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    The Honourable Peter Beattie

    Rail come-back at full tilt

    The Honourable Peter Beattie

    Wednesday, February 14, 2001

    Rail come-back at full tilt

    Premier Peter Beattie said today a new tropical livery for the tilt train would stamp Queensland's unique identity on a new era in rail travel.

    Mr Beattie unveiled the new livery in Cairns, "a city taking a central role in the renaissance of rail travel".

    "Queensland's narrow gauge tracks are where the Smart State meets our rich industrial heritage," Mr Beattie said. "This unique Queensland combination of new and old is fuelling a renaissance in rail travel. "More than a million passengers used Traveltrain services in 1999-2000 - a 16 per cent increase on the previous year.

    "Some of the travellers were lured by the high-tech comfort of the tilt train, the world's fastest narrow gauge train, which carried 20% more passengers than had been anticipated.

    "Others were drawn to the old-world charm of the Kuranda Scenic Railway, and the romance of the Great South Pacific Express."

    Mr Beattie said the new livery would adorn the $138 million pair of diesel tilt trains that will traverse the Cairns-Brisbane track.

    "The distinctive and colourful livery reflects the sun, blue sky, beach and palms - the very essence of Far North Queensland," he said.

    "QR's two diesel tilt trains are expected to roll out of the Walker's workshops in Maryborough in late 2002, and begin carrying thousands of passengers at up to 160km/hr.

    "The tilt trains will cut travel times between Cairns and Brisbane by up to five hours, and give passengers a taste of Smart State expertise.

    "The workers employed on the tilt train project - up to 500 of them - will be at the cutting edge of rail technology.

    "At the same time, Queensland's rail industry boasts some of the best traditional artisans in the business.

    "These are the people at QR's Townsville workshop who built the magnificent Great South Pacific Express, the five star joint venture between QR and Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

    "Following a recent commitment from Transport Minister Steve Bredhauer, the same people will lead a $5 million upgrade of the Cairns-Kuranda heritage fleet - which has carriages aged up to 70 years. "The Labor Government values our Smart State workers, and we also salute the trades people who are themselves a part of our State's heritage."

    Mr Beattie said QR's Brisbane to Rockhampton tilt train service had been a great success since it began in November 1998. Patronage on the Brisbane to Rockhampton line increased by 130 per cent in the first year of operation.

    "Extending the tilt train service to Cairns will give residents of other regional centres, including Townsville and Rockhampton, a share in the benefits of revolutionary rail travel.

    "The tilt train service - running parallel with a $330 million Rockhampton-Cairns track upgrade - will also enhance regional tourism, and give visitors to north and far north Queensland another travel option. "At the end of the line, regional communities will reap the rewards of jobs and stronger economies."