RAIL SHUTDOWN: Commuters face a week of disruption
RAIL services to the Sunshine Coast will be disrupted for a week in the September school holidays, putting pressure on commuters, to allow signal testing ahead of the opening of the Moreton Bay Rail Link.
A fleet of 200 buses will be used to carry passengers between Caboolture and Zillmere, the section of the North Coast Line which will be affected bore six days from September 16.
Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said connection of the MBRL to the system would take from 9pm on September 16 (a Friday) until early on September 23 the following Friday.
Rail commuter advocate Jeff Addison said what was telling was that while passenger services would be disrupted diesel engine freight services would not.
Mr Addison said in 2009 the line was closed for four days between Caboolture and Beerburrum but freight continued to operate.
The reason he said was found in a Freedom of Information request which showed Queensland Rail feared negative public impact if it led to food shortages in North Queensland.
Mr Addison said similarly when Nambour's Price Street rail bridge was knocked 30cm out of alignment two years ago the entire structure had been replaced within 24 hours.
He said the critical freight role played by the north coast line demanded its duplication to Nambour to meet the competing demands of commuter traffic.
Queensland Rail will offer express bus services during the six days the line is closed which may get commuters to their places of work earlier than 10.30am which had been the experience in past disruptions.
Mr Addison said QR would not charge for the bus component of the journey from the Coast to Brisbane during the six days the line is closed.
This would result in a 3-4 zone saving which he said was appropriate compensation.
Mr Hinchliffe said problems with an inadequate signalling system which had caused delays to the opening of the $1 billion MBRL had been overcome.
"To connect this line we will need to close the Caboolture line for six days which will be one of the largest rail line closures to ever take place in south-east Queensland," he said.
"We know that this will be a major disruption for commuters who travel between Caboolture and Zillmere on the train line, but it is absolutely critical work to allow us to make this historic rail line a reality for the people of the Moreton Bay region."
Extra station staff will be available at stations and bus connections to assist passengers and temporary timetables will be set.
"We have taken measures to limit the inconvenience for customers however we ask that regular Caboolture line customers take note of this substantial closure and have alternative options in place where possible," Mr Hinchliffe said.