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Pour cash into rail: AgForce

AGFORCE president Brent Finlay wants the state to pour more cash into its rail lines following the closure of two long-neglected Central Western Queensland lines.

After first closing four rail lines, Transport Minister Scott Emerson announced two would now be reopened.

Up to 5000 head of cattle per week are transported on these lines.

The four were shut down after revelations Queensland Rail maintenance workers had allegedly falsified documents and failed to inspect ageing wooden bridges in rural Queensland.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission now is overseeing an investigation by QR into the bridge maintenance staff.

Lines between Emerald and Longreach, and Longreach and Winton would be opened, but the two remaining closures forced graziers to move their heads of cattle by road.

Although there was not expected to be any effect on the supply of meat to supermarkets, it was a disruption to producers and abattoirs.

Mr Finlay said more than 200,000 head of cattle were moved around Queensland on rail currently.

He wanted that number to hit 500,000 within a decade, but said rail lines were not ready to handle it.

"We need to have these trucks off the road; it's a safety issue," he said.

"When you have a truck accident, you can have animal safety issues surrounding those accidents.

"We need to have them all back on rail.

"We're looking forward to closely working with the government's (Agriculture Minister) John McVeigh and (Transport Minister) Scott Emerson on how we can better utilise the services of rail."

Mr McVeigh agreed describing rail as "a crucial link" for the agricultural industries.

"It is a cost and time-efficient transport method which also takes the traffic and the pressure off regional roads," he said.

"I'm very angry that producers have been left out on a limb because of the previous government's failure to support and maintain infrastructure for two decades."

Mr Finlay said this latest issue would have some effect on producers and abattoirs, but the priority needed to be a focus on rail.

Topics:  agforce rail


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