Outback train service grinds to a halt due to heat

DOORS TO CLOSE: The writing is on the wall for Queensland Rail customers at the Emerald train station this week, however the correct date for closure is January 31.
DOORS TO CLOSE: The writing is on the wall for Queensland Rail customers at the Emerald train station this week, however the correct date for closure is January 31. Sam Woods Emerail

CRIPPLING heat and a buckling track has again forced the suspension of rail services from Rockhampton to Longreach.

The Rockhampton to Emerald line was temporarily opened for Tuesday's Spirit of the Outback passenger service, but will close again due to the extreme temperatures in the region.

"On Thursday, January 17, customers travelling from Longreach will start their journey on a replacement coach service before boarding the Spirit of the Outback service in Rockhampton," a Queensland Rail spokeswoman said.

"Track buckles caused by heat are an issue for rail providers around the world.

"QR has a series of procedures to monitor, detect and rectify any of these issues on our network."

Less clear are the reasons behind the closure of the historic Emerald ticket sales office which will cease operating on January 31.

Queensland Rail customers are directed to instead purchase tickets from a local travel agency, online or by phone.

A Queensland Rail spokesman said the decision was in line with the closure of a number of outlets across the state.

"It's my understanding similar moves are happening in other towns as well," he said.

The Emerald station has been staffed by Aurizon employees (formerly QR National) since July 2010, but a company spokesman said the move to permanently close the office was not their call.

"Aurizon continues to operate from the Emerald rail station for its freight operations," the spokesman said.

"It was not Aurizon's decision to cease ticket selling from the station."

Aurizon employees were not expected to be affected by the closure of the station's sales office.

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