The Goonyella to Abbot Point (GAP) Expansion Project is a new rail infrastructure that will support the coal industry and coalfields of Queensland, Australia, especially those located in the Bowen Basin.

The A$1.1bn project was partially opened in December 2011 and will be fully completed by mid-2012. QR National, Australia’s largest rail freight company, is the owner of the project.

The project was given the green light in April 2010 after QR National reached commercial terms with BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Macarthur Coal, Lake Vermont Resources and Qcoal. Construction on the project began in May 2010 and the first loaded coal train on the newly laid line ran on 19 December 2011.

GAP Project details and construction

"The Goonyella to Abbot Point Expansion Project will be completed in 2012."

The GAP Expansion Project, which was instigated to meet the planned coal capacity expansion at Abbot Point to 50mtpa, is the largest rail infrastructure project in the history of QR National. The works forming part of the expansion programme are segmented in three sub-projects including Port of Abbot Point to Bogie River, Bogie River to Newlands Mine, and the Northern Missing Link.

The scope of work on the Abbot Point to Bogie River segment includes construction of a second balloon loop at Abbot Point, a second holding road at Pring, two passing loops, two bridges, duplication of the Kaili to Durroburra line, and upgrading 27km of track.

The Bogie River to Newlands Mine segment covers the construction of a passing loop, Briaba track duplication (14km) and upgrading 17km of track.

The Northern Missing Link is the most important part of the GAP Expansion Project. It is a new 69km heavy haul coal line between North Goonyella and Newlands rail systems. Construction began in May 2010 and the line opened in December 2011. It involved an investment of A$385m.

Apart from the new rail line, the Northern Missing Link comprises three passing loops, 11 rail bridges and two road-over-rail bridges. The two road bridges are built on Suttor Developmental Road and Collinsville-Elphinstone Road.

"The Northern Missing Link involved an investment of A$385m."

Approximately 4,700m3 of concrete and 950t of steel reinforcement was used to build the 11 rail bridges. These bridges are supported by 96 bridge beams installed by carefully selected cranes and landing methods.

Each beam cost A$20,600 to manufacture.

Some additional works on the Briaba section are yet to be completed and the existing track in the Newlands system is to be upgraded. These works will be completed by June 2012, which will mark the end of the GAP Expansion Project.

Line routes

The GAP coal rail corridor is a 250-290km-long rail line that serves coal mines located in Bowen Basin. It starts from the Goonyella Riverside Mine in the Bowen Basin, 30km north of Moranbah, and ends at the Port of Abbot Point near Bowen.

The Northern Missing Link completes the GAP rail corridor. The new line provides a connection between the mines of North Goonyella and Newlands. With the completion of this missing link, coal trains originating in central Queensland can now be directed to the Abbot Point export terminal, near Bowen, for export.

Goonyella project alliance partners

QR National has formed multiple alliances for the delivery of an integrated rail system for the GAP Expansion Project.

"QR National has formed multiple alliances for the delivery of an integrated rail system for the GAP Expansion Project."

QR National has formed multiple alliances for the delivery of an integrated rail system for the GAP Expansion Project. Coal Stream and CoalConnect are the two civil alliances created for project management, engineering and rail construction. QR National has entered into two separate signalling alliances for signalling and telecommunications.

The Coal Stream alliance, which comprises QR National, the Macmahon Holdings/MVM Rail joint venture, Aurecon Hatch and Parsons Brinckerhoff, is undertaking civil works from Abbot Point to Bogie River.

Civil works from Bogie River to North Goonyella (including the Northern Missing Link) are being undertaken by the CoalConnect alliance, which comprises QR National, Leighton Contractors, GHD and KBR.

Signalling and communications

The Aspect3 alliance, comprising QR National and Invensys Rail, will deliver the signalling works from Abbot Point to Bogie River. The Synergy alliance – QR National, ULG Limited and Ansaldo STS – is undertaking the rail signalling component from Bogie River to North Goonyella, including the Northern Missing Link.