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Funding puts direct rail line back on track

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Funding puts direct rail line back on track

But community leaders say more financial commitment is needed to ensure stages 2 and 3 of the project remain on the agenda.

The federal government has committed a further $1.15 billion towards a heavy rail line on the Sunshine Coast.

Minister for Transport Catherine King announced the funding boost, which should see Stage 1 of the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line come to fruition.

The federal government has now pledged a total of $2.75 billion towards the project, while the state government has also committed $2.75 billion, to fully fund the $5.5 billion job. The first stage will see a 19-kilometre dual track built from Beerwah to Caloundra, making it the longest spur line in Queensland’s south-east passenger network. Planned future stages of the line are expected to go from Caloundra to Kawana and from Kawana to Maroochydore.

The funding has been welcomed by the University of the Sunshine Coast, but academics say more needs to be done to address transport issues in the region.

UniSC vice-chancellor and president Professor Helen Bartlett says the line needs to be extended to Maroochydore, with efficient bus connections from stations.

“Funding for this first stage is a great start, but we want to ensure that stages 2 and 3 remain firmly on the government’s agenda,” she says.

“Our projections and future planning have identified the need to provide upgraded transport connections to our campus at Sippy Downs, and this means ensuring the line doesn’t stop at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast.”

UniSC lecturer in urban design and town planning Dr Greg Mews says a rail link is key to mitigate road congestion, and it needed to be designed strategically.

“The rail link is a missing piece in the region’s structural DNA,” Dr Mews says.

“The first stage of this rail project to Caloundra is promising and can mitigate some of the impacts of substantially more people moving to the Sunshine Coast, but we still vitally need more travel options connecting the major urban centres to lifestyle settlements along the Coast.”

Sunshine Coast Mayor Rosanna Natoli has welcomed the funding but is calling on the government to reinstate the $7 million in funding withdrawn from the Caloundra Transport Corridor Upgrade project, and restore the $160 million commitment to jointly fund, with the state, Stage 1 of the Mooloolah River Interchange. She says the council will continue working with the federal and state governments on how to deliver this project beyond Caloundra.

“Our ultimate goal (is) securing funding to deliver the rail connection to Maroochydore,” she says.

SAFE SPACES ROLL OUT

Sunshine Coast police are continuing to take steps to support domestic and family violence (DFV) victims and survivors.

Coinciding with Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month, the force is establishing ‘safe spaces’ in police stations.

Safe spaces are designated private rooms or areas in police stations that are specially for community members to discuss DFV matters.

A safe space was rolled out at the Maroochydore Police Station recently.

Christopher Jory, Assistant Commissioner of the Domestic, Family Violence and Vulnerable Persons Command, says safe spaces will enable those impacted to feel comfortable and supported reporting their experience to police.

“The introduction of private, safe and secure spaces in every Queensland police station marks a significant milestone in our commitment to providing compassionate and effective support to DFV victim-survivors,” he says.

“These dedicated rooms ensure that victim-survivors of DFV feel comfortable and supported when reporting their experiences to us.

“By prioritising their wellbeing and providing a safe and welcoming environment, we empower survivors to come forward and seek the assistance and support they need to break the cycle of abuse and find safety.”

Stations will continue to upgrade these spaces, based on their areas’ changing needs and expectations.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic and family violence, contact 1800 RESPECT. If it is a life-threatening situation, contact police on 000.

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