Queensland Rail, also known as QR, is a railway operator in Queensland, Australia. Owned by the Queensland Government, Queensland Rail operates suburban and long-distance passenger services. It also owns and maintains approximately 8,000 kilometres of track in Queensland.
|Founded||31 July 1865|
Number of employees
|7,312 (June 2012)|
|Parent||Government of Queensland|
The colony of Queensland separated from New South Wales in 1859, and the new government was keen to facilitate development and immigration. Improved transport to the fertile Darling Downs region situated west of Toowoomba was seen as a priority. As adequate river transport was already established between the capital Brisbane and the then separate settlement of Ipswich, the railway commenced from the latter locality and the initial section, built over relatively flat, easy country opened to Bigge's Camp, at the eastern base of the Little Liverpool Range, on 31 July 1865. Called the Main Line, the only significant engineering work on that section was the bridge over the Bremer River to North Ipswich.
Tunneling excavation through the Little Liverpool Range delayed the opening of the next section to Gatton by 10 months, but the line was opened to Toowoomba in 1867, the ascent of the Main Range being the reason for the adoption of narrow gauge.
Built by the Queensland government to the unusual (for the time) gauge of 1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in), the line largely followed the alignment surveyed by a private company, the Moreton Bay Tramway Company, which had proposed to build a 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) horse-drawn tramway but had been unable to raise funds to do so beyond an initial start on earthworks.
The adoption of narrow gauge was controversial at the time, and was largely predicated by the government's desire for the fastest possible construction timeframe at least cost. This resulted in adoption of sharper curves and a lower axle load than was considered possible using standard gauge, and an assessment at the time put the cost of a narrow gauge line from Ipswich to Toowoomba at 25% of the cost of a standard gauge line. In a colony with a non-indigenous population of 30,000 when the decision was made, it is understandable.
Queensland Rail went on to develop an extensive network of railways to facilitate the economic and social development of the state, totaling 10,500 km at its peak in 1932.
Changing transport patterns resulted in the closure of many development branch lines from 1948 onwards, but at the same time the main lines were upgraded to provide contemporary services, and from the 1970s an extensive network of new lines was developed, particularly to service export coal mines.
Commencing in November 1979 the Brisbane suburban network was electrified.
In 1978, discussions were commenced on possible electrification of the Blackwater and Goonyella coal networks. This was due to an expected increase in coal traffic across the networks, ageing diesel-electric locomotive fleet and the increase in diesel fuel costs. By early 1983, a decision had been made to electrify the networks and by early 1984 contracts were already starting to be let for the new locomotives and other works for the project. The decision was made to electrify with the 25 kV AC railway electrification system as used on the Brisbane suburban network. This would allow future connection of the Brisbane network with the coal networks via the North Coast line.
The project was to be carried out in four stages:
Stage 1: Electrification of the main line from Gladstone to Rockhampton, including parts of Rockhampton marshalling yard, then west to Blackwater and the coal mines in the area. This was a total of 720 kilometres (450 mi) of track.
Stage 2: Electrification of the coal lines south of Dalrymple Bay and Hay Point, then west through the Goonyella system, south-west to Blair Athol and south to Gregory – linking the Goonyella system to the Blackwater system. This was a total of 773 kilometres (480 mi) of track.
Stage 3: Electrification of the main western line from Burngrove to Emerald. This would allow electric freight from Rockhampton to Emerald.
Stage 4: Electrification of the line from Newlands coal mine to Collinsville and north-east to Abbott Point. This stage never went ahead. In 1986 it was decided to electrify the North Coast line between Brisbane and Gladstone instead and this became known as Stage 4.
In September 1999 Queensland Rail was rebranded as QR. In March 2002 Queensland Rail purchased Northern Rivers Railroad and rebranded it Interail, fulfilling a long held ambition of to expand beyond its state borders.
In March 2003 Queensland Rail entered the Hunter Valley coal market when Interail commenced a contract from Duralie Colliery to Stratford Mine. Another coal contract was won in late 2003 for the haulage of coal from Newstan Colliery, Fassifern to Vales Point Power Station. In 2004 Interail began running Brisbane to Melbourne and Sydney to Melbourne intermodal services. In June 2005 Queensland Rail acquired the CRT Group.
Privatisation and current era
In June 2009 the Queensland Government announced the privatisation of Queensland Rail's freight business. This resulted in Queensland Rail's freight assets being transferred to QR National (now Aurizon) from 1 July 2010.
In April 2013 the Queensland Parliament passed the Queensland Rail Transit Authority Bill 2013 that restructured Queensland Rail. The explanatory notes published for the Bill outlined that the existing Queensland Rail Limited entity would remain although no longer be a Government Owned Corporation and that entity would become a subsidiary of a new Queensland Rail Transit Authority, in effect creating a Queensland Rail group. Under the revised arrangements Queensland Rail Limited retained assets and liabilities and staff were transferred to the Queensland Rail Transit Authority. As a result of transferring the staff of Queensland Rail Limited to the Queensland Rail Transit Authority the government moved those employees from the federal industrial relations system to the state based industrial relations system, giving the state more control over industrial arrangements.  In November 2013 five labor unions commenced legal proceedings in the High Court of Australia alleging that the Queensland Rail Transit Authority was subject to the federal industrial jurisdiction rather than the state system.  In April 2015 the court ruled the Queensland Rail Transit Authority was subject to the Fair Work Act 2009 and the federal industrial relations jurisdiction.
The Commissioners of the Queensland Railways included:
- 1863–1864: Abram Fitzgibbon
- 1864–1885: Arthur Orpen Herbert
- 1885–1889: Francis Curnow
- 1889–1894: A. Johnston
- 1889–1896: John Mathieson
- 1889–1902: R. J. Gray
- 1902–1911: James Forsyth Thallon
- 1911: T. M. King
- 1911–1918: Charles Barnard Evans
- 1918–1938: J. W. Davidson
Chief Executive Officers
|Lance Hockridge||November 2007 - 30 June 2010|
|Paul Scurrah||01 July 2010 - 02 December 2011||From formation of revised Queensland Rail entity following Public float of QR National. Previously Executive General Manager of QR Passenger subsidiary.|
|Glen Dawe||August 2013 - January 2014|
|Helen Gluer||03 April 2014 - 27 October 2016|
|Nick Easy||March 2017 -|
Queensland Rail, in partnership with TransLink, provides Urban and Interurban rail and bus services throughout South East Queensland. These rail services operate on eleven rail lines including Beenleigh, Caboolture, Cleveland, Doomben, Exhibition, Ferny Grove, Gold Coast, Gympie North, Ipswich-Rosewood, Redcliffe Peninsula, Shorncliffe, and Springfield lines. Queensland Rail provides train services on these lines with its rolling stock of electric multiple units, which includes the Electric Multiple Units (EMU), the Suburban Multiple Units (SMU), the Interurban Multiple Units (IMU) and the InterCity Express (ICE).
Due to low patronage, lines such as the Pinkenba line have been closed and replaced by bus services known as a RailBus. During some times of the day trains on the Nambour line and Doomben line are also replaced by the RailBus.
Queensland Rail operate these long-range passenger rail services:
- Electric Tilt Train: Brisbane to Rockhampton
- Spirit of Queensland Diesel Tilt Train: Brisbane to Cairns
- Spirit of the Outback: Brisbane to Longreach
- The Inlander: Townsville to Mount Isa
- The Westlander: Brisbane to Charleville
Queensland Rail also operate these tourist trains:
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed (km/h)||Built||Number of units||Routes operated||Notes|
|Current City network fleet|
|EMU00||Electric multiple unit||100||1979–1987||87||City network||Planned to be progressively retired alongside the ICE units from 2018.|
|ICE150||Electric multiple unit||120||1988–1989||8||City network (Sunshine Coast line only)||Planned to be progressively retired alongside the EMU units from 2018.|
|SMU200||Electric multiple unit||100||1994–1995||12||City network||Planned (along with the SMU220 units) to replace the EMU units as the trains primarily used on lines throughout the city.|
|IMU100||Electric multiple unit||140||1996–1997||10||City network|
|SMU220||Electric multiple unit||100||1999–2001||30||City network||Planned (along with the SMU200 units) to replace the EMU units as the trains primarily used on lines throughout the city.|
|IMU120||Electric multiple unit||140||2001–2002||4||City network|
|IMU160||Electric multiple unit||130||2004–2011||28||City network|
|SMU260||Electric multiple unit||130||2008–2011||35||City network|
|NGR700||Electric multiple unit||140||2015–2018||75||City network|
|DL class||Diesel locomotive||50||1961||1||DL4 backup for the Gulflander.|
|1720 class||Diesel locomotive||100||1966–1970||15||Kuranda Scenic Railway, Traveltrain services and infrastructure trains.|
|2150 class||Diesel locomotive||100||1966–1970||6||Traveltrain services and infrastructure trains.|
|2400 class||Diesel locomotive||100||1966–1970||5||Traveltrain services and infrastructure trains.|
|2470 class||Diesel locomotive||100||1980–1983||5||Traveltrain services and infrastructure trains.|
|Electric Tilt Train||Tilting electric multiple unit||160||1997||2||North Coast line|
|Diesel Tilt Train||Tilting diesel multiple unit||160||2003, 2014||3||North Coast line|
|Tourist train fleet|
|45 hp rail motor||Railmotor||40||1931||1||Based at Normanton, used for charters.|
|102 hp rail motor||Railmotor||50||1950||1||Gulflander|
|1800 class||Railmotor (trailers)||50||1952–1954||2||Gulflander|
|2000 class||Railmotor||80||1956–1971||3||Savannahlander||Operated by private contractor.|
|A10 class||Steam locomotive||40||1865–1866||1||No. 6 operational, Australia's oldest operational steam locomotive. Usually placed on display at the Workshops Rail Museum when not required for special trains.|
|PB15 class||Steam locomotive||65||1899–1926||1||732 being overhauled.|
|C17 class||Steam locomotive||80||1920–1953||2||974 operational, 1000 being restored to working order.|
|DL class||Diesel locomotive||50||1939||1||On display at the Workshops Rail Museum.|
|AC16 class||Steam locomotive||80||1943||1||221A operational. (USATC S118 Class)|
|DD17 class||Steam locomotive||80||1948–1952||1||1051 restored to working order, currently under heavy overhaul.|
|Beyer-Garratt||Steam locomotive||80||1950–1951||1||1009 stored pending overhaul|
|BB18¼ class||Steam locomotive||80||1950–1958||2||1079 and 1089 operational.|
|1150 class||Diesel locomotive||80||1952||1||1159 stored pending restoration.|
|1400 class||Diesel locomotive||80||1955||1||1407 stored pending restoration.|
|1170 class||Diesel locomotive||80||1956||1||1170 stored pending restoration.|
|1900 class||Railmotor||80||1956||1||1901 operational, also used as a track inspection vehicle.|
|2000 class||Railmotor||80||1956–1971||6||2034, 2036 and 2057 operational, also used as inspection vehicles.
2005, 2024 and 2031 stored.
|1450 class||Diesel locomotive||80||1957||3||1450, 1455 and 1459 stored pending restoration.|
|1250 class||Diesel locomotive||80||1959||1||1262 on display at Workshops Rail Museum.|
|SX carriages||Passenger car||80||1961–1962||7||Formed into one 7-car set.|
|1600 class||Diesel locomotive||80||1962||1||1603 stored pending restoration.|
|1460 class||Diesel locomotive||80||1964||1||1461 stored pending restoration.|
|1270 class||Diesel locomotive||80||1964||2||1270 stored pending restoration, 1281 on display at Workshops Rail Museum.|
|DH class||Diesel locomotive||50||1966||2||DH2 and DH71 stored.|
|1620 class||Diesel locomotive||80||1967||1||1620 operational.|
|Vice-Regal Car||80||1903||1||Car 445 is a special saloon retained for use by the Governor of Queensland and is still considered a working item of rollingstock in the QR fleet, however it is on permanent loan to Workshops Rail Museum.|
Notable incidents involving Queensland Rail include:
- On 15 November 2004 Diesel Tilt Train VCQ5 derailed at Berajondo 419.493km from Roma Street Station due to excessive speed resulting in injuries to over 100 people. See Cairns Tilt Train derailment
- On 31 January 2013 a passenger train failed to stop at Cleveland Station and collided with the station building resulting in major damage to the train and minor injuries to a number of people.
Criticism and controversy
Sunlander 14 and Traveltrain Renewal
In December 2014 the Queensland Audit Office published a report about Queensland Rail's Sunlander 14 project. The Sunlander 14 project had a scope to acquire a total of 25 carriages to replace the Sunlander passenger train with a new Tilt Train, purchase additional luxury cars for the two existing Diesel Tilt Trains operated by Queensland Rail and refurbish their existing carriages.
The project was initially costed at $195 million and allowed for the operation of five services a week. However, costs had risen by 2012, and the Queensland Auditor-General reported that the eventual cost would be from $358 to $404 million, because Queensland Rail had failed to take into account the requirement for upgraded maintenance facilities, as well as en route provisioning. The Auditor-General also believed, due to issues with the business case that Queensland Rail had overestimated how popular the new service would be, and had a mistaken belief that the 'luxury' component of the train would attract more high-paying customers.
In 2013 the project was scaled back, with the train length being reduced to nine cars by removing the luxury sleepers and restaurant cars. That resulted in a revised project cost of $204 million. The Auditor-General's report in particular highlighted that due to the fixed-price construction contract the cost per train car increased and that opportunities were missed to pursue broader long distance train fleet renewal.
Redcliffe Peninsula railway line and subsequent driver shortages
On 4 October 2016 Queensland Rail opened the Redcliffe Peninsula railway line and implemented a revised timetable that resulted in a 9% increase in services across the network. Shortly after, on 26 October a substantial failure of the rail network occurred. The failure resulted in the cancellation of 167 services, or 12% of the scheduled services for the day without notice due to a lack of available traincrew to operate the services.
Following the service interruptions the head of the train service delivery unit was stood down and an interim timetable implemented that reversed the increase in services and demand for traincrew. Several weeks after the service interruptions Queensland Rail CEO Helen Gluer announced her resignation from the company, along with chairman Michael Klug. It was announced on 27 October 2016, that the Director-General of the Department of Transport and Main Roads, Neil Scales, would replace Helen Gluer and that an inquiry known as the Queensland Rail Train Crewing Practices Investigation would be led by Phillip Strachan into the events.
On 25 December 2016 another substantial service cancellation event occurred due to a lack of available traincrew to operate the services. On that day 261 services, or 36% of scheduled services did not operate. The underlying reason for the cancellations was a lack of available drivers to operate services. Queensland Rail's Chief Operating Officer resigned several days later.
The inquiry into Queensland Rail's train crewing conducted by Phillip Strachan was completed in February 2017. The report made a number of findings and provided 36 recommendations that the Queensland Government accepted. The findings included that Queensland Rail had experienced a 9% increase in demand for traincrew due to the revised timetable while also experiencing a 7% decrease in traincrew productivity as a result of revised industrial arrangements, had intentionally operated for a number of years with an under-supply of traincrew and utilised the shortfall to provide paid overtime opportunities, had reduced traincrew intake during 2014-5 in the lead-up to the opening of the new line, had restrictions on external recruitment and had a longer driver training period than like organisations. The report also highlighted unclear governance arrangements and a short term focus within the operations section that relied on intuition rather than accurate forecasting and a reluctance to share bad news as contributing factors. The recommendations from the report centered around demand management, supply management, people and process management and governance arrangements.
Following the completion of the Strachan inquiry Philip Strachan was appointed as Chair of the Queensland Rail Board replacing Acting Chair Nicole Hollows, who had been appointed following the resignation Michael Klug. A Citytrain Response Unit was established within the Department of Transport and Main Roads to oversee the implementation of the recommendations from the Strachan inquiry. The Citytrain Response Unit subsequently commissioned a whole of business review into the organisation that was conducted by Deutsche Bahn and delivered in July 2017 and published reports tracking the progress of the implementation of the recommendations. Executive bonus payments were also suspended for 2017.
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