Travel delays feared

REGULAR commuters fear significant travel delays would result from ongoing mechanical problems in one of four Queensland Tilt Trains to service central and northern Queensland.

Queensland Rail (QR) would replace one of its fleet of Tilt Trains with a slower diesel engine while contractors addressed ongoing mechanical difficulties.

The train had not been able to reach speeds it was be capable of because of a malfunctioning auxiliary power converter, but a spokeswoman for QR stressed it had not affected braking capabilities.

It was understood the malfunction had been causing travel delays for at least three weeks.

Passengers on the train service scheduled to leave Roma St, Brisbane at 11am tomorrow and arrive in Rockhampton at 6.25pm faced an extra three hours on their journey because of the slower diesel engine.

QR would not provide a timeframe as to how long repairs to the malfunctioning equipment were expected to take.

A Bundaberg patient support group has expressed concern that ongoing problems would affect those with medical conditions who travelled by rail to attend specialist appointments.

Bundaberg and District Lung Support president Susan Calthorpe said the Tilt Train was the primary mode of transport for many of the organisation's members.

"If it becomes an ongoing problem, it's going to become a real issue for people," she said.

"For example, we don't have a respiratory specialist in this town.

"From experience, the buses usually arrive too late for people to attend their appointments and many are on oxygen, so it's a bit hard to drive when they're hooked up to an oxygen tank."

A spokeswoman for QR said all passengers travelling on the Sunday service had been notified about the delay.

The spokeswoman said QR was working with the manufacturer of the malfunctioning equipment, Hitachi, to rectify the issue as soon as possible.

"Queensland Rail would like to apologise to customers for any inconvenience this has caused," the spokeswoman said.

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