Frustration as Coast rail duplication back at square one
HE'S not giving up, not yet.
But after more than four years of broken promises, fruitless studies and empty commitments, you couldn't blame Jeff Addison if he did.
The Palmwoods commuter and Sunshine Coast spokesman for Rail Back on Track has been relentless in his push to see improvements to the public transport artery servicing the Coast.
As pressure increases on the Bruce Hwy, rail duplication is passed around like a political football and every day, Mr Addison and thousands of other commuters become more and more jaded.
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"Despair would probably be the term," Mr Addison said.
"We despair every time they change the timetable.
"Our journeys get longer, the express legs get shorter."
The latest blows to Mr Addison's efforts were delivered by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Responding to a question on notice put forward by Buderim MP Steve Dickson, Ms Palaszczuk revealed that Sunshine Coast rail duplication plans were back to square one.
"While this government will not be pursuing the Strong Choices asset sales campaign, the Beerburrum to Nambour rail upgrade project will continue to progress via the State's Project Assurance Framework with a view to having a Preliminary Evaluation, including Cost Benefit Analysis, completed by mid-late 2015," she said in response to the question asked on May 7.
Preliminary evaluation marks only the second stage in a seven-step process under the Project Assurance Framework endorsed by then-Premier Anna Bligh in November, 2007.
Ms Palaszczuk said the preliminary evaluation undertaken would also consider the potential for staging and sub-options, to stretch the investment over a longer period, a process which, when asked by the Daily last week, could not be explained by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad's office.
A TransLink spokeswoman said a cost benefit analysis was currently underway on the proposal and once complete, sometime before the end of the year, it would form part of the preliminary evaluation. If approved, State Government would explore funding options.
If approved, business case development would begin on the duplication, and while it was clear the State Government's funding plans centred on lobbying Federal Government to finance at least part of the project, Ms Trad's office was also unable to confirm what sort of priority it would be given.
What does the Coast need to keep us connected to Brisbane?
This poll ended on 30 June 2015.
We must improve our rail system, we will fall so far behind without it
Improve the Bruce Highway, everyone uses their cars to travel
Why keep wishing, we'll never see the dollars
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
In May 2014 all eight states and territories signed up to the Federal Government's $5 billion Asset Recycling Fund initiative.
The program was designed to encourage the long-term leasing of state-owned assets to drive infrastructure development.
Dependent on the value of the asset and the amount to be reinvested directly into infrastructure, the Federal Government would chip in up to 15% of the price to assist with infrastructure projects.
Of the eight states and territories that signed up in May last year, two of those were Labor governments.
The then-Newman Government pledged $532 million for the duplication if re-elected. But the ALP firmly opposed asset sales or long-term leasing.
Mr Addison was scathing of Nicklin Independent MP Peter Wellington.
"He (Mr Wellington) gave them government for a $3.3 million upgrade of Nambour Train Station, it's extremely disappointing," he said.
"He's done nothing to get it happening and you can't keep blaming the Federal Government."
RAIL DUPLICATION TIMELINE:
2007: Premier Bligh endorses Project Assurance Framework, as Caboolture to Beerburrum duplication and upgrades from Beerburrum to the north discussed
2009: Bligh commissions study into line duplication from Caboolture to Beerburrum
2009: $298m Caboolture to Beerburrum duplication complete
October 2013: State Government makes submission to Federal Government for funding Beerburrum to Landsborough upgrade project
Post-2013: Landsborough to Nambour lines lay dormant, no upgrades actioned
May 2014: All eight states and territories, including two Labor governments, sign up to Asset Recycling Fund, encouraging long-term asset leasing to fund infrastructure development
2015: LNP voted out in Queensland on back of strong anti-asset sales/lease campaign by ALP, despite promising $532m for rail duplication if re-elected, dependent on asset leasing
May-June 2015: Premier Palaszczuk says Sunshine Coast rail duplication project is back at preliminary evaluation and cost benefit analysis stage