Pacific National expands coal rail facilities

Pacific National has invested more than $150 million into the development of new coal train maintenance facilities in Queensland.

It will build four new train maintenance and provisioning facilities at Nebo, Waitara, Dysart and Callemondah.

The rail firm stated that the construction of these facilities will create 322 jobs, with 220 full time jobs during peak construction and an additional 102 ongoing positions, including 65 qualified and apprentice train drivers as well as 37 maintenance staff.

Its provisioning facilities are designed to support its coal haulage operations over the Goonyella, Blackwater and Newlands rail systems.

Pacific National coal director David Irwin stated that “the construction of the new train maintenance and provisioning facilities at Nebo is a significant milestone in our investment in Queensland’s coal haulage market.

“With Queensland coal exports expected to grow strongly, Pacific National is critical for sustainable coal haulage.”

The coal market has been under increasing pressure in Queensland following Cyclone Yasi, which caused extensive damage across the coalfields.

Many mines are still inundated, with Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche stated that up 75% still have water in them.

Coal export levels are also down by a third compared to the previous corresponding periods.

According to Roche, in February 2011, the State exported eight million tonnes of coal compared to 12 million tonnes in February 2010.

“This is only one month’s worth of exports, but the numbers are consistent with company reports and the QRC’s own estimates of a 30 million down turn in coal production,” Roche said.

However, he told the conference that “we think now it will be somewhere between 30 and 53, perhaps around the 40 million mark; that is the equivalent of wiping out all of the economic growth in Queensland for 2009/10.”

However, the increased availability of coal transported over the rail lines will go some way towards diminishing this impact.

Planning for the new train provisioning and maintenance facilities, and the increased levels of coal they will allow to be transported, began in early 2010.

The facilities are designed to interface with fellow coal haulage firm QR National to ensure integration of the new works into existing infrastructure.

Isaac Regional Council mayor Cedric Marshall said that he was “thrilled to officially launch the construction of the Nebo facilities, and welcome the economic stimulus and job growth it will bring to the region.”

Construction of the four provisioning and maintenance facilities at Nebo, Callemondah, Waitara and Dysart will be completed by early 2012.

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