat­tle and min­ing in­dus­tries.

“There would be times we’d use it to send cat­tle to Dar­win for live ex­port. It would take a lot of trucks off the road that are now car­ry­ing min­ing freight. It would open the coun­try up and she said.

Gra­zier and former Clon­curry Shire coun­cil­lor Jane McMil­lan said it would be a “break­through” if Mount Isa was con­nected to Dar­win by rail line.

“It would open links be­tween Dar­win and Townsville. The trou­ble is the Townsville to Mount Isa line is so ter­ri­ble the min­ing com­pa­nies are putting their prod­uct on the road,” she said.

Dar­win Cham­ber of Com­merce CEO Greg Bick­nell said there were large phos­phate de­posits on the North­ern Ter­ri­tory side of the bor­der that could be mined and shipped out of Dar­win.

“We have a port that needs more cargo move­ments, more min­eral freight,” he said.

Tom Ryan from the North­ern Ter­ri­tory Cat­tle­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion said a Mount IsaTen­nant Creek- Dar­win rail link would open up trade links be­tween North­ern Aus­tralia, China and South East Asia.

“We al­ready get a lot of cat­tle com­ing into the Ter­ri­tory from Queens­land. Hav­ing a rail link would re­duce trans­port costs. It would help us move grain and ma­chin­ery into the Ter­ri­tory and it would help us get our cat­tle out to Queens­land,” he said. cre­ate jobs,”

WASTED: Richmond Mayor John Wharton says the Great North­ern Rail­way is op­er­at­ing be­low its po­ten­tial. Pic­ture: SCOTT RAD­FORD- CHISHOLM

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.