Curran not rattled by criticism over controversial blowouts
MAYOR Mick Curran has maintained his strong defence of the controversial Mary Valley Rattler project after last week's announcement that Gympie Regional Council had completed all repair work on rail lines and bridges.
Speaking at the official handing over of "certified track and structures” to the Rattler Railway Company on Friday, Cr Curran drew comparisons to initial criticisms of another recent project.
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"Any major project council undertakes will always receive some criticism ... sometimes the critical voice is heard louder than the positive voice,” he said.
"Did we not have some of the same people questioning our aquatic centre?
"If you look at those numbers, we had 18,000 on average per season visitations to our old memorial pool, which I must say served our community very well. The new centre in the first 12 months (received) 147,000 visitations.
"It's really chalk and cheese, it's great to see so many people using that facility ... but since the Rattler stopped running many community leaders have said that the economic benefit to this region would be significant.”
In 2012, the Rattler was suspended indefinitely after derailing twice through the year, while the rail regulator noted at least 8000 sleepers needed replacing.
GHD Engineering's initial report to recommission the Rattler in 2013 estimated costs at $7.15 million over five years, but the project suffered numerous blowouts.
The latest increase in estimates had the revival costing $17.5 million in total.
Council announced the train would get back on track in March, then in July, but 1500 more sleepers were found in disrepair in mid-June.
Cr Curran said the budget and time setbacks had been necessary to ensure safety for the community.
"We had a quadrennial election in 2016, it was my commitment to the community that the rattler would run,” Cr Curran said.
"That has been achieved today (Friday), and we will see trains with driver familiarisation commence ... within the next week.
"That was supported by the majority of people elected in 2016.”