The Mount Isa rail line and Flinders Highway between Richmond to Julia Creek remain closed following major flooding that has devastated North West Queensland.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said crews have inspected damage and started repairing key infrastructure as flood waters recede.
“The Mount Isa line is a major freight supply route that supports Queensland’s agricultural and mining industries so reconnecting it is an absolute priority,” Mr Bailey said.
“At this stage, Queensland Rail believes the line can be fixed earlier than the 6-12 months that has been suggested and reported this week.
“The repairs have started, with crews clearing debris around the line and thousands of sleepers are en route for track repairs to start as soon as possible.
“Although flood waters have started to recede, access remains restricted around sections of the line between Cloncurry and Hughenden, as well as many surrounding communities and roads, so it’s too early for authorities to provide more definitive timeframes.
“Queensland Rail is also working closely with Pacific National on their recovery plan for their flood impacted train at Nelia, and this recovery will start as soon as they can access the site.
“Queensland Rail will share its proposed recovery timeframe for the Mount Isa line with communities, stakeholders and freight partners as soon as it is known.”
Mr Bailey said large sections of the Flinders Highway between Richmond to Julia Creek are still inundated and inaccessible.
“A section of the highway between Julia Creek to Nelia was still covered by flood waters over a metre deep on Thursday,” Mr Bailey said.
“The expanse of land that has been covered by water is incredible.
“We expect the most damaged sections of the Flinders Highway to be closed for some time, but unfortunately it’s too early to say for how long.
“Roads and rail lines are re-opening though.
“Following recovery work north of Townsville, the entire length of the North Coast line was back in operation on Thursday.
“We thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we work as quickly as possible to recover from this unprecedented flood event.
“There may still be water over the road, fallen vegetation and debris, potholes and damaged road shoulders, so drivers should take care and remember, if it’s flooded, forget it.”
Mr Bailey said QLDTraffic’s website, app and 13 19 40 number was the best place to get accurate updates on road and traffic conditions.
Recent photos of damage to the Flinders Highway can be downloaded here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/hccq3h5pdhhejgq/AACApaBXcGlVo0rQMiQqQKWba?dl=0
Motorists are reminded to watch out for weak cattle in the road corridor and on the road. These cattle have endured hardship and do not have the energy to move for vehicles.
- Closed between Richmond to Julia Creek:
Detour in place from Mount Isa to Townsville on the Landsborough Highway to Winton, then from Winton north to Hughenden, then through to Townsville
- Townsville through to Hughenden is open
- Hughenden to Richmond is open with caution, drivers are encouraged to drive to conditions
- Julia Creek to Cloncurry is open with caution.
Burke Developmental Road:
- Cloncurry to Burke and Wills junction is open
- Burke and Wills junction to Gregory is open
- Gregory to Burketown is open.
- The North Coast line is open – no closures.
- The Mount Isa line remains closed between Hughenden and Cloncurry.