A QUEENSLAND freight line has been upgraded to allow more livestock to be transported by rail.

The Queensland Rail upgrade was completed with a $4.26-million investment from the state government.

Siding extension works at Maxwelton in Central North Queensland mean more cattle can be transported along the Mount Isa line.

The has extended the rail siding from 300 metres to approximately 1.4 kilometres in length, allowing more cattle to be transferred off trucks and onto full-length trains without interrupting the main rail line.

The Queensland government said this has increased capacity of the siding by almost five times its previous level, improving the efficiency of freight services in the region.

Queensland minister for transport and main roads Mark Bailey said the new infrastructure would enable up to two cattle trains a week into the siding.

“It means it’s now much easier for the cattle industry to make the most of our rail network,” he said.

“To support other long-term freight opportunities, the upgraded loop will also enable the temporary storage of rollingstock at Maxwelton if required.

“This news comes off the back of our recent announcement that the nearby town of Julia Creek will also benefit from a $3 million investment upgrade to its cattle rail siding.”

Richmond Shire Council mayor John Wharton said the loading facility would be beneficial to the freight industry as well as the cattle industry.

“With the construction of grain handling facilities at Maxwelton and the expansion of farming in the region, it is very possible that in the very near future, grain could be loaded on a train at Maxwelton for the Townsville port.

“We’re appreciative of the work Queensland Rail has done in the area, we have a good relationship with Queensland Rail, and we’ll continue to work closely together as it’s important for our community.”

Queensland Rail head of regional Scott Cornish said construction crews had done an “outstanding job” to complete a challenging task, working through prolonged wet weather to install new track and signalling infrastructure at Maxwelton.

“In collaboration with Richmond Shire Council, Queensland Rail has helped relocate the cattle loading area approximately 600 metres east of the previous loading area,” he said.

“Our works have laid the groundwork for the establishment of new cattle yards which council will now focus on constructing.

“The full-length siding allows trains to stow and other traffic to pass, increasing the capacity of the rail line while also providing operational flexibility for other services in the area.

“This upgrade is a big win for freight operators and has helped secure the vital longevity of this line.”