Trainees hit the tracks

The latest intake of trainee coal train drivers is ready to start practical training this week as Queensland Rail (QR) continues the $6 billion-plus expansion of its Queensland coal network in response to strong customer demand.

The latest intake of trainee coal train drivers is ready to start practical training this week as Queensland Rail (QR) continues the $6 billion-plus expansion of its Queensland coal network in response to strong customer demand.

The 25 trainees in QR’s coal business, QRNational Coal, will ultimately join the 300 drivers working in the Goonyella coal system.

The trainees were selected as part of a nationwide recruitment process and are part of the final two driver training courses held at QR’s Jilalan Station staff depot in Centrakl Queensland.

Since June they have undergone an intensive 16—week course including technical, mechanical, safety and route information.

Their practical time will involve three months of one-on-one training with a tutor driver.

QR is midway through a $3.75 billion five-year infrastructure investment program to expand the capacity of the central Queensland coal network, which when complete will help lift Goonyella system capacity to 130 million tonnes per annum.

The investment includes a further $2.3 billion of ‘above rail’ projects including 45 state of the art locomotives for the Goonyella system.

The first 20 will enter service by December 2008 with the remaining 25 to be delivered between July 2009 and August 2010.

The new recruits will complement the expansion of the coal fleet, and QRNational Coal North General Manager Warren Phillips said the trainee’s new skills would be put to immediate use.

“These new drivers are an essential part of QRNational Coal’s plans for the future, and together with major infrastructure projects such as the Jilalan Yard Upgrade, the Northern Missing Link project and our multi-million-dollar rollingstock program, they will help to ensure this region remains one of the world’s largest coal exporters,” he said.

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