In a major backward step, Queensland Rail (Q-Rail) will cut livestock freight services to many Queensland farmers, according to a report on Queensland ABC local radio's Country Hour on November 5.
In an email sent to a major customer on November 4, Q-Rail announced they are raising freight handling fees for transporting cattle by 20 percent from Feb 1 2009, and will no longer load livestock at several major Queensland regional centres including Dalby, Hughenden, Charters Towers and Richmond. Q-Rail is a Queensland government-owned corporation.
Until now, rail and road freight have cost farmers a similar amount. This will now change.
This move will see more cattle put into cattle trucks and road trains, seriously adding to traffic congestion. Cattle will also now need to be dipped, increasing toxic chemical use. Animal welfare will be worse, as cattle trains run at night which is much less stressful for the cattle.
The increased charges and service cutbacks for livestock freight continues Q-Rail's shift to prioritise servicing the mining industry.
Currently, only four trains are used to move Queensland's entire grain crop. Q-Rail moved 430,000 cattle by rail last year, and 310,000 by rail the previous year. The increased greenhouse burden involved in now moving livestock by truck instead of rail will be considerable.