Watco Cattle

 
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Having obtained 147 older cattle wagons from Queensland Transport, 143 KOJX and 4 KLEX, Watco is currently in the process of returning this sizeable fleet to service in Mackay. Indications at this stage is the fleet will be operating on QR's Western Line, running out of the currently under-construction Morven freight hub.

This hub will allow road to rail transfers for cattle moving down from the Central West and North West to the Oakey and Toowoomba region meatworks, which, due to cattle tick free zones, are off limits to rail deliveries via the coast. In the past cattle that had travelled by rail down the North Coast Line had to be dipped at Helidon, but this practice was discontinued during the 1990s as more cattle were directly delivered by road through the inland tick-free zones. Up to 200,000 cattle per annum are currently moved via the Warrego Highway/Western Line corridors (with most on the Warrego Highway rather than rail). By comparison Aurizon's typical rail task from the North West and Central West to Rockhampton and Brisbane is around 300,000 cattle per annum.

In December the Queensland Country Life reported Watco was in talks Murweh Regional Council to supply rail based logistics for the hub.

https://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/6549313/green-light-for-morven-freight-hub/?fbclid=IwAR2fdPzJ35t96wJSAaB9ikuxvHr7rpfSr4RCH13X1UXSGzKvngwhm_3J_l8

https://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/6679450/work-finally-starts-on-morven-freight-hub/?fbclid=IwAR3_plE4hvyihY8oQHL3Mkn_sQQ4BQW164SYBmu2Qq8ioStybSfrRM1UJO8

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  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Will the cattle need to be dipped once again to use rail?
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
This project is a great example of what can be achieved when you have an operator who is a challenger in a market.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Will the cattle need to be dipped once again to use rail?
"bevans"


No, they won't have to be dipped, they'll travel entirely within the tick-free zone. Only cattle moving out of the coastal tick-infested zone into the tick-free zone have to be dipped.

So, for example, cattle moving by train from Winton are in the tick-free zone until they reach Alpha on the edge of the Great Dividing Range. From Alpha to Brisbane they are in the tick-infested zone, and if they were to move back across the Great Dividing Range to Toowoomba, which is in the tick-free zone like Winton, they would have to be dipped. However, if those cattle travel from Winton to Toowoomba by road, without crossing the Great Divide (via the Warrego Highway), they never leave the tick-free zone.

This has been a problem for rail for a long time, as there are no direct rail connections between the Central West and Toowoomba, but plenty of highways.

Map showing Queensland cattle tick zones...

http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=dc39d0aad4a64c30acc438f8c5dcd4e9&extent=133.3416,-29.6449,161.7303,-10.9572
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Watco's WRA003 and WRA004 southbound through Rockhampton this morning with empty KOJX and KLEX cattle wagons.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Watco's WRA003 and WRA004 were westbound from Brisbane late last night with 42 empty KOJX and two KLEX cattle wagons from Mackay heading to Warwick.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Don't hold me to specific dates, but I believe this would be the first time any sort of cattle wagon working has occurred south of Toowoomba since the Wallangara and Guyra meatworks closed around 1996.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Watco's WRA003 and WRA004 were westbound from Brisbane late last night with 42 empty KOJX and two KLEX cattle wagons from Mackay heading to Warwick.
"Sulla1"


Will this traffic be regular now?
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Wagon transfers to Warwick for maintenace will be a regular aspect of Watco's operations, with nearly 300 wagons in its narrow gauge fleet already.

What happens with the Watco cattle wagons remains speculation. What is publically known is the Murweh Shire Council was negotiating with Watco in December to supply rail based operations to the Morven Freight Hub, and construction of this hub began in March. The hub is designed to allow truck-hauled cattle coming from the Central West and North West to be transferred to rail to potentially supply the Roma Saleyards, and various Toowoomba and Oakey meatworks, and perhaps beyond. Currently around 200,000-head of cattle per annum move via the Warrego Highway between Morven and Toowoomba.

If this is the plan, Watco has enough rollingstock to run daily trains between Morven, Oakey and Toowoomba.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

WRA004 & WRA003 had a quick turnaround in Warwick yesterday, with the pair sighted heading north from Brisbane last night. Presumably returning to Mackay.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Wagon transfers to Warwick for maintenace will be a regular aspect of Watco's operations, with nearly 300 wagons in its narrow gauge fleet already.

What happens with the Watco cattle wagons remains speculation. What is publically known is the Murweh Shire Council was negotiating with Watco in December to supply rail based operations to the Morven Freight Hub, and construction of this hub began in March. The hub is designed to allow truck-hauled cattle coming from the Central West and North West to be transferred to rail to potentially supply the Roma Saleyards, and various Toowoomba and Oakey meatworks, and perhaps beyond. Currently around 200,000-head of cattle per annum move via the Warrego Highway between Morven and Toowoomba.

If this is the plan, Watco has enough rollingstock to run daily trains between Morven, Oakey and Toowoomba.
Sulla1
Roma is too close to Morven to be worth the effort to change. Toowoomba/Oakey would be on the minimal limit.
  Toddy Train Controller

Other than the initial service following the track upgrade, have Aurizon run a cattle service to the abattoir at Oakey?
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
Other than the initial service following the track upgrade, have Aurizon run a cattle service to the abattoir at Oakey?
Toddy
I'm not 100% certain, but I don't think so.
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
various Toowoomba and Oakey meatworks
Sulla1
As far as I know, there are only two meatworks in the area. Nippon Meats at Oakey and JBS Beef City at Purrawunda. In order to service Beef City part of the closed Cecil Plains branch would need to be relaid. There was also a proposal from FK Gardner to construct a meatworks at Wellcamp, adjacent to the airport, don't know what has happened to it. It would be a shame if the Inland Rail didn't pass by the airport precinct.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Other than the initial service following the track upgrade, have Aurizon run a cattle service to the abattoir at Oakey?
"Toddy"


Any reason for the lack of repeat services?
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Other than the initial service following the track upgrade, have Aurizon run a cattle service to the abattoir at Oakey?
"Toddy"


Any reason for the lack of repeat services?
"RTT_Rules"


A combination of drought, Aurizon's existing contract and Oakey sourcing cattle outside of Aurizon's regional loading points - primary reasons why Morven is being built.

Feedlots are a signifcant supplier to these southern meatworks too, with 27% of Queensland's herd grainfed. Many come in the from the Central West and North West for fattening before going to meat processors. Almost all of Queensland's feedlots stretch in a broad arc from the Dalby region south to Goondiwindi in the heart of grain country.
  locojoe67 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Gen X purgatory/urban Joh-land
There was a famous re-opening to a Qld meatworks, but believe there hasn't been a lot of trains to use the facility since it became available to traffic (again).

https://www.railexpress.com.au/first-beef-train-to-oakey-in-two-decades/

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-30/cattle-train-in-23-years-arrives-oakey-livestock-exports/8080240
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
There was a famous re-opening to a Qld meatworks, but believe there hasn't been a lot of trains to use the facility since it became available to traffic (again).

https://www.railexpress.com.au/first-beef-train-to-oakey-in-two-decades/

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-30/cattle-train-in-23-years-arrives-oakey-livestock-exports/8080240
locojoe67
Only one, as mentioned above.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

And confirmation Watco will be operating cattle trains out of Morven, plus other details...

https://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/6731414/refurbished-qld-cattle-trains-ready-for-action/?cs=4698
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
And confirmation Watco will be operating cattle trains out of Morven, plus other details...

https://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/6731414/refurbished-qld-cattle-trains-ready-for-action/?cs=4698
Sulla1
What I don't understand is why they are refurbishing these old cattle wagons. The State Government has provided new wagons for cattle trains. I assume Watco has a contract with the state government to haul cattle trains. so why don't they have access to the new wagons?
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

And confirmation Watco will be operating cattle trains out of Morven, plus other details...

https://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/6731414/refurbished-qld-cattle-trains-ready-for-action/?cs=4698
Sulla1
What I don't understand is why they are refurbishing these old cattle wagons. The State Government has provided new wagons for cattle trains. I assume Watco has a contract with the state government to haul cattle trains. so why don't they have access to the new wagons?
"Graham4405"


The best I can workout is the Watco contract is separate or additional to the existing Aurizon contract - and possibly beyond the purview of the Queensland Government. There are suggestions this is actually Aurizon's Quilpie contract, but I honestly don't see why Watco would have gone to the trouble of gaining access to 147 stored cattle wagons for just that traffic. I suspect (with no hard confirmation) Watco and at least one processor or feedlotter (but probably more) have come to a commercial supply agreement. What is curious about the Country Life story is the mention of Hendon and Dalby - neither have a GrainCorp primary grain loading facility (Hendon doesn't have any grain loading facilities at all) - so I'm wondering if these are feedlot cattle distrubution locations - or are part of some other contract, possibly containers.
  2115A Locomotive Driver

The KOJX are old QLX frames. It possible that the cattle crates could be removed and these wagons then could be used to carry containers. If my memory is correct the QLX had only a gross capacity of about 40 tonnes, which could be a impediment to running a cost efficient business.  

Cotton traffic will be able to go back on rail once the range tunnel floor lowering project is completed and containerised grain products is a growing export market which rail operations could be well suited to take on.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia


Cotton traffic will be able to go back on rail once the range tunnel floor lowering project is completed and containerised grain products is a growing export market which rail operations could be well suited to take on.
2115A

Why was cotton traffic lost to rail in Queensland assuming it was ex;ore traffic?  If it was export traffic to where was it sent and how much traffic was there on rail?
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner



Cotton traffic will be able to go back on rail once the range tunnel floor lowering project is completed and containerised grain products is a growing export market which rail operations could be well suited to take on.
2115A

Why was cotton traffic lost to rail in Queensland assuming it was ex;ore traffic?  If it was export traffic to where was it sent and how much traffic was there on rail?
"bevans"


There were a couple of reasons, however the last cotton traffic ended on rail in 2014 when the southern cotton gins switched from 8ft6 export containers to 9ft6 export containers, preventing the use of rail east of Toowoomba through the tunnels.

At the time of the change in container sizes, QR already had funding for the originally planned tunnel floor lowering project, but work didn't begin until 2018, due to a change of government and the subsequent tinkering with the original plan. Much of this tinkering was eventually abandoned and what was largely the original plan was then implemented after a delay of nearly four years.

Other issues have been low yields over several years in Queensland due to drought - making road transport more attractive for smaller consignments, and the shift for some Queensland cotton exports to Newcastle, these having to go via road across the various inland border crossings.

Queensland usually produces 40% of the Australian cotton crop, but 2019/2020 is expected to only see 86,000-tonnes of cotton lint and 130,000-tonnes of cotton seed. An average year is 215,000-tonnes of cotton lint and 325,000-tonnes of cotton seed - grown mostly in the Emerald, Dalby, St George and Goondiwindi regions.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
That is still quite a lot of cotton and would make a lot of sense surely to have on rail.

Queensland usually produces 40% of the Australian cotton crop, but 2019/2020 is expected to only see 86,000-tonnes of cotton lint and 130,000-tonnes of cotton seed. An average year is 215,000-tonnes of cotton lint and 325,000-tonnes of cotton seed - grown mostly in the Emerald, Dalby, St George and Goondiwindi regions.
Somebody

Interesting the cotton people made the change to larger containers without discussion with QR.  Are the tunnels now completed interms of bigger size and what would now stop cotton coming back onto rail with say Watco working out that way?  Does this go to the Port of Brisbane?

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