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Cyclone Ita recovery: Queensland rail network under repair after category-four storm

By Sharnie Kim and Isobel Roe, Thursday April 17, 2014 - 11:05 EST

Queensland Rail says there is significant damage in the state's north after Cyclone Ita, with parts of the east coast network likely to stay closed until at least Sunday.

The service between Townsville and Cairns is expected to reopen tomorrow morning, but the track between Mackay and Townsville will remain closed.

North Queensland regional general manager Michael Mitchell says repairs are being completed as quickly as possible.

"With the torrential rain, lots of washouts and scouring across the network, so there's quite a few locations from basically Mackay all the way through to Cairns," he said.

"We've got over 100 people working throughout the region, quite a few machines and a few ballast trains to replace the ballast that's been washed away."

Daintree region open to tourists



Meanwhile, the Douglas Shire says the Daintree region, north of Cairns, is ready for holiday-makers again after a major clean-up.

The Daintree River ferry has reopened to the public, with dredging to continue to clear extra sediment and sand.

The council says the main roads have been cleared of fallen trees and debris, with both lanes of Cape Tribulation Road now safely accessible.

It says most businesses are back to normal.

However, the Bloomfield River through to Wujal Wujal is still closed.

Infrastructure concerns

Queensland Energy Minister Mark McArdle says authorities will soon debrief about Cyclone Ita to investigate how the response could be improved in future.



Yesterday, Mr McArdle visited Cooktown, north of Cairns, where there were concerns the town would run out of water after its treatment plant lost power.

He says Cooktown Mayor Peter Scott has asked for a $1.7 million water tank, as well as facilities to plug in generators at the town's big pubs and clubs straight after a major outage.

Mr McArdle says he will consider the requests.

"I'm quite keen to hear from Peter about that, about details," he said.

"We need to make certain we do the best we can for Cooktown to ensure if it does occur again you are ready to cater for it.

"Peter Scott's informed me he's keen to work with the local team here to understand what did take place.

"Ergon are saying to me they will now review exactly what did happen up here and also take on board lessons from that.

"From my point of view, Ergon have worked very well.

"It has been a good response from all concerned but we'll learn now from what did take place to prepare for the next one that'll certainly arrive at some point in the future."

Ergon Energy says it is still trying to reconnect about 130 customers in the Cooktown and Daintree areas.

Councils praised for cyclone response

Local Government Minister David Crisafulli says the far north's newly de-amalgamated councils should not suffer financially due to the cyclone, with the state and Commonwealth to pick up the repair bill.

"The repair work is fully funded by the state and Federal Government, so while it's an inconvenience for local government, it's not an inconvenience on their bottom line," he said.

"But that doesn't change the fact they still have challenges and that doesn't change the fact that I'm sure they'd rather have staff working on other matters, but that's what local government does.

"It's about serving communities right at the coalface."

Mr Crisafulli says he is pleased with how Douglas and Mareeba shire councils in the state's far north coped.

"They would've liked perhaps a year's clear air as a new council before having to deal with this," he said.

"They didn't get it but they took it in their stride provided the state will work with them rather than against them."


- ABC

© ABC 2014

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