AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Queensland tilts to speed, passenger luxury and further subsidies

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> Queensland’s new tilt trains will be Australia’s fastest passenger services, with a maximum speed of 160 km/h, more luxury and continued heavy subsidies for travellers. </span> <p>Downer EDI will deliver the new vehicles for the new generation tilt trains&nbsp progressively from April 2013, chief executive Grant Fenn said.</p> <p>Under its $189m contract Downer will supply one new diesel train of two power cars and 12 carriages as well as 10 new carriages for upgrading the existing two diesel tilt trains on the Brisbane-Cairns route.</p> <p>The new trains, built on the Hitachi technology platform, will feature sleeper cars with personal ensuites, first class sitter cars with lay flat seats, a restaurant car, first class and club lounges, and economy sitter cars.</p> <p>&quotThis latest contract win confirms the market’s continuing demand for Downer’s competitive, service-oriented approach and commitment to safety,” Mr Fenn said.</p> <p>The Queensland government said the fast service will reduce the travel time between Brisbane and Cairns from 31 hours to 26 hours when the thrice weekly Sunlander Train is phased out in 2014 after more than 45 years.</p> <p>Premier Anna Bligh said the contract had been awarded to the Maryborough facility, directly supporting 500 jobs, without a competitive tender process because Downer held the intellectual property for tilt trains.</p> <p>She said the investment in new trains was only possible because of asset sales and the creation of a rail company dedicated to passengers.</p> <p>Ms Bligh said the government was not looking to reduce the subsidy on the “very important service” and played down concerns over the costs to taxpayers.</p> <p>“There is no public transport system anywhere in the world that is not subsidised,” she said.</p> <p>She talked up the appeal of the coastal service to tourists and said pensioners would continue to have access to free travel passes on the service, paying only a small booking fee.&nbsp</p> <p>Transport minister Rachel Nolan said 85,000 people used the service last year and the number of seats on the new models would be similar.</p> <p>An economy ticket cost $215 and the average government subsidy was $265 a passenger at present.</p> <p><strong>The other contract</strong></p> <p>Meanwhile, Maryborough’s members of Parliament, state independent Chris Foley and federal shadow minister for transport Warren Truss, welcomed the contract and raised the big question of Downer’s tender to build 200 state passenger trains.&nbsp</p> <p>“For more than a year the workers at Downer EDI have had to live with uncertainty and in fear that the State Labor Government would export their jobs to China as part of its $2bn tender for 200 new trains,” Mr Truss said.<br /> &quotThis announcement provides Downer EDI with some security until 2014, but the $2bn tender is the deal that would seal our region’s economic future.&quot</p> <p>Mr Truss said he hoped the $189 contract would not be a second prize distraction from the $2bn first prize.</p> <p>Mr Foley said the contract was an excellent sign. &quotSurely one could conclude that if the government have enough confidence in EDI Rail to give a $189m contract, then certainly they regard [it] as a very serious player for the bigger contract,&quot he said.</p>