Last train from the Minerva Mine

 
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

The Minerva Mine has reportedly loaded its last train today, with PN's MF16 leaving this afternoon with four 83 class working in Distributed Power.

Owned by Sojitz Coal Mining Ltd and averaging around 1.5-million tonnes/annum of thermal and metallurgical coal since 2005, Minerva is the only traffic source on the former Springsure Branch south from Emerald. Sojitz was planning to shut the mine in 2024.

It also made up most of the tonnage on the Aurizon-owned section of the Central Line between Nogoa and Burngrove. As a result this will be the first significant part of the Aurizon network where there will be no coal haulage - Aurizon instead providing access to Linfox freights and Watco's cattle and grain services.

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  Expost Chief Commissioner

A bit sad to hear, but unfortunately this was inevitable. The mines life had already been extended by 10 years.

The P trains were nearly always an enjoyable job. A whole shift, around 9 hrs, from Bluff to Bluff. You were generally on your own from Burngrove West. Timber sleepers made for a comfy ride.

But operational restrictions on the Springsure branch screwed the job. It used to be 80kph to Nagoa, then 50kph down to Minerva and back, then 60kph back to Burngrove. But track conditions brought a blanket 25kph restriction on the entire Springsure branch, and a requirement to stop on air, loaded, prior to Sandhurst Ck at Fernlees, then proceed across with zero power or DB on either leads or remotes. These restrictions meant relief was always planned for the job.

In addition, the 106 tonne wagons were never fully utilised.

Great memories of the job. Nearly hitting a helicopter with our train. Blocking 3 road crossings, including the one to the airport for about an hour, with a crook train. Slowing to dodge cattle being driven along the corridor, and waving to the drovers. Getting breath tested by a copper at about 2am, while waiting to relieve a loaded train, near 7km ballast siding, and the copper unable to understand what we were doing there at that time of night, in spite of the company branding on vehicles, uniforms, etc.
  Expost Chief Commissioner

So, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Springsure branch closed completely somewhere between Nagoa and 7km ballast siding, track pulled, and corridor ownership returned to QR.
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
So, it wouldn't surprise me to see the Springsure branch closed completely somewhere between Nagoa and 7km ballast siding, track pulled, and corridor ownership returned to QR.
Expost
I think it's actually QT who own the corridors. QR/Aurizon own the tracks.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Are we saying the mine has closed or the rail haulage has closed?

Is this the mine we are talking about?

  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Yes, that's it on the map.

I've been told the mine has closed,  although Sojitz does not appear to have released a statement regarding this.

It has recently opened the new Meteor Downs  balloon loop and loader on Aurizon's nearby Bauhinia Railway (Rolleston) - the latter can handle fully loaded 106-tonne wagons and doesn't have the speed restrictions the 20-tonne axle load Minerva line has. It is possible Minerva coal is now moving through there, but my information is the mine has closed.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Yes, that's it on the map.

I've been told the mine has closed,  although Sojitz does not appear to have released a statement regarding this.

It has recently opened the new Meteor Downs  balloon loop and loader on Aurizon's nearby Bauhinia Railway (Rolleston) - the latter can handle fully loaded 106-tonne wagons and doesn't have the speed restrictions the 20-tonne axle load Minerva line has. It is possible Minerva coal is now moving through there, but my information is the mine has closed.
Sulla1
Yep, I couldn't find anything about it closing. Maybe down sized?

60km truck to Rolleston line would likely make sense for heavy rail access. Also likely they wouldn't be incuring the full cost of maintaining the Sprinsure Branch to the mine site either.
  Expost Chief Commissioner

That's the balloon loop and loadout in your shot Bevans. The mine itself is further west. Coal is trucked from mine to loadout stockpile.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
That's the balloon loop and loadout in your shot Bevans. The mine itself is further west. Coal is trucked from mine to loadout stockpile.
Expost

Thanks

Looking t google maps streetview I can see the line is still down into Springsure and might I add a large grain receival facility.
  emerald-a Junior Train Controller

The line might  still run to Springsure but  last time i was down that way it had trees growing in the middle of the track and had unrepaired flood damaged sections.

The Grain depot there was a nightmare to load at when operational due to only being able to fit a few (6 or 8 maybe) wagons at a time in the loading road , so you spent half the day shunting the train to get it loaded.

Unless someone opens a coal mine down there and pays for a total track replacement i can't imagine the line will ever reopen to traffic.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The line might  still run to Springsure but  last time i was down that way it had trees growing in the middle of the track and had unrepaired flood damaged sections.

The Grain depot there was a nightmare to load at when operational due to only being able to fit a few (6 or 8 maybe) wagons at a time in the loading road , so you spent half the day shunting the train to get it loaded.

Unless someone opens a coal mine down there and pays for a total track replacement i can't imagine the line will ever reopen to traffic.
emerald-a
I went there many years back, 2003 if I recall. YEs it was still being used by some grain but cleary infrequent and the terminus loading yard was an 19th century disastor arrangement. Looks like what I'd do to try and fix a model train layout on a board. I think trains would need to be loaded in 7 -8 wagons at a time.

Also the grain traffic was required fund the entire branch which headed away from the port and clearly there wasn't enough traffic with a more direct trucking route to Gladstone.

Overall grain traffic from the region is quite low and rarely supports indiviual loading silo's anymore. Unfortunately what should have happened was the Moura grain terminal being converted to a major receiving depo for the whole region, capable of 20+ t axle loads and 1.0 - 1.5 km long grain trains from Springsure, Dawson and Callide valleys beig trucked to their and railed to port on decent size wagons and train lengths. If its good enough for coal its good eough for grain.

Having said that I lived in Gladstone for 12 years until 2010 and barely remember seeing a grain truck in all that time. The guys at the port said all that grain rail infrastructure was a waste of money built during a period of different markets and after a decade of regular rain for the region.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

All grain in this region moving by rail is now loaded at the new GrainCorp Yamala terminal east of Emerald. Watco can cycle a grain set every 24-hours through there. I don't think anyone in the rail-based grain game will be interested in going past Yamala to Springsure.
  Expost Chief Commissioner

Well, Watco, hauling Graincorp wagons, are again unloading at Auckland Point, travelling from inland, presumably either Nagoa or Yamala. The grain storage facilities at Gindie and Fernlees, both on the Springsure line, have not been used by rail for many years, the points having been removed at least 7 years ago, when I was at Bluff.

Unfortunately, the Google Earth imagery for that area is pretty old, 2014, so South Meteor Downs isnt shown. But if you follow the main road south east from Springsure to a place labelled Albinia, you will see the road crossing the Bauhinia (Rolleston) branch, with Rolleston mine just to the south of that crossing. From what I have read, the turnout to South Meteor Downs branches west from along the straight immediately north of the road crossing. The issue here is, the Expedition Range, which lies between Minerva and Rolleston. Its a bit of a bugger, but if there are serious, Im sure a way could be found through, either by truck or train. There were rumours of a branchline heading west from around Starlee when I was out at Bluff. Starlee is about 20km north of Rolleston mine on that branch line.
  AC4000 Train Controller

A bit sad to hear, but unfortunately this was inevitable. The mines life had already been extended by 10 years.

The P trains were nearly always an enjoyable job. A whole shift, around 9 hrs, from Bluff to Bluff. You were generally on your own from Burngrove West. Timber sleepers made for a comfy ride.

But operational restrictions on the Springsure branch screwed the job. It used to be 80kph to Nagoa, then 50kph down to Minerva and back, then 60kph back to Burngrove. But track conditions brought a blanket 25kph restriction on the entire Springsure branch, and a requirement to stop on air, loaded, prior to Sandhurst Ck at Fernlees, then proceed across with zero power or DB on either leads or remotes. These restrictions meant relief was always planned for the job.

In addition, the 106 tonne wagons were never fully utilised.

Great memories of the job. Nearly hitting a helicopter with our train. Blocking 3 road crossings, including the one to the airport for about an hour, with a crook train. Slowing to dodge cattle being driven along the corridor, and waving to the drovers. Getting breath tested by a copper at about 2am, while waiting to relieve a loaded train, near 7km ballast siding, and the copper unable to understand what we were doing there at that time of night, in spite of the company branding on vehicles, uniforms, etc.
Expost
Not many cops have any life experience out side of being a copper.

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