QR acquires land holdings for Central Queensland coal rail link

By: Graham Gardiner

The Queensland Government has acquired the land it needs to connect two major coal rail networks in central and northern

The Queensland Government has acquired the land it needs to connect two major coal rail networks in central and northern Queensland.

The previously privately-owned properties were needed to complete the proposed corridor for the ‘Northern Missing Link’ between the Goonyella and Newlands systems to give exporters more flexibility in getting coal to port.

Transport Minister John Mickel has also announced Leighton Contractors as QR's preferred construction partner for the Northern Missing Link Alliance.

"The 69km Northern Missing Link will provide a vital connection between the Goonyella and Newlands rail systems in Queensland's northern Bowen Basin coalfields," he says.

"Seven coal companies have underwritten the $27 million cost that the Government has injected for the detailed engineering design phase of the project.

"This is on top of an earlier $19 million commitment by the Government.

"We are now in the position to begin detailed design work an d geotechnical investigations as well as developing design costs for the civil component of the project and pre-construction works such as line corridor fencing.

"These early works will allow us to ensure the scope, cost and schedule of the project are accurate.

"We are continuing to work with indigenous stakeholders to finalise cultural heritage management plans."

Mickel says the land acquisition announcement highlights the Queensland Government's commitment to getting on with the job of building one of the most significant rail infrastructure projects undertaken in Australia in the past decade.

"I congratulate QR for progressing it so quickly," he says.

"With a total of $46 million now committed to the project, it's a significant investment in the future of the coal industry in Queensland."

Coal hauled on the Goonyella system is shipped out of Hay Point south of Mackay, while the Newlands system feeds Abbot Point north of Bowen.

Optional coal haulage routes made possible by the link would provide up to 30 million tonnes per annum of additional export capacity, as part of a $1.3 billion investment program in rail and port infrastructure.

The $120 million expansion of Abbot Point is expected to increase the port's capacity from 15 million tonnes per annum to 21 mtpa and boost coal export sales by about $500 million a year.

The Northern Missing Link could prompt the electrification of the Newlands system that for the moment is restricted to use by diesel locomotives.

QR has anticipated the green light for the line, having already ordered additional rollingstock worth $654 million for coal rail transport.

"The State Government has indicated it hopes coal will be moving along the corridor by 2010," Mickel says.

QR CEO Lance Hockridge says the completion of the Goonyella to Abbot Point Expansion Project, which includes the Northern Missing Link and improvements to the Goonyella and Newlands systems, will relieve pressure on the coal rail systems.

"We have developed a delivery strategy and timeframe to ensure the project will meet the expansion needs of the port," he says.

"An essential part of this strategy is to deliver the Northern Missing Link as an Alliance contract."

Hockridge says Leighton Contractors has been chosen for the high quality and expertise of its team, its experience in delivery of large scale civil projects and its strong affinity for alliance culture.

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