Aurizon says it is disappointed by a draft ruling on how much it can earn through allowing access to its rail network in central Queensland.

A Queensland regulator has ruled rail company Aurizon can earn up to $4.02 billion annually from other parties using its rail network, less than the company had requested.

Aurizon on Tuesday said it was disappointed with the draft ruling from the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA), saying it sends a negative signal for future investment in the rail network serving central Queensland’s coal industry.

The company said the ruling could also impact the level of maintenance required to a provide a safe and reliable rail network.

Aurizon had requested maximum revenue of $4.75 billion for access to its central Queensland coal network each year for the next four financial years, but the QCA said that was too high.

The draft ruling is now open to industry consultation, and a final ruling is expected in May 2015.

Aurizon said it disputes some of the QCA’s methodologies and assumptions, and will make a “robust case” for changes.

The company’s shares gained three cents to $4.53.