A collapsed rail bridge in western Queensland will not be fixed until July, leaving local cattle farmers hamstrung, according to a report on Australian Associated Press (AAP).
The report says Queensland Rail (QR) will begin repairing the Darr River rail bridge between Winton and Longreach next month. The bridge collapsed in February while workers were trying to repair storm damage.
The report says the cattle industry in western Queensland was expecting to move 80,000-90,000 head of cattle out of Winton by rail this season. Closure of the bridge, however, has meant they have had to be transported by trucks, which is more costly and time-consuming.
Queensland Rail has been heavily criticised over its handling of the situation.
“I don’t believe it is good enough or acceptable that it is taking so long to fix,” says Winton Mayor Ed Warren, who believes QR could get the bridge repaired faster if it really tried. “The cattlemen are annoyed.”
Liberal National Party (LNP) MP Vaughan Johnson, who has questioned QR’s professionalism, says the delay in fixing the bridge is unacceptable. Vaughan suggests that QR has given maintenance of its coal lines precedence over agriculture links.
“They are more interested in their coal and mineral lines than they are in these arterial lines that carry the everyday goods of the agriculture industry, and I’m over it,” he is quoted as saying on NineMSN.
According to the AAP report, a QR spokesperson has defended the time taken for repair work to start, saying the company has spent the past three months gathering geotechnical data, launching a tender process and purchasing materials.
The spokesperson said QR would award a contract for the job next week, with construction work set to begin next month.
“Given the nature of the damage, extensive work has to be carried out,” the AAP report quotes her as saying.