Plans to upgrade Richmond’s rail facility have been finalised, according to local mayor John Wharton.
The $900,000 revamp will result in an upgrade of north west Queensland town’s cattle train loading facilities and the construction of a new intermodal rail freight hub.
Cr Wharton said the project is a collaboration between the Richmond Shire Council, Queensland Rail, and the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
“Funding supplied by Transport and Main Roads enabled a feasibility study to be done, plus construction plans and costings of the new infrastructure project,” Cr Wharton said.
The plan estimates a $300,000 to $400,000 cost for upgrading current livestock rail loading facilities, with the Richmond Shire Council believing it can pay for those project expenses.
“We hope a private investor, with a business interest towards utilising Richmond’s rail freight hub, will provide funding for the new intermodal rail freight loading facility,” Cr Wharton said.
The new plan estimates the construction of a intermodal loading hub to cost $500,000.
“Richmond has been identified as a pre-delivery centre for live export cattle because we are located within a suitable travel time frame to Townsville’s port,” Cr Wharton said.
“It is very logical to do that transport by rail and the cattle trains can work in conjunction with road livestock transport.
“When live exporters are loading a boat with 16,000 to 18,000 head of cattle, then numerous types of livestock transport are required to make it as efficient as possible.”
Cr Wharton added that Townsville’s eastern rail corridor had to be improved.
“It’s an issue because a full freight train can’t get into Townsville’s shipping port and currently needs to be broken down to gain access,” he said.
“The Richmond Shire Council has worked very closely with Queensland Rail to ensure the railway line is running well.”
A Queensland Rail spokesperson said it had invested $41 million maintaining the Mount Isa rail line last financial year, as well as $16 million in direct capital investment.
“In 2016 and 2017, Queensland Rail is expected to spend approximately $43 million on (Mt Isa) line maintenance and $15 million in direct capital investment.
“We are well advanced in our project to replace more than 41 kilometres of steel sleepers on the Mount Isa line with more durable concrete sleepers, enhancing safety and reliability.”