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In the dark on upgrades

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In the dark on upgrades

The Department of Transport and Main Roads remains tight-lipped on plans for the Beerwah-Nambour rail service. WORDS: Steele Taylor.

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

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

But the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) could not confirm plans for the 28-kilometre 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. The group was told it had just over a year to relocate, before it was offered a five-year extension.

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,” the spokesperson says.

“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.”

A $1.5m Brisbane to Sunshine Coast Rail Study, also funded by state and federal governments, is underway as well.

The spokesperson says that study will develop a staged program of rail priorities on the North Coast Line to 2051, which will inform the B2N study.

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.

Local public transport advocate Robert Dow from RAIL – Back on Track says significant changes are required to rail services and infrastructure between Beerwah and Nambour.

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

“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 TMR spokesperson says the B2N project will 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,” they say.

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