Aurizon has confirmed that their new cattle wagons have been withdrawn from service after multiple safety issues were identified.
Queensland Country Life contacted Aurizon about issues surrounding the Chinese-made cattle crates after the LNP Member for Gregory, Lachlan Millar, raised concerns that ‘hundreds’ of wagons carrying the new crates were lying idle in Emerald.
“You couldn’t write a bigger stuff-up,” Mr Millar said.
“They need to explain why hundreds of well-made, local-built ‘K’ wagons were replaced with dodgy, Chinese-made crates which would be flat out holding poddy calves, let alone full-weight bullocks.”
Mr Millar said the Chinese crates had apparently been falling apart along the tracks with gates falling off and dangerously swinging open along Brisbane train station commuter platforms.
“The Premier talks about buying local yet her Government blew up to $13 million on these crates that have proved to be poorly-made, lightweight and simply dangerous,” he said.
Mr Millar said with so many reports of gates and doors falling off, bolts missing and pins falling out, the wagons had been under a “safety pause” for months.
“Expect to hear excuses about the older ‘K’ wagons being past their working-life, but that’s rubbish,” he said.
“I’m told all these (Chinese) wagons sitting at Emerald are going to be sent to the Stuart rail yards in Townsville for cleaning before being hauled to Brisbane for repairs, at what cost to taxpayers?
“In the meantime, we need to hear from the Premier and Jackie Trad if any of the ‘K’ wagons have survived and can be brought back into service before the start of next season.”
A spokesperson for Aurizon said the company had substituted road haulage services for its livestock customers through to the end of the current season in November. They declined to clarify how many services were impacted.
“Aurizon will be working with the Department of Transport and Main Roads, the livestock industry and the manufacturer of the containers to rectify the problems and return the containers to service,” the spokesperson said.
Murweh Mayor Annie Liston has been working to get the Morven Rail Hub underway and said she was “absolutely gobsmacked” by the issues surrounding the new wagons.
“It appears limited checks and balances were completed and there was no consultation with real cattleman prior to the contract for the cattle wagons being fulfilled,” she said.
“I know the wagons have been designed with no vision for the cattle, but what it has also done, is to not allow stock checkers at each stop to see in. They are now forced to be unsafe and check from above to see if any cattle are down, as the wagons are fully enclosed.”
Cr Liston said she had also heard of doors opening whilst travelling.
“Oversights like this that have now cost the community, given no cattle trains are able to run until the issue has been sorted,” she said.
Cr Liston said she had already raised her concerns with the Department.
"Red meat supply chains are vital to this area and I will always be making noises to ensure our industries are protected from poor government decisions," she said.
Mr Millar also said the State Government must act quickly to restore services.
“Labor are focused only on South East Queensland’s rail fail but this is an almighty stuff-up,” he said.