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A southern Queensland meat processor says it is on track to make the switch from road to rail freight.
Oakey Beef Exports slaughters about 6,000 head of cattle a week drawn, from across the western parts of Queensland and as far south as South Australia.
The meat processor, owned by a Japan-based company, is working with the Queensland government to upgrade rail sidings to connect the facility with the western line, and expects to have cattle on rail freight by Christmas.
But a more recent announcement by the Coalition that it would upgrade the inland rail route and bore a tunnel through the Toowoomba range, has been welcomed by the abattoir's general manager Pat Gleeson.
Mr Gleeson said the new rail links could take up to 80 per cent of Oakey Beef's freight off the road.
"With the news of the tunnels getting upgraded we've always had a second stage vision of getting containers to port. Well, that has certainly put that up the list of things to do now," he said.
"We've got a target of where we want to be getting through 1,600 plus [head of cattle] per day and the logistics and transport has been a major cost."
Mr Gleeson said it would reduce traffic on the road significantly.
"Currently we're putting 100 containers of beef down the range every week so we can see where we can get a lot of that on rail and take a lot of trucks off the Toowoomba range," he said.
New rail transport option not limited to beefAccording to Mr Gleeson, the expanded rail transport is not limited to the beef processing sector.
"There's also the scope there to open this up to a third party access and you could look at other agricultural commodities too, to further get costs out of it — grains etcetera — direct to port; there's no end to the potential," he said.
Mr Gleeson said he had had interest from other industries and had received "a lot of calls from logistics companies and companies wanting to move agricultural commodities direct to port".
"We're going into a space where we have limited knowledge but we're quickly getting our heads around it and getting the right people around to help us," he said.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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