QR National

QR National has opened the A$1.1bn ($1bn) Northern Missing Link, a new rail line linking central Queensland mines to the Abbot Point terminal near Bowen, north of Mackay in Australia.

The 69-kilometre Goonyella to Abbot Point (GAP) will increase Queensland’s coal export capacity by 50 million tons a year through the Abbot Point port by connecting the Goonyella and Newlands rail systems.

QR National chairman John Prescott said: "We’ve created a capacity increase on the Newlands system of up to 50 million tons a year, as well as provided the platform for potential future expansions of 200 million tons and more."

"The GAP project, in combination with QR National’s other committed expansions, would deliver an extra 70 million tons of rail capacity over the next three years," Prescott said.

"This means QR National’s Central Queensland Coal Network will have the capacity to move more than 300 million tons of coal per annum by 2015." Prescott added.

The rail link will connect the existing mines of North Goonyella and Newlands and allow coal loaded trains from central Queensland to carry it to the port of Abbot Point, near Bowen, for export.

QR National managing director and CEO Lance Hockridge said: "GAP is a genuine transformational project. It will create a step change in Queensland’s coal exports and generate significant stimulus for the economy," Hockridge said.

"The Northern Missing Link had been on Queensland’s infrastructure wish-list for over three decades," Hockridge added.

QR National had worked with alliance partners CoalConnect, Coal Stream, Aspect3 and Synergy to deliver the GAP project on behalf of five foundation customers, QCoal, Rio Tinto Coal, BMA, Middlemount Coal and Lake Vermont Resources.

The project took 20-months to complete, a month ahead of schedule while further work to complete the GAP project will continue through to mid-2012, including completion of additional works on the Briaba section and upgrades to existing track on the Newlands system.

QR National Executive Vice President Network Michael Carter said: "Higher capacity 106-ton wagons can also begin operating on the Newlands System, effectively increasing coal haulage volumes by almost 2,000 tons a train."

Caption: Goonyella to Abbot Point (GAP) will link Queensland mines to the Abbot Point terminal bridging the 69km gap rail link between the Goonyella and Newlands rail systems. Image author: MCAspire.