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The state government’s “obsession” with “social rail infrastructure” has been slammed as further repairs take place on the Mount Isa to Townsville line.
As the North and North West is inundated with rain, Queensland Rail is making repairs to the track near Charters Towers after a train derailed last week.
Now, Traeger MP Robbie Katter has blasted the government’s lack of investment in rail lines which could help fill seriously depleted state coffers.
He said the state had “unquestionably” spent too much to build the Cross River Rail, which is expected to cost more than $5.4b.
“They are so obsessed with social infrastructure like the Cross River Rail that they neglect the money making infrastructure.”
The state government announced more than half a billion dollars in projects to improve the line and its capacity in 2020.
Traeger MP Robbie Katter is angry at the state government.In August 2020, Road and Transport Minister Mark Bailey unveiled projects to bolster freight movement including double-stacked trains, improving flood resilience and replacing ageing equipment.
It also announced $6m worth of rail line works were started west of Hughenden and an $80m four-year program to encourage use of the rail line.
But Mr Katter said the problem plaguing the corridor was much more than just maintenance issues.
A Queensland Rail supplied photograph from the scene of the derailment of an Aurizon freight train on the washed-out Mount Isa Line between Charters Tower and Townsville. Picture: SuppliedA state government business case into upgrading the rail line found it would not be feasible or economically sound.
Mr Katter said the business model Queensland Rail was operating under made it difficult to justify.
“Duplication isn’t necessary,” he said. “There is a lot more efficiency that could be achieved on that route.”
With the government-mandated tariffs there is no room to budge on per-tonne cost under the current legislation.
A Queensland Rail supplied photograph from the scene of the derailment of an Aurizon freight train on the washed-out Mount Isa Line between Charters Tower and Townsville. Picture: SuppliedThe KAP leader said companies pay by the tonne each time a loaded carriage is taken on the line, but there is no discount for a return trip.
Mr Katter said this was pushing more companies to use road freight instead of rail.
If the rates were negotiable, and matched the market conditions, he said “it wouldn’t be more affordable to cart something on the road”.
This article first appeared on www.townsvillebulletin.com.au
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