DEDICATED livestock rail company, Watco East West, has been awarded the contract for a third line in Queensland – meaning it will now be operating on all lines from the west to the east.
The company this week won a competitive tender for the north-west line, which runs from Mount Isa to Townsville and was previously held by Aurizon. It now runs the south-west, central-west and north-west lines.
Watco East West is a specialist livestock rail carrier, which has been operating in Western Qld since 2020. It has also announced plans to carry feeder cattle in south-west Qld, adding to its direct-to-works service (see yesterday’s story here).
Director Chris Hood said running all three Western Qld lines was a good strategic move for the company. He said recruitment was underway, with drivers needed for the next two years.
“We’ve identified we will need 10 qualified drivers in 2022, and an additional 12 needed from 2023, in addition to maintenance and support staff,” Mr Hood said.
“New depots and infrastructure to support loading and unloading on the rail corridor are also being investigated, including a loading and spelling facility near Townsville.
“We look forward to working with the beef industry to grow the number of cattle being transported by rail.”
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the contract with Watco East West would support local jobs and employment.
“This contract will employ train drivers, maintenance and operational staff based in local communities in regional Queensland, supporting our COVID-19 economic recovery plan,” Mr Bailey said.
“Cattle rail services will support increased economic and employment opportunities in the North West region.
“As the only state in Australia that operates cattle trains, the Palaszczuk Government continues to play a key role in supporting our agricultural sector and managing freight transport demands.
“The new contract with Watco East West is another way our government is investing in jobs in our regions, while also making our roads safer and less congested.”
Services in the North West will ramp up in 2022 as cattle herds rebuild and in line with Watco local recruitment.