$400m Qld coal train network upgrade gets green light

By: Jason Whittaker


A massive $400 million upgrade to the coal train network near Sarina in North Queensland will help lift exports by

A massive $400 million upgrade to the coal train network near Sarina in North Queensland will help lift exports by 38 million tonnes from 2010, Premier Anna Bligh told State Parliament this morning.

"The Jilalan Rail Yard upgrade is a key part of the State's coal infrastructure plans and will combine with expansions of Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay coal terminals to lift exports by 40 percent," she says.

Construction on the project will start next month and be finished by the end of next year, Bligh says. It will employ 300 workers during construction and deliver another 100 jobs when operational.

"Built in 1971, the current rail yard south-east of Sarina can only cope with 92 million tonnes of coal per annum. The new yard will be capable of handling 130 million tonnes per annum," she says.

The Coordinator-General has released his assessment report on the environmental impact statement for the upgrade, approving the project with conditions including noise and dust monitoring, environmental management plans and road infrastructure improvements.

Site earthworks will involve moving more than a million cubic metres of rock and soil while 50km of track, new administration, maintenance and employee buildings will also be constructed.

The new 6km long service and maintenance facility is to be built next to the existing yards and will be able to handle 80 coal trains per day instead of 60.

By the end of 2009, the Jilalan yard will have two new bypass rail tracks, two provisioning tracks and maintenance tracks plus provisioning and wagon maintenance facilities.

"The Coordinator-General worked closely with Queensland Rail and Sarina Shire Council on this issue because the financial burdens associated with delays to the start of construction would have been considerable," Bligh says.

"One month's delay to the start of the project could have cost the industry and government hundreds of millions of dollars."

For the first time the Coordinator-General used his power under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act to issue a 'notice to decide' which instructed council to deal with the application within 20 days.

"A 20-business day timeframe for consideration was no different from the Integrated Planning Act, but with an IPA assessment there could have been further extensions," Bligh says.

"We appreciate that one of the last actions of the Sarina Shire Council before they become part of the new Mackay Regional Council was to expedite the application.

"This Queensland Rail project is vital to maintain crucial coal exports and a compulsory deadline was the most swift and sensible solution."

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