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The East End Branch and Fisherman’s Landing Branch were constructed to transport limestone from the Cement Australia East End quarry near Mt Larcom to its Fisherman’s Landing processing plant and port facility about twenty kilometers north of Gladstone. A slurry pipeline was used for transporting the raw material but an expansion of operations at the mine and a limited supply of water made the rail transport of the product a better option.
The East End line was subject to some opposition in the early stages of planning due to resident’s concerns about noise from the trains and increased water usage at the mine but after negotiations the mine expansion and the rail line went ahead. Initially Cement Australia wanted to run its own trains on the line but was prevented due to opposition from Q.R and the lack of any development of a third party agreement to allow external operators on what was still a government owned system.
The East End Branch is nearly twelve kilometers long including loading loop and departs the North Coast Line at Aldoga near the 557 km post. Just after cresting the grade it passes under Port Curtis Way as it heads across historic cattle property Mt Larcom Station.
Crossing the Bruce Highway via a preformed concrete bridge it then descends a long grade down to the loading loop. The line is laid to heavy haul standards with heavy rail and cement sleepers and large earthworks to ease grades.
The trains are loaded on a balloon loop that passes under a large storage silo about half way around and it is common for the train to make several trips a day. Click the link below for a Google earth view of the line.
The Fisherman’s Landing Branch departs the NCL behind Mt Miller yard at the 542 km post and trains can access the line from both directions. This is because limestone from Taragoola on the Monto Line also supplies the plant from the south. The branch is just over eight kilometers long and the first few hundred meters of the branch follows the old NCL formation before entering the deep cutting made to keep the grades to a minimum. In 2003 a two and a half kilometer loop was constructed of the branch to serve the new alumina refinery built by Rio Tinto.
Most of the land the line crosses was state owned so there was little opposition to the line and the best route could be selected.
The line crosses Port Curtis Way on a typical preformed cement bridge before dropping down grade where the Rio Tinto Yarwun Alumina Refinery has built an overpass for its conveyor system. The line continues along the edge of tidal flats and into the unloading loop which is concealed in heavy bush land.
Click on the link below to see the Google Earth view of the line and processing plant.
The majority of the plants output is sent via Cement Australia's own ships and a significant portion is sent via rail, most of it to the north of the state.
Although the plant is served by rail the output is trucked to the goods yard at Mt Miller in containers or pumped into flat wagon mounted vessels.
There are two types of trains used to transport raw material to the processing plant both are usually powered by two Clyde GM units. On the odd occasion the train that serves the East End branch may feature a single 4000 class unit.It is the size and number of wagons that distinguish the trains from each other. The East End train is made up of 22 purpose built VLH wagons while the train that serves Taragoola comprises of 30 obsolete coal wagons now wearing the ID code VLO. The locos on the Taragoola train are also limited to 90 ton because of the 15.75 ton axle load permitted on the Graham to Taragoola section of the Monto line. The locos on the train have to placed back to back as the train is loaded in a purpose built 750 meter siding built a few hundred meters north of the original 210 meter siding at Taragoola and are simply run around the train while it is being loaded.
2457 + 2481 stop and wait for the OK to proceed under the flood loader at the East End Mine loop. The drivers assistant had to get off the train to throw the points to allow the train to enter the loop and as he walked back to the locos checked the brakes and the bottom doors for defects. The twenty five wagons will be loaded in about an hour and the train will depart the mine with the points already set for them. Monday 1.54pm 19/07/99
The limestone train is now heading back east on the branch up the steady grade to the Bruce Highway overpass. The train consists of 2458 + 2457 with twenty four loaded wagons. These two locos were a common sight on the line in front of the East End Trains. In recent times the older GM's have been replaced by a single 4000 class loco but recently I have seen the older locos make a comeback.Saturday 18/12/99 11.00am
After waiting on the Up Line at the bottom of the grade in the above photo to be over taken by a short northbound freight headed by 2211 the East End train crossed over to the Down Line and is seen here passing the signal protecting the points for the East End Branch on its way to the mine for another load.
10/18/2006 4:33:40 PM
2458 + 2162 with 22 empty limestone wagons departing the North Coast Line at Aldoga and head for the East End Mine for another load of limestone. The top of Mt Larcom is covered in cloud in the background but on a clear day is a great spot for watching trains if you have the energy to climb to the top.9.35am Monday 26/03/00
The above train on the other side of the overpass on Port Curtis Way as it heads across Mt Larcom Station's land to the mine.
This wagon ID is from one of the thirty wagons that make up the Taragoola train and when not in use the train locos and all are usually stored in Gladstone Yard where this photo was taken. The wagons are loaded to the A class line load limit due to the Monto Line's axle limit of 15.75 ton.
Just up from the previous photo 4010 leads a loaded train towards the level crossing for the gun club, recent bush fires have made a mark in the area. 20/10/2011
2806 and 2494H approach the junction for the Rio Tinto Yarwun alumina refinery with a loaded limestone train. 26/11/19
2186F and 2253 head past the points for the Rio Tinto Alcan refinery loop on its way to Fisherman's Landing. The photo below shows the extent of the earthworks needed to construct the line. This photo was taken near the old formation of the NCL that was replaced by the Mt Miller deviation. 20/09/2006 2:12:44 PM
2195F and 2253 run the empties back to the mine for another load seen passing the five km post on the Fisherman's Landing Branch. 10/16/2006 4:19:01 PM
This article first appeared on trainsofqueensland.blogspot.com
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