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DOUBLE stacking of containers may soon be permitted on the Mount Isa-Townsville rail line to bolster freight movement between the state's mineral province and North Queensland's largest port.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey told parliament this week that three more projects on the rail line as part of a $50 million investment.
A business case due to be finalised this year will analyse the cost involved and ensure there would be sufficient demand for double stacking.
"[This] announcement is part of the more than half-a-billion dollars already being invested in the north west supply chain over the next five years," Mr Bailey said.
Townsville MP Scott Stewart said the multi-million dollar investment would also see major investment in improving flood resilience on the line and the replacement of ageing rail equipment like sleepers and ballast.
"As part of driving better flood resilience, Queensland Rail will start geotechnical and survey work this month, to pave the way for the installation of new bridges and the replacement of culverts with spans and new piers," Mr Stewart said.
"Those works will significantly increase capacity on waterway openings and provide protection to embankments to better withstand flood events."
Mr Bailey visited Mount Isa earlier this month to announce $6 million in works already underway to bolster flood resilience between Cloncurry and Hughenden.
He also said $20 million of the state government's $80 million, four-year plan to encourage freight operators to use the rail line had been accessed.
Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby welcomed the investment announcement which underpins the importance ensuring the supply chain remains competitive.
"Townsville Port is Australia's largest exporter of zinc, copper, lead and fertiliser, with significant growth opportunities from the North West Minerals Province, one of the world's richest mineral-producing regions," Ms Crosby said.
"These investments into the Mount Isa to Townsville rail line, such as enabling double stacking of containers on rail, will offer customers greater flexibility in transporting freight to the port, improving efficiency and helping drive down supply chain costs."
Queensland Rail CEO Nick Easy said the latest investments were further proof of the organisation's commitment to the Mount Isa line.
"The Mount Isa line is a critical connector for communities in north west Queensland and one of the state's key freight paths, and Queensland Rail is committed to ensuring it meets the needs of communities and freight operators," Mr Easy said.
"These investments will help existing mining operators export their resources and encourage new investment in the state's north west.
"Queensland Rail prides itself as a major employer in the region, directly supporting more than 80 jobs on the Mount Isa line and the local communities in which they are based."
Burdekin MP and LNP Natural Resources and Mines spokesman Dale Last welcomed the announcement, which he said had been a long time coming.
"It's good to see the Palaszczuk government finally taking north west Queensland seriously because that is an area that offers huge potential for new projects in resources and other industries," Mr Last said.
"Given that the demand for this work has existed for many years, it's either a case of the Queensland government being pushed to take action by the federal government's announcement this week, or it's Labor finally taking action in the lead up to the state election."
This article first appeared on www.northqueenslandregister.com.au
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