QR boosts driver numbers and rail investment

Queensland Rail continues multi-billion dollar expansion as it takes on new coal train drivers to meet demand

Queensland Rail is continuing its multi-billion dollar expansion as it takes on new coal train drivers to meet demand in northern Queensland.

It is midway through its $6 billion expansion of its Queensland coal network, which is part of the rail operator’s five-year infrastructure investment program to boost system capacity by 2009.

This includes a $500 million upgrade of the Jilalan Yard near Sarina.

When complete, QR expects the $3.75 billion spent on the network will lift capacity of the Goonyella system from 98 million tonnes to 130 million tonnes by August 2009.

The remaining $2.3 billion is being spent on locomotives and wagons, which incudes 45 new locomotives for the Goonyella system.

QR says the first 20 will begin service in December this year, with the remaining 25 to be delivered between July 2009 and August 2010.

Coupled with the latest round of driver recruitment, QR Coal North General Manager Warren Phillips says the operator is well-placed to deliver a comprehensive service.

"These new drivers are an essential part of QR’s plans for the future," he says.

"Together with major infrastructure projects such as the Jilalan Yard upgrade, the Northern Missing Link project and our multi-million-dollar rolling stock program they will help to ensure this region remains one of the world’s largest coal exporters."

The drivers will begin this week following a 16-week training program incorporating technical, mechanical, safety and route information.

They will complete an additional three months of one-on-one practical training on track with a tutor driver.

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