Rail policy under attack from union
MACARTHUR Coal's proposed Monto mine and economic development in the North Burnett is being strangled by a ridiculous Queensland Rail policy, says the main railworkers' union.
QR's national freight arm wants six months' notice before it will run a train along the Biggenden-Monto-Taragoola branch line.
A spokesperson for the Transport Minister said there was no plan to close the line.
A spokesman for Queensland Rail said the six months' notice was needed to bring the line up to safe operating standards.
“We undertake appropriate maintenance on the line although there are no train services. Maintenance would increase if trains operated on the line,” he said.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union branch organiser Shayne Kummerfeld who attend a public meeting to discuss the future of the Biggenden-Monto-Taragoola rail line last Thursday said there was anger at QR's attitude to regional development.
“Local businesses want to use the infrastructure but QR's national freight arm wants six months' notice before it will schedule any train movements.
“That requirement demonstrates QR is not interested in serving regional communities by rail and wants to close down branch lines in favour of road transport,” Mr Kummerfeld said.
He said this attitude had also hampered possible development of the coal mine near Monto, which would bring much needed jobs and economic activity to the area.
He said Macarthur Coal had invested $5 million into upgrading infrastructure for its Monto lease, and was currently examining development of the mine.
“However, Macarthur Coal needs a reliable rail service to get its coal to Gladstone and export markets. QR needs to provide adequate rail infrastructure so mining and agriculture can continue to grow in this region.”
He said Monto Minerals had also been forced to use road transport to get its product to market, creating safety and noise issues.
“Former transport minister John McKell had given the local council an assurance the line would stay open but now the Bligh Government seems to be dodging its responsibilty to maintain regional services.”
Concerned rail workers will rally against the privatisation of QR with other community members at Monto's Shire Hall at 7pm on Tuesday.
QR needs to provide adequate rail infrastructure so mining and agriculture can continue to grow in this region