Train crash halts Mount Isa-Townsville rail line for second time since July

A section of the Great Northern Railway line, linking the mineral province of North West Queensland to the coast, was closed today after the second train derailment in just over a month.

A freight train was rammed by another on the tracks at Oonoomurra, 130 kilometers east of Mount Isa, at 6:38 a.m.

Three workers involved in the collision left the scene without major injuries.

Mining giant Glencore, which operates Mount Isa Mines in the area, confirmed its zinc products were on board.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services contained a fuel spill and a minor product spill, Queensland Rail said in a statement.

It was the second derailment since July, when the track was closed for about 10 days after an incident near Julia Creek damaged 9 kilometers of track.

Emergency services are at the scene in Oonoomurra near Cloncurry.(Provided)

Forced freight on Flinders Highway

The railway was an important arterial corridor for the export of minerals, refined metals and livestock.

The Inlander passenger train also ran regular services between Mount Isa and Townsville.

With the line closed, mine operators have turned to road trains to transport products via the Flinders Highway.

Treagar MP Robbie Katter expressed concern about an increase in the number of trucks on the infamous stretch of road.

“It’s a huge security concern,” Mr Katter said.

“There will be tons of bulk ore on this road that should be on track.”

He said the Flinders Highway was already notorious for its narrow shoulders and dangerous conditions.

“Now you add more volume in the form of road trains and trucks,” he said.

“It’s a big safety concern for our drivers, our residents and our tourists.”

A map of the Mount Isa - Townsville rail line
The line extends from the North West Minerals Province to the ports on the coast.(Supplied: Infrastructure Australia)

A controversial story

There have been several derailments along the line over the years and major repairs were needed after the 2019 floods.

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Mr Katter said he had lobbied the state government to invest more in maintaining the rail line.

“We won when in 2016 the state government announced a $25 million rail line investment to replace 41 kilometers of steel ties with concrete between Richmond and Julia Creek,” he said. he declares.

The government had also pledged an additional $379 million in capital upgrades and maintenance to be delivered over the next five years.

“There are issues with the integrity of the line,” Mr. Katter said.

He said driver skill was also an issue.

‘There have been a number of new operators over the years and there is a training center for drivers near Cloncurry,’ he said.

“If you have new operators who desperately need drivers, there could be a competency issue.”

Queensland Rail has confirmed it has launched an investigation into the cause of the accident.