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It has taken years of lobbying to achieve but a new rail upgrade that will give western Queensland cattle producers direct rail access to the Oakey Beef Exports plant at Oakey is now just months from being a reality.
Work has this week begun on a $2.5 million project to upgrade rail infrastructure throughout western Queensland that will support the multi-million dollar expansion of Oakey Beef Exports.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told State Parliament today the expansion would unlock the potential for $1.3 billion in economic activity around the region and support more than 4,300 jobs.
“Over the coming months Queensland Rail crews will work to upgrade a rail siding at Mitchell and re-open a section of the old Cecil Plains branch line, which has been out of service for more than ten years,” the Premier said.
“The upgrade will allow cattle services to operate from Quilpie, Charleville, Morven, Roma and Mitchell to Oakey, which is critical to allow Oakey Beef Exports to undertake a multi-million dollar plant expansion and double its output.”
“The works to re-open the Cecil Plains branch line will first involve removing the old track and completing earthworks, before crews work to construct 1.3 kilometres of upgraded track, laying more than 1900 sleepers and about 2300 tonnes of ballast.”
“This investment will generate significant economic benefits within Oakey and surrounding areas, delivering a major boost for regional jobs and bolster economic confidence in this region.”
Treasurer Curtis Pitt and Minister for Transport Stirling Hinchliffe said Queensland Rail work had begun this week to upgrade a rail siding and re-open part of a disused branch line that runs adjacent to the Oakey Beef facility, allowing it to reinstate rail freight movements.
“Queensland Rail is also continuing to work with Oakey Beef Exports to look for further opportunities to upgrade rail infrastructure on the Western line, to facilitate further growth for freight in South West Queensland,” Mr Pitt said
Mr Pitt said the project, including the upgrade of the Mitchell siding, is expected to be completed by early November, weather and constructions conditions permitting.
“Queensland Rail prides itself on being a good neighbour in the community and they have assured me all works will be completed during daylight hours only and any expected noise from construction will be communicated in advance to nearby landowners,” he said.
Mr Hinchliffe said this rail infrastructure upgrade project reflected the Queensland Government’s commitment to investing in rail freight to support the agricultural industry and jobs growth for Queensland.
“The Government is also investing $32.4 million for the Toowoomba Range Clearance Upgrade project, which will to help boost regional freight capacity between the Darling Downs and the Port of Brisbane,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“This project involves lowering tunnel floors to allow the clearance of 9’6” high freight shipping containers, which are increasingly used to export goods, across the range.”
Oakey Beef Exports manager Pat Gleeson thanked AgForce’s Bim Struss and Grant Maudsley for their support in helping to drive the project.
The Oakey Beef team recently visited producers in Birdsville to keep them abreast of the project’s progress.
Mr Gleeson hopes to have first livestock trains moving in November.
35 people turned up at the Oakey Beef gathering at Birsdville from across the far west.
“We at Oakey are committed to growing our business through efficiencies such as the rail,” Mr Gleeson said.
This article first appeared on www.beefcentral.com
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