Queensland Labor promises $1bn pipeline of local train manufacturing

The Queensland Labor government has promised that if returned at the upcoming state election it would create a $1 billion rail manufacturing pipeline in Maryborough.

Labor would purchase 20 new trains at a cost of $600 million to be built in Maryborough. This is in addition to the $300m, 10-year pipeline of maintenance work of the existing Queensland Rail fleet and the $85m invested in refurbishing the New Generation Rollingstock to make the trains compliant with the Disability Act.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also announced $1m for a business case for the replacement of regional carriages, which is expected to lead to $150m in works also delivered by Downer.

“This $1 billion train building program heralds a new and ambitious chapter for manufacturing, not just for Maryborough, but for Queensland,” said Palaszczuk.

“This long-term future pipeline of work means there will be rewarding long-term career paths for our young people in trades like boilermaking, fitter machining and as electricians.”

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO Caroline Wilkie said the investment highlighted Australia’s local manufacturing capabilities.

“This commitment would transform the face of Queensland manufacturing and shows once and for all that trains can and should be built here in Australia,” said Wilkie.

“We are pleased this commitment has recognised Australia’s extensive expertise in the field and the need to invest to this scale in the local industry.”

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the tender process would require the trains to be built in Maryborough.

“Train manufacturers will be invited to bid in a procurement process to build the next fleet of passenger trains in Maryborough, with an order for 20 new six-car trains needed to support more frequent services once Cross River Rail opens in 2025,” he said.

“The initial order could be followed with an option to build up to 45 additional six-car trains in Maryborough, to meet future demand on the Citytrain network.”

In addition to trains built in Queensland for the Queensland network, Perth’s B-Series trains were manufactured in Maryborough.

Queensland’s latest train fleet, the New Generation Rollingstock, were manufactured overseas, however whilst compliant with the specification under which they were ordered, had to be retrofitted to meet Australian accessibility requirements

“This investment in rail manufacturing would ensure the trains operating on the state’s newest passenger rail line are absolutely fit for purpose and made for Australian conditions by the people that know them best,” said Wilkie.

Contractor announced for Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3 construction

John Holland has been nominated as the preferred contractor to deliver stage three of the Gold Coast Light Rail.

The $709 million joint local, state, and federally funded project, will extend the light rail line to Burleigh Heads from its current terminus in Broadbeach.

John Holland prevailed as the successful contractor over two competing joint ventures, one of CPB Contractors and Seymour Whyte Constructions and another between Fulton Hogan and UGL.

Stage three is expected to be completed in 2023 and adds eight stations and 6.7km of dual track to the network.

The Gold Coast light rail line has successfully increased public transport usage along the corridor, and was heavily patronised during the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Bailey said extending the line further south would improve on these figures.

“We’ve seen more than 50 million trips taken on light rail since it first opened, which shows just how hungry Gold Coasters and visitors to the city are for better public transport.”

Construction will come at a time when Queensland is looking to get people into job, particularly in areas such as the Gold Coast where tourism-reliant businesses have seen less demand due to COVID-19.

“Because Queenslanders have managed the health response of COVID-19, it means the Palaszczuk Government has been able to get on with the job of creating jobs and continuing the state’s plan for economic recovery,” said Bailey.

“For businesses and people on the Gold Coast that means building that all-important light rail connection between the city’s north and centre towards the south.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project would support more local jobs.

“Light rail on the Gold Coast is already a key local employer, supporting about 800 operational jobs, and the extension to Burleigh is expected to support more than 760 construction jobs.”

Keolis Downer will continue to operate the extended line.

Accessible transport council to guide Queensland projects

The Queensland state government has established a new Accessible Transport Advisory Council to give input on accessibility for transport projects around the state.

The Council would advocate on behalf of those with vision, hearing, physical, or cognitive impairments, as well as older people, parents, and youth justice groups. The Council will directly advise the Minister, the director-general of Transport and Main Roads, and the CEO of Queensland Rail.

Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the Council would assist the government in avoiding accessibility issues, such as the bungled design of the New Generation Rollingstock (NGR), which required the trains to be retrofitted to comply with disability legislation.

“The existing approach to accessibility on road and transport upgrades has been piecemeal, and this new independent body will provide frank and expert advice on how we can make our record $23 billion pipeline of road and transport projects accessible for all Queenslanders,” said Bailey.

“The establishment of the Queensland Accessible Transport Advisory Council (QATAC) will provide disability-sector representatives with an unprecedented opportunity for early and authentic consultation on all major transport projects.

In addition to the Council, the Queensland government is investing $500 million in accessibility upgrades for train stations in the state’s south east.

“As part of Queensland’s economic recovery plan, the Palaszczuk Government is investing an additional $136 million for accessibility upgrades at Bundamba, Burpengary, Banyo and Wooloowin train stations which will include full platform raising, setting a new standard for all future station upgrades to be delivered by Queensland Rail,” said Bailey.

Chairing the Council is former District Court judge Michael Forde, who was a commissioner on the NGR inquiry. An expression of interest process for membership has now begun and will run until mid-November.

“This will be a template for all transport infrastructure, requiring the council be formally consulted before the finalisations of any plans. This will apply to all forms of transport,” said Forde.

Varsity Lakes

New carpark for Varsity Lakes station

The Queensland government has confirmed funding for a new commuter carpark at the Varsity Lakes train station.

The $5.2 million project will construct a 350-space carpark in the northern Gold Coast suburb.

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the carpark was part of a wider shift to public transport in the Gold Coast.

“The way Gold Coasters travelled 10, 20 years ago is totally different to today. We’ve seen that with 50 million trips on light rail and record patronage on public transport before COVID-19 hit,” Bailey said.

“That’s why we’re transforming the city’s transport network. We’re building new park n rides across the coast, including at Varsity Lakes, as well as light rail to Burleigh, three new train stations on the northern Gold Coast and $2.3 billion in M1 upgrades.”

A tender is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

The construction of the new station carpark follows the completion of the Ormeau station where 125 new spaces were created.

“It means diggers, machinery and workers will move from Ormeau straight into the Varsity Lakes upgrade, supporting the economy and easing those parking pressures at Varsity Lakes as people head back onto the train network,” said Bailey.

The carpark formalises temporary carparking near the station that was created to get more people to the Gold Coast via public transport for the Commonwealth Games.

“During the Commonwealth Games temporary car parks were opened at Varsity Lakes station to accommodate travelling visitors and staff, and those parks will now become permanent fixtures together with 185 brand new spaces,” said Bailey.

Loganlea Station

Community feedback sought for Loganlea Station relocation

Commuters in the region of Logan, south east of Brisbane, are being asked to give input on the relocation of Loganlea Station.

The new station will be located closer to health and education precincts while also allowing for capacity increases on the Gold Coast and Beenleigh lines to meet future demand.

The new station will enable better public transport access to Logan Hospital, Loganlea TAFE, and Loganlea State High School. Connections to bus services and active transport links are also part of the upgrade.

The station will be redesigned and carparking at the station is also part of the improvements.

The proposed location of the new station is to the east of Loganlea Road, south of Armstrong Road. This would place the station adjacent to Loganlea State high School and opposite TAFE Loganlea.

Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said the new station is part of wider plans to improve rail connects through South East Queensland.

“The road and rail transport corridor between Brisbane and the Gold Coast is one of Australia’s busiest inter-city commuter corridors,” he said.

“This project will lead to longer-term planning improvements on the Gold Coast and Beenleigh rail lines and it’s so important we get feedback from local people so we can deliver them the best result.”

Queensland Minister for Transport Mark Bailey said the success of the project depended on community input.

“Relocating the station east will improve that all-important access to the hospital, TAFE and high school, and in the long term set up future upgrades on the Gold Coast and Beenleigh rail lines,” he said.

“But it’s vital we work with the families and workers who use it every day to get it right.”

While face-to-face consultations are not being held, feedback is being sought through phone calls and online surveys.

Demolition makes way for Gold Coast light rail

The demolition of a service station in Burleigh Heads has been completed, allowing construction to commence on the new Burleigh Heads station for the extension of Gold Coast Light Rail.

Stage three of the project will lengthen the line to terminate at Burleigh Heads and the project is getting closer to awarding the tender for major construction of the line.

Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey said that to assist businesses along the line a targeted program will manage the impacts of construction.

“There will be plenty of construction happening, which is why we want get in now before they start laying down the tracks to engage meaningfully with businesses to see how we can support as the next stage of light rail is built,” said Bailey.

Chairman of operator GoldlinQ John Witheriff said that the project was close to awarding the tender for the main construction works on the $709 million stage three.

“The review panel is now undertaking an extensive in-depth process to ensure value for money and the best engineering and construction solutions are delivered.”

Once complete, the extended light rail line will enable further transport improvements along the north-south spine of the Gold Coast.

“The Gold Coast has benefitted tremendously from light rail, with more than 50 million trips already taken, cutting traffic on Scarborough Street at Southport by 47 per cent and increasing pedestrian movement to Pacific Fair Shopping Centre by 180 per cent,” said Bailey.

“Once complete, we’ll see trams travel all the way from Helensvale to the sands of Burleigh beach for commuters, families and tourists, providing a long-term benefit for the city’s businesses, hotel and tourism operators, and of course the hundreds of ongoing light rail jobs.”

The demolition is part of preparatory works that are progressing as the state and local governments look to finalise details of stage four, which would connect the line to the Gold Coast Airport.

Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast Council pushing for mass transit solution

The Sunshine Coast Council has called on the Queensland state government to back its vision for a public transport system.

The council is currently in the process of evaluating options for a mass transit corridor that would form the spine of the region’s public transport network.

One option under consideration is the construction of a light rail line from Maroochydore to Caloundra, with stage one connecting Maroochydore to the Sunshine Coast University hospital.

Sunshine Coast Council mayor Mark Jamieson said that the rapidly growing region needed to shift from a transport system focused on private vehicles.

“All that this will do is increase congestion and pollution, create bitumen eye-sores on our landscape and inhibit our current and future residents in being able to reach the places they need to get to or love to visit, like the beach, shopping centres, health facilities or where they work,” he said.

“Is this really the future that our residents want to see on our Sunshine Coast? I don’t think so.”

Planning for a mass transit system has been underway since 2012, with consultants preparing a preliminary business case. A final business case is expected to be completed by 2021 jointly funded with the Queensland state government.

In an interim report, the option for a light rail network was ranked highest, above improvements to the bus network or the creation of a bus rapid transit corridor.

The report found that “only the LRT option [is] considered to have significant benefits”. Buses were not found to be able to achieve the urban renewal benefits that the project sought.

The population of the Sunshine Coast is expected to rise to over half a million by 2041. The Queensland government is currently upgrading the heavy rail line from Beerburrum to Nambour and investigations are currently underway for a spur line to Maroochydore.

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said in May 2019 that governments would look to an integrated transport solution.

“Now is the time for us to work together to map out what is needed and when, so that these major infrastructure projects have the best chance possible of securing the funding that will be needed to build them.”

Jamison said that it was essential the community came together to support the mass transit plan.

“Our council needs to keep working on the development of the business case for a mass transit solution – because if we don’t, our Sunshine Coast will get nothing from the other tiers of government and our residents’ lifestyles will be forever compromised.”