Major rail projects worth almost $305 million are driving a regional rail jobs boom across Queensland.
The largest investment – the $100 million North Coast line upgrade between Townsville and Rockhampton – started construction in July and will support more than 300 construction jobs.
Work is also underway to replace 20 timber bridges between Gympie and Cairns, an $86 million project that will support a further 280 jobs.
Later this month, work wraps up on a $21 million project to modernise Bundaberg’s rail signalling system and upgrade seven level crossings.
A $28 million project to replace 18 ageing timber rail bridges between Rosewood and Chinchilla will have supported 200 jobs once that project ends in October.
A $77 million project to lower 11 historic rail tunnels on the Toowoomba Range to allow for larger container trains is expected to finish in early 2020, having supported 130 local construction jobs.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the projects would support more than 1150 regional jobs, demonstrating the economic importance of Queensland Rail’s upgrade program.
“Our rail network is an essential part of the freight supply chain, supporting regional growth and trade through our ports, which in turn means jobs,” Mr Bailey said.
“We need to keep investing in our rail network so it’s safe and efficient for freight and passengers.
“Queensland is a big state and rail has been part of our history for more than 150 years, so there is a massive opportunity in terms of the jobs needed to keep upgrading and maintaining that large network.
“The February floods in North Queensland that washed out hundreds of sections of the Mount Isa Line showed how much our economy – particularly the North West Minerals Province up there – relies on rail.
“Thanks to their skill and hard work, Queensland Rail’s emergency repair team got the line open again in 12 weeks.
“More than $50 million was invested in restoration works, with more than $30 million going back into regional economies through employment of contractors and purchase of materials.”
Mr Bailey said rail projects across the state were an important feature of the Palaszczuk Government’s $23 billion roads and transport infrastructure investment over the next four years.
“That investment will create 23,500 jobs, of which more that 13,500 will be done by people in regional Queensland,” Mr Bailey said.
“We’ve created a pipeline of projects that will support Queensland construction and other related jobs well into the next decade.
“This state was built on the back of our roads and rail lines and we’ll continue to invest in them to support our growing population and the communities that rely on them.”
About the projects:
North Coast line upgrades (580 jobs)
$100 million – expansion of eight train passing loops between Townsville and Rockhampton, enabling freight trains to increase in size by about 45 per cent – from 650 metres to 950 metres. (300 jobs)
$46 million – 16 new rail bridges between Townsville and Cairns. (150 jobs)
$40 million – four rail bridges to be replaced between Gympie and Gladstone. (130 jobs)
The passing loops will come online over the next two years alongside the new bridges.
West Moreton bridge upgrades (200 jobs)
$28 million, two-year project to replace 18 ageing timber rail bridges between Rosewood and Chinchilla. Due for completion in October 2019.
Toowoomba Range rail tunnels and slope stabilisation works (230 jobs)
$77 million – for 11 heritage rail tunnels to be lowered, allowing larger shipping containers to be transported from the region to the Port of Brisbane by train for the very first time. Due for completion in early 2020 (100 jobs).
$37 million – slope stabilisation project will improve drainage and stability along the line, with upgrades to culverts and embankments near Spring Bluff. Due for completion in late 2020. (130 jobs).
Bundaberg rail re-signalling project (150 jobs)
$21.8 million – replaces Bundaberg’s rail signalling system with a more modern and reliable system, as well as upgrades to seven level crossings at Hanbury Street, Perry Street, Maynard Road, Thabeban Road, Walker Street, Bourbong Street and Verdant Siding Road. Due for completion in late September 2019.