Four months after rail freight company Watco East West was announced as the new operator of Queensland's central west cattle rail service, the state government has selected the company to operate cattle rail services on the north west line from 2022, following a competitive procurement process.
Watco East West first began operating cattle trains on the south west line between Morven and south east Queensland in 2020.
Transport 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," 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."
Watco East West director Chris Hood said the contract would bring exciting new opportunities to the north west region, with local recruitment underway.
"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."
Services in the north west will ramp up in 2022 as cattle herds rebuild.
The Palaszczuk government supports the delivery of cattle rail services through transport service contracts, managed by the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
Rail services transport herds of cattle from regional hubs across the state to processing facilities on Queensland's eastern coast.
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