Master Plan focuses on rail corridor’s future

Major growth opportunities for QR’s Mount Isa-Townsville rail corridor have been flagged in a draft master plan that aims to meet the mining industry’s future transport needs.

QR Network Access Group General Manager Michael Carter tells the annual Mount Isa-based Mining the Isa Expo that a draft Mount Isa System Master Plan will be released within weeks for industry discussion.

“The corridor is one of Australia’s most important, playing a vital role in helping move exports from the massive North-West Queensland minerals province along the supply chain to port,” Carter says.

“We’re planning for increased demand spurred by future growth in the province, which has some of the world’s largest deposits of copper, lead-zinc-silver and phosphate rock, and substantial deposits of gold, uranium and other minerals.”

Carter says QR Network Access was finalising the Master Plan, which explored infrastructure and operational options under low, medium and high-growth scenarios over 10 years.

“The Master Plan primarily outlines rail infrastructure projects that complement potential developments by mines, ports and rail operators,” he says.

“It enables us to listen and work with our customers and partners and carefully plan to meet their future needs for additional capacity.”

Carter says about 4.2 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of rail freight is currently hauled on the line, with excess capacity immediately available to transport increased production from existing and new customers.

However, he says the draft Master Plan will look at low, medium and high-growth scenarios of 5.1, 7.5 and 20.5 mtpa respectively.

“We have identified a number of opportunities to improve capacity including track duplications to reduce potential bottlenecks into Townsville port, upgrading the track to improve capability and reliability and installing remote control signalling for greater economic return,” Carter says.

He says the Master Plan involves consultation with all interested parties on the supply chain, including existing and potential mines, rail operators, ports, local councils, state and federal governments.

In 2005, QR initiated a five-year $232 million investment program on the corridor, and since then has achieved significant performance improvements on the line.

This has largely been the result of an ongoing track improvement program which has achieved the following:

  • A doubling of the transport task to 6.9 billion gross tonne kilometres.
  • A reduction in transit times by 2.5 hours, or nearly 10 per cent.
  • An improvement in overall track condition, which measures geometry or smoothness of the track, of nearly 50 per cent.
  • An 80% reduction in infrastructure-caused derailments, from 11 per year to just two.

QR Network Access delivers access to QR’s rail network, manages the track assets and develops new infrastructure on the network.

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend