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Modern competitive railway


Since the late 1960s practically all construction has been to develop mining, and to rebuild or upgrade the existing network. The spur to Callide Coalfields in 1953 being the first coal specific railway. 

All subsequent mining railways, starting with the Moura Short Line completed in 1968, have been built as government railways but funded by mining companies provided deposits which have been refunded out of rail freights providing agreed tonnages were met.

Construction under this heading included Gladstone to Moura Mine, coal spur lines to Utah Mine (Koorilgah), Laleham, Curragh, Gregory and Gordonstone spurs in the Blackwater area, the Goonyella system from Hay Point to Goonyella, Blair Athol mine and a series of mines ending at Oaky Creek, Collinsville to Newlands with a spur to Abbot Point port, and Rosewood to Ebenezer in southern Queensland, all built for coal. Other mineral lines included Cobarra near Townsville to Greenvale for nickel ore, and Phosphate Hill in the Cloncurry district. The only exception to government construction was the short standard gauge railway built privately by Comalco to haul bauxite to port at Weipa. 

Much major reconstruction of Gladstone-Rockhampton-Blackwater and of the Collinsville branch has been financed by mining companies. No mining company finance was involved in the reconstruction of the Mount Isa Line Collinsville-Mount Isa during the 1960s. 

Some recent lines have been built for other than mining, Fisherman Islands (1980) to provide Brisbane with a new port, Roma Street to South Brisbane (1978) to link the two almost separate suburban systems in Brisbane. Since 1992 QR has invested more than $6 billion throughout its portfolio of businesses. More than $2 billion of this has gone on new and upgraded track alone. The remainder has been invested in advanced new telecommunications systems, new suburban and long distance passenger trains, and additional freight locomotives and wagons. 

Over the next five years QR has planned investment for another $2 billion, with $800 million of this dedicated to track infrastructure. 

Investment in track has the potential to deliver dividends in the form of increased operating speeds, greater axle loads, improved reliability and quicker transit times. For QR the national railway reforms of the past five to eight years, particularly the competition reforms, are the most profound, and likely to be the longest lasting, in rail history. 



Chronology


1967
Oct 18 - Opening spur line Rangal to Kinrola (Utah Blackwater Coal)

1968
First Aluminium (coal) wagons ordered
Mar 8 - Opening of Moura Short Line to Gladstone, first major new railway

1969
Grey adopted instead of red as normal wagon paint colour
First Centralised Traffic Control signalling introduced (Moura Line)
Dec 21 - Official end of steam locomotive era

1970
Sep 21 - Opening of branch Blackwater to Laleham (South Blackwater coal)

1971
Jul - Train Order system of train operation first introduced 
Nov 5 - Opening major coal railway Hay Point (near Mackay) to Goonyella

1972
Schedule IIA penalty freight rates to North & West Qld abolished
Jun 5 - Opening coal railway Coppabella to Peak Downs

1974
Dec 2 - Extension of Peak Downs coal line ot Saraji
Dec 4 - Opening of nickel railway Cobarra (Yabulu, Townsville) to Greenvale

1975
Locotrol doubles coal train size (Goonyella line first)

1976
Apr 12 - Opening of branch from Flynn to Phosphate Hill (south of Cloncurry)
Oct 1 - Metropolitan Transit Authority inaugurated (since abolished)

1978
Nov 18 - Opening of Cross-River Rail Link Roma Street-South Brisbane

1979
Nov 17 - Commissioning of first section of Electrification Darra-Ferny Grove
Dec 7 - Extension of Peak Downs coal railway to Norwich Park

1980
May 8 - Opening of railway from Callemondah to Golding, coal port Gladstone
May 8 - Opening railway from Burngrove near Blackwater to Gregory Mine
Nov 15 - Opening of railway to Fisherman Islands port, Brisbane
Nov 24 - Opening of high-level deviation from Midgee to Gracemere for coal

1982
Mar 1 - Extension of Gregory Mine railway to German Creek coal

1983
Sep 5 - Opening coal spur to Curragh
Nov 22 - Extension of Peak Downs coal railway to German Creek making loop
Dec 5 - Opening of new coal port spur Kaili to Abbot Point near Bowen
Dec 21 - Opening coal railway Watonga to Blair Athol Mine

1984
Jan 23 - Opening of coal railway Collinsville to Newlands
Mar - First use two-man crews in gradual introduction

1986
Jul 1 - Commissioning of computerised RICS rolling stock control system
Sep 6 - First section of Main Line Electrification opened

1988
Feb 6 - Electrification to Eagle Farm completes Brisbane Suburban network
Aug 25 - Eumundi Range deviation North Coast Line commissioned

1989
First stainless-steel wagons delivered first 20 tonne axle load
Jul 3 - Inauguration Spirit of Capricorn completes Main Line Electrification
Oct 23 - First Driver-only train operates, Brisbane to Rockhampton

1990
Feb 1 - Opening coal spur line to Ebenezer near Rosewood

1991
Jul 1 - Transport Infrastructure (Railways) Act replaces Railways Act

1992
Opening coal spur line off Gregory Mine line to Gordonstone

1993
Feb 11 - Last Dirranbandi Mail (passenger train Brisbane-Dirranbandi)
Mar 5 - Last ore train leaves Greenvale
May 27 - Mackay deviation opened
Aug 17 - DD17 1051- Blue Baby re-enters traffic
Nov 19 - Spirit of the Outback enters service 

1994
Moura mine balloon loop commissioned
Fisherman Islands intermodal terminal opens
Upgrading of western line Roma-Muckadilla

1995
Corporatised Queensland Rail replaces Queensland Railways

1996
Beenleigh-Helensvale opened
New Cairns station opened
Tandur deviation commissioned last in Main line upgrade
Commissioning of inner city quadruplication

1997
New Roma Street station opened
Opening to Nerang
Great South Pacific Express begins trial service

1998
Tilt train begins service Brisbane-Rockhampton

1999
Upgrading of Cairns-Kuranda railway completed
Opening of refurbished Toowoomba railway station and refreshment rooms
GSPE launched
Queensland Rail become officially known as QR national expansion

2001
Airtrain service begins

2002
Sale of Freightcorp /NRC QR become sole remaining government rail freight operator in Australia.




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