Startling footage has emerged from near the site of the freight train derailment at Nelia showing how quickly the flood waters inundated the Townsville-Mount Isa rail line.
A timelapse video at Corella Creek near Nelia begins on Wednesday, January 30, with the first rain at the site that night.
By January 31 the waters are rising and by Friday, February 1, the water is lapping the railway line.
By Saturday, February 2 the rail line has disappeared under the floodwaters.
By the time the video ends on Tuesday, February 5 the raging waters are lapping the tree line at least a couple of metres above the ground.
The derailed not shown in the timelapse but is very close to the scene at Nelia.
Queensland Rail’s CEO Nick Easy said Thursday, February 7 aerial inspections of flooding impacts to the Mount Isa Line by Queensland Rail identified a stowed freight train at Nelia had been significantly impacted by rising flood waters.
“The train had been stowed at the location since 31 January, as a precaution, due to heavy rainfall on the Mount Isa line,” Mr Easy said.
“The train consists of one locomotive and 80 wagons which were storing a mixture of products including zinc, lead and copper anode.”
Mr Easy said the aerial inspection showed the wagons at varying angles, with some on their side. It is understood that some product has spilled into flood waters.
“Due to flood waters continuing to rise and heavy rainfall, Queensland Rail crews are unable to physically access the site,” he said.
“Upon identifying the impacted train, Queensland Rail immediately reported the issue to emergency services, Department of Environment and Science and the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, and has stood up a local incident coordination team.”
He said QR would work closely with the different agencies to understand impacts and respond to the incident, and will continue to keep the local community updated.
“While Queensland Rail understands all other locomotives are safe and accounted for, further aerial inspections will be undertaken as soon as is safe to do so to confirm this,” he said.
“This is an unprecedented flooding event and Nelia is a high point in the area which has previously provided safe flood-free stowing for trains in flood events.”
QFES Mount Isa Area Director Elliot Dunn said the train was not a threat to the public.
“There are two houses in Nelia and they were evacuated early Thursday due to the rising flood waters,” Mr Dunn said.
“With the amount of water there it could be days and days before anyone gets in to repatriate the site.”