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Rail Transport Contracts and Agreements

The Queensland Government delivers rail services and invests in rail infrastructure through transport service contracts with rail operators. 

These contracts ensure a minimum level and standard of rail service is delivered across Queensland, particularly in regional communities. 

TMR’s rail service contracts, include:

  • Rail Transport Service Contract
  • Savannahlander Transport Service Contract
  • Regional Freight Transport Services Contract
  • Livestock Transport Service Contract
  • XPT Transport Service Contribution Agreement.

In addition to rail service contracts, TMR is a signatory to the Brisbane Airport Rail Link Deed, which facilitated the construction of the Brisbane Airport Rail Link, an 8.5-kilometre, elevated railway between Eagle Junction and Domestic and International Airport stations.

Rail Transport Service Contract

Queensland Rail delivers passenger and rail infrastructure services across the State through the Rail Transport Service Contract. TMR manages this contract with Queensland Rail, on behalf of the State of Queensland.

This contract governs the funding arrangements for South East Queensland and regional long-distance passenger rail services, new rail infrastructure, and maintenance of the existing rail network. 

Each year, more than 51 million passenger trips are taken on Queensland Rail’s network in South East Queensland and more than 305,000 long-distance passenger trips on Queensland Rail’s regional network.


The Savannahlander tourist train service operates in Far North Queensland between Cairns and Forsayth between March and December each year. The service is operated by Cairns Kuranda Steam Partnership.

TMR subsides the Savannahlander tourist train service through the Savannahlander Transport Service Contract. 

Regional freight

TMR subsidises rail and road freight services in regional Queensland through its Regional Freight Transport Services Contract with operator Linfox.

This helps reduce ‘cost of living’ pressures in regional Queensland by providing access to freight at a subsidised rate to meet demand.

In 2020, the Regional Freight Transport Services Contract is expected to support the movement of up to 60,000 pallets via road services and up to 16,000 pallets via rail services (central-west region only).


The Queensland Government offers 325 rail cattle services each year through the Livestock Transport Services Contract with rail operator Aurizon.

These rail services transport large herds of cattle from regional hubs across the State to processing facilities on Queensland’s eastern coast. The contract supports non-commercial livestock services and ensures a minimum standard is offered to the beef industry.

Livestock rail services are subsidised to:

  • actively support Queensland’s beef industry
  • support regional economic development and trade
  • indirectly support employment opportunities in regional communities
  • assist in managing livestock transport demands on the road network.

Livestock rail services operate in:

  • south west region—27 services annually
  • central west region—184 services annually
  • north west region—114 services annually.

The livestock season runs from February to November each year, depending on region.

A procurement process for a future cattle rail contract is now underway.

TMR is now reviewing expressions of interest (EOI) received from rail operators interested in operating cattle rail services in Queensland under a future contract. 

The outcomes of this EOI process will inform the future cattle rail contract and any further procurement process.


The Brisbane Airport Rail Link is an 8.5-kilometre, elevated railway between Eagle Junction and Domestic and International Airport stations.

It was designed and built, and operates under, the Brisbane Airport Rail Link Deed between the Queensland Government and Airtrain Citylink Limited (Airtrain). The rail link opened in May 2001.

Airtrain provides tourists and locals accessible, efficient and economic rail transport to and from the Airport, Brisbane City and Gold Coast within 2 hours.

XPT (Express Passenger Train)

The XPT Transport Services Contribution Agreement is a contact between TMR and New South Wales (NSW) Trains. The XPT service is a daily return service between Brisbane and Sydney, operated by NSW Trains. 

The XPT service connects Sydney and Brisbane to regional NSW towns, including Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Taree, Broadmeadow, and Strathfield. The trip takes approximately 14 hours and offers dining and sleeping options. 

Last updated
17 April 2020