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QUEENSLAND Rail has firmly rejected suggestions train-track inspection procedures are endangering lives after a freight train derailment on the washed-out Mount Isa Line west of Townsville.
In a statement to the Townsville Bulletin, acting Queensland Rail CEO Kat Stapleton said safety was its “number one priority”.
“We are continuing to explore ways to improve the reliability of the network and are committed to ensuring the safety of all that we do,” the statement read.
The Mount Isa Line is a key arterial link for freight and passenger services, supporting regional businesses and communities.
The Inlander passenger train operates two return services a week; departing Townsville every Wednesday and Saturday and Mount Isa every Thursday and Sunday.
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 on Wednesday morning. Picture: SuppliedFollowing the derailment after heavy rainfall, Queensland Rail was heavily criticised by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union for failing to adequately check the safety of lines following adverse weather events.
Northern District representative Les Moffit said it was the second such incident in a year, both during the wet season.
Ms Stapleton said investigations were continuing into the derailment, “which is believed to be the result of an extreme localised weather event that impacted track infrastructure.”
“Network Control teams were monitoring track and weather conditions prior to the incident through visual inspections and multiple weather monitoring stations, which did not register any extreme weather activity in the area.”
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 on Wednesday morning. Picture: SuppliedShe reiterated that Queensland Rail was committed to ensuring the safety of the Mount Isa line, with stringent safety protocols and maintenance programs in place along the 1032 kilometres of track.
“Queensland Rail continues to invest in improving rail infrastructure along the line with $360 million in capital upgrades and maintenance work planned to be invested over the next five years from 2020-21,” she said.
“This is in addition to the more than $338 million spent in the last five years.”
Ms Stapleton said it was prioritising the safe restoration of services on the line, which was expected to remain closed between Charters Towers and Townsville “until the safe recovery of impacted wagons and their contents can take place.”
She said recovery efforts involving heavy machinery were expected to start today (Friday) and completed by Tuesday, subject to weather conditions.
An Aurizon spokesperson confirmed in a brief statement that “infrastructure owner” Queensland Rail would conduct the investigation of its derailed fertiliser wagons.
QR said some of the soluble phosphorus-based fertiliser on-board had been spilt “with containment measures activated as we plan a safe recovery.”
This article first appeared on www.townsvillebulletin.com.au
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