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Nicholls promises to fix the rail chaos

RAIL FOCUS: Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said fixing the rail network issues plaguing the state will be his priority.
RAIL FOCUS: Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said fixing the rail network issues plaguing the state will be his priority. David Nielsen

TIM Nicholls has declared that he will be a Premier with a focus on making the trains run on time if the LNP should win office at the next election.

The QT spoke to Mr Nicholls before Wednesday night's rail debacle that left thousands of passengers stranded on south-east Queensland lines.

The QT told Mr Nicholls Ipswich people were sick of the failures of the public transport system and rail in particular and asked whether he would be focussed on getting it right.

"Absolutely," he said. "Getting the trains to run on time and to be reliable and to provide the services people need is absolutely our focus. When we were in government we got the train reliability up to 96%. When we came to government it was sitting at around 88%.

"So we got the trains running, had enough drivers and delivered the services... and in a growing area like Ipswich, which is going to see population continue to increase, you need to have the facilities to give those public transport users the opportunity to travel."

Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller said recently in her budget reply speech she would like to see funds spent on extending the railway line from Springfield to Redbank Plains.

Mr Nicholls said he was not opposed to the idea, but added the entire rail network needed fixing and he would ensure that occurred.

"I know Jo-Ann Miller has made that call in relation to that and it is something we will certainly look at and investigate as to whether it stacks up in the sense of the number of passengers that are going to use it on a regular basis ," he said.

"But the greater priority is to make sure the trains are running on time and that we have enough drivers running on time.

"At the moment we don't have that. We have a Labor Party that is very much inner Brisbane centric with a (plan to allocate ) $4.5 million to $ 5 million for a 10 kilometre cross-city rail system that...we are not sure really stacks up."

There are numerous infrastructure projects that will require joint funding in the years ahead in the Ipswich region.

These include projects such as the $350 million Yamanto to Ebenezer/Amberley upgrade of the Cunningham Hwy involving 4.75km of work between Warwick Rd, Amberley and Ebenezer Creek, a notorious stretch of road known as an accident hotspot.

The upgrade includes the Amberley Interchange and an upgrade of the intersection of the Ipswich-Rosewood Rd which is a car park in peak times in the morning and afternoons.

Preliminary modelling suggests the congestion is costing the economy $45 million each year.

Mr Nicholls said Ipswich people and those in the region deserved suitable infrastructure and that he would be a champion for ensuring it was delivered.

"I think the things that are going to be important for people in Ipswich are jobs and making sure there is investment in the roads that are necessary so that people can travel ," he said.

"We know that commerce and business all needs good connections between our regional cities and we need to make sure that Ipswich remains connected to Brisbane, to the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast so that people don't spend time sitting in their cars waiting to get home, waiting to get to work and waiting to get to holidays."

Mr Nicholls said "making sure Ipswich has a strong and vibrant education sector" was important to him.

"We want our kids in all of our schools to have the best education to give them the best opportunities possible," he said.

He said he was determined to work with local government to also deliver on the services that were needed in regional centres.

He said that would include "working with local councils like the Scenic Rim council and Ipswich council, in whatever form that may take in the near future, to deliver the services on the ground that people want".

"The issues around transport and public transport are key issues and providing more and better health services in the West Moreton area are also important issues," he said.

"We know there is a new Mater Hospital going up in the new seat of Jordan in Springfield. As population grows and we see growth in places like Flagstone and Yarrabilba we are going to need to do things to fix Mt Lindesay Hwy, so they are all projects we are going to have to look very closely at."

Topics:  lnp qr queensland rail tim nicholls



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