The current thinking remains that they will be allocated to Townsville to be close to UGL. Added to that the PH class allocation appears to be in line with PNQ and PN intermodal numbering, whereas all PN Bulk Division locos in Queensland have retained the ex-NSW four digit numbering system. Time will tell, but at the moment the numbering for the PHs does not appear to have been thought through for use in Queensland.At the Heavy Haul Conference at Mackay last August, the PN speaker made a point of indicating that PN had been reorganised eliminating the internal divisions between intermodal and bulk operations. I know that that is what they say at such events, but there have been significant indications that such a change has happened on the standard gauge. For example, intermodal 81 class lacked the large side numbers. Currently 81s with large numbers are appearing on intermodal and steel trains (and on the Ghan). Equally, 82 class are appearing behind NRs on intermodal and steel trains.
If the difference has been eliminated betweem intermodal and bulk, PN could be happy with either classification system. I would be surprised if the PH class, which are significantly more powerful than the 83 class were not used in coal traffic. They could be maintained in Townsville and still operate in Central Queensland. It isn't that far to Abbott Point.
I am disappointed that they didn't get a numerical designation. I thought 89 or 91 were likely, since these are nearly as powerful as a 90 class.