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Behind the scenes of a rail depot on the rise

By Pacific National

In 2012, Pacific National took over the running of the converted petrol station to transport coal from the nearby Bowen Basin. Run on the back of a team of 49, with 15 on staff at any one time, the 24/7 operations of the site are not easy to organise. In spite of this, the unassuming Bowen depot is already getting earmarked as a model of efficiency, teamwork, and safety in the competitive Pacific National business.

Everyday operations

As with all Pacific National sites, each shift starts with a Toolbox talk with supervisors. From there, the Bowen train crew team members head out to one of several mines to load coal into the wagons. More often than not, that crew will head into barracks for eight hours, and another crew coming out of barracks will bring the train back to Bowen to unload at the port of Abbot Point.

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The 6-days on, 3-days off schedule is challenging for some, but the closeness of the team keeps Bowen moving forward. “We wouldn’t have what we have now without our team”, says Safety, Health and Environment Representative and Loco Driver Stephen Styles.


Despite being the “new kids on the block”, as Stephen phrases it, for rail in Bowen, the commitment to safety and teamwork has given the more established sites in the area a run for their money.

“Safety is everyone’s priority, and everyone’s responsibility”, says Sharon Burnett, the Operations Superintendent in Bowen.

With no Lost Time Injuries (LTIs) reported since operations began in 2012, Bowen is a great role model for all Pacific National sites.

But everyday safety and comfort of staff remains a priority as well. The tropical heat of Bowen means that all team members are conscious of heat-related concerns, such as hydration, sun smart awareness, and heat stroke. Team members ensure that they carry plenty of water, apply sun-screen, always wear broad-brimmed hats whilst in the rail corridor, and carry Pacific National supplied Esky’s to store their food in when travelling by car.

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The only way is up

Bowen has already got its eyes on the future, with diversity and training programs already in place, and there is a conscious effort by the Customer team to generate new business.

Not bad for a site that started life as a petrol station.