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A major expansion of a Darling Downs abattoir is now likely to go ahead, with the Queensland Government committing $2.5 million dollars to upgrade rail sidings in south-west Queensland.
The Government will also reopen part of an old branch line to allow direct live cattle deliveries to Oakey Beef Exports, west of Toowoomba.
The company is planning a $60 million expansion that will create 500 new jobs and almost double production to 11,500 head of cattle per week.
Oakey Beef Exports general manager Pat Gleeson has long lobbied the Government to fund the rail improvements, saying it was essential infrastructure needed to secure cattle supply.
"We're in the final stages of design, so I'd say this will give us the green light for sure to get up and running," he said.
"It really sets our business up for the future and it's a win for the producers as well, because we'll be able to access more of those cattle from the west.
"I had to show our investors how we were going to procure more cattle ... that's done and dusted now."
More opportunities for producers and processorsSouth-west Queensland mayors have welcomed the announcement, which has come after a year-long campaign to increase access to rail transport for cattle and freight.
"There are just so many more opportunities for producers and processors to use the line now," Quilpie Shire Mayor Stuart Mackenzie said.
"We'll have a far more efficient and flexible system."
AgForce president Grant Maudsley welcomed what he described as "fantastic" news for graziers in the state's south-west.
"For the rail line to still be in use in southern Queensland is no mean feat," he said.
The upgrades will allow Oakey Beef Exports and other processors to access cattle from a number of points along the line, stretching west to Quilpie.
"Morven will be a pivotal point," Mr Gleeson said.
"It gives us a lot of access to cattle from Longreach, Landsborough area and also from Quilpie, so we see that as a significant part of this project."
Mr Gleeson said he hoped to see the first train from south-west Queensland arrive at the Oakey processing plant by Christmas.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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