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Work underway for rail duplication but no guarantees down the track

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Transport officials can’t say what the future holds for a section of the North Coast Line, despite telling a community group they must move from their base by the railway tracks.

Works are well underway to duplicate the 13km stretch between Beerburrum and Beerwah, as part of the $550.8m Stage 1 Beerburrum to Nambour (B2N) Rail Upgrade.

But the Department of Transport and Main Roads could not confirm plans for the 28km section from Beerwah to Nambour.

That’s despite informing members of the Nambour Men’s Shed that they must vacate the premises they rent on government-owned land beside the railway.

The group was told they had just over a year to relocate, before they were offered a five-year extension.

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A TMR spokesperson could not say what would happen to the line between Beerwah and Nambour, including whether it could be doubled.

“Future stages of B2N will be confirmed as part of a $6.25 million duplication study currently underway,” they said.

“This study will review the demand on the line between Beerburrum and Nambour (beyond Stage 1), refining the scope of B2N Stage 2.

“This study is intended to be undertaken in parallel with the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line (a proposed coastal rail line from Beerwah to Maroochydore) planning, to ensure that network-wide operations and demand profiles in the Sunshine Coast region are being considered in a staged and logical way.”

The Nambour Men’s Shed is about 20m from the track. Picture: Steele Taylor

A $1.5m Brisbane to Sunshine Coast Rail Study, also funded by state and federal governments, is underway as well. The spokesperson said that study would develop a staged program of rail priorities on the North Coast Line to 2051, which would inform the B2N study.

“Rail is an interconnected system and investments are prioritised and sequenced to achieve the greatest value benefits across the network,” they said.

There are about 20 passenger train services from Nambour to Brisbane and 20 services from Brisbane to Nambour on weekdays, and about half as many on weekends.

The services can accommodate about 9000 seated passengers, in each direction, per day.

There is a travel time of about 1hr 48min from Nambour to Brisbane, but some services take longer to allow trains to pass each other at stations that have two platforms or via loops.

The region is expected to welcome an influx of residents in coming years, placing additional strain on transport infrastructure and services.

About 20 passenger train services leave Nambour each day and about 20 arrive each day. Picture: Steele Taylor

Local public transport advocate Robert Dow from RAIL – Back on Track said more needed to be done.

“The duplication of the line north from Beerburrum is being stopped at Beerwah. Unless it is duplicated through to Landsborough, this will further restrict train paths, not only for the (Translink) inter-urban services, but also long-distance passenger and freight trains,” he said.

“Duplication to extend to Landsborough is essential.”

Mr Dow said significant changes were required to rail services and infrastructure between Beerwah and Nambour.

“The fundamental problem is the poor train service frequency, particularly out of peak,” he said.

“Ninety minutes between services is far too long. It needs have a service to and from Nambour every hour.

“Peak services need improvement in the late peaks as well, with a minimum of 30 minutes between services.

“Improved passing loops are also needed between Beerwah and Nambour.”

The B2N project is expected to include major upgrades along the rail corridor from Beerburrum to Nambour.

The TMR spokesperson said the B2N project would make a significant difference to commuters.

“Once complete, the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade will provide additional track capacity and reliability, creating travel time savings and increased passenger and freight services to the growing Sunshine Coast region,” the spokesperson said.

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

Early works were recently completed.

Expansions to park ‘n’ ride facilities at Landsborough and Nambour were opened for use in August, allowing 350 additional car parks.

The realignment of a section of Steve Irwin Way was also finished to make way for the duplication of the line between Beerburrum to Beerwah.

Design works are underway on the main works that will double the line between Beerburrum to Beerwah, deliver new bridges, address level crossings and increase the capacity of the Beerburrum park ‘n’ ride.

Realignment works of Steve Irwin Way earlier this year.

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