Works to restore the Toowoomba Range rail corridor following the 2011 floods have gained national recognition, with the project winning an Australian Engineering Excellence Award at an awards ceremony in Canberra.
One of just five engineering excellence award winners from 42 finalists, the award from Engineers Australia was presented at Parliament House for the Toowoomba Range Railway Flood Recovery Project. Earlier this year, the project won Engineers Australia’s Queensland Division award for Project Infrastructure under $50 million.
Congratulating the project team comprising Queensland Rail, Golder Associates and Thiess, Mr Ian Pedersen, chair of the awards national judging panel, said: “This project quickly reinstated the rail connection to Toowoomba, enabling agricultural, industrial, and mining producers in south-western Queensland (after the area suffered the worst floods in Queensland’s history in January 2011) to re-establish their economic sustainability.
“Innovative engineering and construction methods were applied to recover 262 damaged sites, five of which were critical to redeem railway operations. The project was delivered in two and a half months -three months ahead of schedule – ensuring minimal interruption to Queensland’s economy.”
The January floods forced the closure of the Toowoomba Range railway, which is used by more than 100 trains each week, transporting nearly 200,000 tonnes of freight. The recovery work injected $30 million into the local economy through the use of local suppliers and labour and allowed local businesses to quickly resume operations, returning $15 million a week to the Queensland economy, predominantly through coal exports.
The project team worked as an alliance to recover the five major damaged sites, with the first freight train returning to the track on March 28, 2011. Full recovery works were completed on April 18, three months ahead of schedule.