BOOST: Premier Annastacia Palasczcuk confirmed 75 NGR trains would be upgraded in the Heritage City to be disability compliant.
BOOST: Premier Annastacia Palasczcuk confirmed 75 NGR trains would be upgraded in the Heritage City to be disability compliant. Contributed

BOOST: Downer secures $336 million contract

THE $335.7 million bill to repair Queensland's 75 New Generation Rollingstock trains will be handed to Maryborough-based Downer EDI.  

Premier Annastacia Palasczcuk yesterday said Cabinet had accepted in full the recommendations of the Forde NGR inquiry, confirming every train would be upgraded in the Heritage City to be disability compliant.  

The project blow-out is more than double what was initially estimated by the government in late 2017, however is expected to support local jobs until the refurbishments are completed in 2024.   

The Government announced in September 2017 that the rectifications would cost $150 million and would involve stripping toilets from 40 NGR trains and adding a second toilet to the remaining 35 trains on long distance routes to the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.  

It also applied for an exemption to disability access legislation at the time.  

The exemption was refused, but the Government made the decision to run the non-compliant trains anyway, citing the need for extra services during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.  

Transport Minister Mark Bailey today announced a new rectification program that would involve putting an extra toilet on each of the 75 NGR trains.  

The change would fix a key flaw in the design, which saw the six-car units built with just one toilet in each train, leaving one of the two carriages with disability seating without a toilet.  

And due to Queensland's narrow gauge railway, the train aisle is too narrow for people in a wheelchair to pass between carriages to reach the toilet.  

The repairs would also increase the size of the toilet modules and add other improvements for commuters with disabilities, but it has significantly blown out the initial cost forecasts.  

Repairs will be carried out at Downer EDIs Maryborough facility under an election commitment by the Palaszczuk Government in 2017.   

Ms Palaszczuk announced the rectification work had been signed off by Cabinet.  

"What happened in past governments is in the past and I'm focused on the future," she said.

The inquiry found the problems were known by project middle managers before the design was adopted with the signing of the contract in 2013, but were "not escalated to senior decision makers during the procurement process."  

"The lack of advice and escalation about compliance issues was a common theme throughout the different phases of the NGR project," it states.  

"Decisions were made to specify design requirements that were non-compliant and there was a general acquiescence to non-compliance," the report continues.  

The report also heavily criticised a decision in 2017 by the Palaszczuk Government to apply for a temporary exemption from the disability access legislation pending the rectifications without "engaging with the disability sector on the rationale for the application."  



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