A New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) train.
A New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) train. Contributed

Ghost trains: No clues about 'missing' new trains

QUEENSLAND Rail still can't say when it will provide the nine new daily train services promised to the region in 2016.

The five new northbound and four southbound services were promised to service the Sunshine Coast when the new Redcliffe line opened in late 2016.

Former Independent Speaker and Nicklin MP Peter Wellington said in May, 2015, that the new services would provide nine extra daily services, four from the Coast and five from Brisbane, providing access to and from Brisbane on the hour.

More than two years later the region is still waiting for those additional rail services.

A massive driver shortage hit the southeast in 2016 which resulted in more than 470 fewer services while the State Government has worked to reinforce driver numbers.

 

Former Speaker and Nicklin MP Peter Wellington.
Former Speaker and Nicklin MP Peter Wellington. Mike Knott

Coupled with major problems with the $4.4 billion New Generation Rollingstock including disability access issues, the 'rail fail' has left Queensland Rail CEO Nick Easy unable to say when Coast commuters could expect improved timetables.

"The NGR fleet will gradually commence operating across the southeast Queensland network, including the Sunshine Coast line, as more trains are commissioned and complete routine testing," Mr Easy said.

"Improving our timetable is a key priority for our organisation which is why we're working hard to increase our train crew supply and implement the recommendations of the Strachan Commission of Inquiry.

"We will introduce incremental timetable improvements to our network as soon as we are in a position to sustainably do so."

 

SC RAIL Back on Track spokesman Jeff Addison.
SC RAIL Back on Track spokesman Jeff Addison. John McCutcheon

New stabling facilities have already been built at Woombye and Elimbah to house the new fleet of trains.

The Elimbah facility has been in use since April 2018 and can cater for up to eight trains, while Woombye, which will become "fully operational" as the fleet was delivered, can hold four trains.

The Woombye stabling yard had only been used "periodically" since March 2018, but Mr Easy said stabling activity increased since late September.

Rail Tram and Bus Union state secretary Owen Doogan said he understood the Woombye stabling yard was not at a stage where it could be fully used yet and he didn't expect it to become a "major player" in the southeast network.

Sunshine Coast Rail Back On Track spokesman Jeff Addison said it was "continually disappointing" that they couldn't even get a timeline on when the new train services would begin and the State Government didn't seem to care.



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