The new $A28 million, 180m-long, 740-tonne, fully automated, track maintenance machine will grind train tracks in regional Queensland.
The US-built and Australian-assembled machine, the largest in the southern hemisphere, will start work on the Goonyella coal network later this month.
QR Services executive general manager Lindsay Cooper said the new machine would cut rail grinding maintenance time by up to 75%, allowing more freight and coal trains to use the network.
“The purchase of this machine shows our confidence in the future of coal and freight hauling in Queensland,” he said.
The machine shaves the top off the train tracks to restore them to their original shape, making the tracks last longer.
Locomotives and wagons running on the tracks use less fuel and have reduced wheel wear, resulting in large cost savings on maintenance and a safer and more economical railway.
The machine has five 1000hp engines delivering a combined 5000hp of power (a family sedan has about 230hp) and 80 x 30hp grind motors providing 2400hp of power to rectify and maintain the rail.
It carries up to 90,000 litres of water for fire suppression and 48,000 litres of diesel to keep the machine running.
Because the machine produces sparks, it contains fire suppression equipment, including three tiered spark containment shields and foam-injected water to pre-wet the track.
Large extraction fans produce 15,000 cubic feet per minute of suction to capture all the waste metal and sparks in large hoppers onboard the machine.
The Loram rail grinding machine will now move to Mackay, where it is expected to be put into operational service from May 18.