Transport giant on track to deliver new jobs to Warwick
A TRANSPORTATION giant from Kansas is on track to bring new jobs to the Southern Downs as it takes grain haulage off the road and back to the railway lines.
After months of discussions with Southern Downs Steam Railway, Watco Transportation Services formally committed to establishing a depot in Warwick on Wednesday.
The Kansas-based giant will take over the Queensland grain haulage contract previously held by Aurizon.
"It's going to be exciting, it really is,” SDSR president Peter Gregory said.
The new facility is expected to create around 20 new jobs for diesel fitters and turners as well as locomotive drivers, with business starting in the first quarter of next year.
Watco senior vice-president operations David Rankine said the facility would be used as a maintenance site for locomotives and a crewing depot where drivers sign on and off.
Mr Rankine said he anticipated the company expanding its presence in the east coast of Australia and utilising existing railway infrastructure.
"It's safer than transportation by road and everyone will be glad to see more trucks off the road,” he said.
On Wednesday, the company signed a formal agreement with Southern Downs Steam Railway over the use of the railway precinct in Warwick.
"They approached us to see if it would worry us if they came into our yard,” Mr Gregory said.
Mr Gregory said Watco's operations would not effect the SDSR and it was great to see the railway infrastructure being utilised for grain freight.
"The public is going to be happy, we are going be happy not seeing so many trucks trundling through town,” Mr Gregory said.
Watco executive chairman, Rick Webb said he had received a warm welcome from the council and the community.
"The level of positivity from the Southern Downs Steam Rail Group and Southern Downs Regional Council was great and certainly influenced Watco's decision to establish a new facility in Warwick rather than in another location in Queensland,” Mr Webb said.
Southern Downs deputy mayor Jo McNally said it was great to see the level of investment in the Southern Downs.
"This important project supports the agribusiness sector, transport sector and creates potential for more investment opportunities in our region,” Cr McNally said.