It was pleasing to hear the news about Richmond’s plans to set up a rail intermodal freight facility (see story on page 9).

Last month we heard about massive job losses as Aurizon shuts down much of its operation in the north-west, apparently due to a Glencore contract loss though some, particularly in the union movement, are saying this was always part of Aurizon’s longer term strategy to reduce its footprint in northern Queensland.

At a meeting in Hughenden Richmond Mayor John Wharton was a key speaker urging local bodies to put pressure on the state government to make road and rail freight a level playing field.

These calls have met with a cautious and non-committal response from the Palaszczuk government but it is good to see the Mayor is pushing forward the rail agenda in other ways.

Cr Wharton said the new project was a collaboration between the Richmond Shire Council, Queensland Rail, and the Department of Transport and Main Roads.  

The $900,000 revamp will result in an upgrade of Richmond’s train loading facilities and the construction of a new intermodal rail freight hub.

Over a third of that money will be spend to upgrade the existing livestock rail loading facilities which Richmond Shire Council is prepared to stump up.

But the plan does rely on a private investor to provide funding for the new intermodal rail freight loading facility, expected to cost half a million dollars.

If an astute business does its homework and gets on board the rewards could be great. In 2014 Australia exported 1.3 million live beef cattle, mostly to Indonesia, Vietnam and China, for feeder, slaughter and breeding valued at $1.3 billion.

Darwin is the largest export port but Townsville is the second largest port and shipped 247,047 live head in 2014.

Cr Wharton said Richmond’s location made it a key pre-delivery centre for live export cattle to Townsville’s port. The problem is that Townsville’s eastern rail corridor has poor infrastructure and full freight trains need to be broken down to gain access into Townsville’s shipping port. The Turnbull government made an election promise to upgrade the rail line and must be held to that promise. DB