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Frustration builds over rail duplication project, govt says necessary work being done first

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RAIL – Back On Track has expressed its concerns about slow development on the network, amid rapid population growth and the Olympic Games in 2032.

The group was particularly dispirited by a lack of progress on the proposed rail duplication from Beerburrum to Beerwah, which is part of the $550m Stage 1 of the Beerburrum to Nambour (B2N) Rail Upgrade.

The state government said necessary works were underway around the train line, ahead of the rail duplication.

The rail upgrade was announced at Woombye in 2018, with work to start in 2020.

Transport Minister Mark Bailey tweeted then that the upgrade would include rail duplication from Beerburrum to Landsborough, four station upgrades, dual platforms, 2000 extra car parks and 18 extra train services.

RAIL – Back on Track Sunshine Coast spokesperson Jeffrey Addison wants to know when the rail duplication, which is now slated for a shortened section from Beerburrum to Beerwah, will actually start.

“Not one sleeper has been laid,” he said.

“When are they going to actually start the rail (duplication) project, when is it likely to be finished and when are we likely to get the trains we were promised?”

The B2N project will include major upgrades along the rail corridor.

A Department of Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said early works for Stage 1 of the B2N Rail Upgrade started in March, including relocation of public utilities and a realignment of Steve Irwin Way “which are necessary to complete, in advance of the rail duplication”.

“Construction of new park ‘n’ ride facilities and a bus interchange is well advanced, and work started in January on the park ‘n’ ride expansion in Nambour,” they said.

That’s an extra 350 car parks “to help reduce congestion on streets surrounding the station”.

The early works were expected to be completed by mid-year, which should pave the way for rail duplication to start then.

When asked by Sunshine Coast News when the rail duplication could get underway, TMR did not provide a more definitive timeframe.

But the project website said Stage 1 was scheduled for completion in 2025, weather and construction conditions permitting.

Works are well underway at Landsborough, including the building of a car park, to accommodate the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade. Picture: TMR

RAIL – Back on Track is an online-based public transport advocacy group, started by Robert Dow, in 2006. There are about 1000 members of the group.

Mr Addison has been the group’s Sunshine Coast spokesperson for a decade.

He said he was concerned about the lack of public transport on the Sunshine Coast, “compared to our growth”.

“It’s very frustrating. We are a car-centric area because of the lack of public transport and poor rail services,” he said.

“We have a single track, which commuter city trains share with long-distance passenger trains and freight trains.”

The Beerburrum to Nambour Steve Irwin Way realignment.

The state government, in partnership with the federal government, is progressing investment planning worth $6m for a proposed passenger rail corridor between Beerwah and Maroochydore, dubbed the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line project.

But it is only in its infancy, with no substantial financial commitment.

“We certainly want to see that occur,” Mr Addison said.

“But the rail duplication is first (priority) because it (the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line) would come off it.”

Mr Addison also said the rail duplication would be particularly beneficial if it went from Beerburrum to Nambour, as initially proposed.

He said the section of track was the “weakest link” in the route from Brisbane to Cairns, with the shortest passing loop in his hometown of Palmwoods (682m).

Stage 1 is jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments on a 70:30 basis.

Sunshine Coast News was waiting for a response from TMR, about why initial plans to duplicate the rail from Beerburrum to Landsborough (20km) were then changed to include Beerburrum to Beerwah (about 13km). But it’s believed to be due to costs.

The TMR spokesperson said future stages of B2N, which could include more park ‘n’ ride expansions, were currently unfunded.

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