Minister: drop in Gympie train passengers a win for region
A NEAR-25 per cent drop in the number of people riding Gympie's rails has been trumpeted as a win for the region's economy by State Transport Minister Mark Bailey.
Since the 2012-13 financial year the number of passengers boarding trains at Gympie North Station has dropped from 16,584 to 12,689 in 2018-19, a 23 per cent decline.
It comes as traveller numbers along the Outer Sunshine Coast line, which stretches from Gympie to Elimbah, have surged more than 9 per cent from 464,000 to 507,000.
Passenger numbers at Traveston, Pomona and Cooroy have also dropped, whereas Cooran's numbers increased slightly.
Mr Bailey said the figures reflected a growth in the region's businesses.
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"I believe we're seeing more people in Gympie choosing to work closer to home, instead of making the daily commute from the region to Brisbane,” he said.
"There are more local jobs (19,330 according to National Institute of Economic and Industry Research data) and businesses (4455, ABS data) in the Gympie area than ever before.
"And we've seen Gympie's economy grow from just over $1.5 billion, 16 years ago, to more than $2.16 billion.”
He said the presence of major employers like Nestle, Nolan Meats and Laminex in the region meant "Gympie has become a choice destination for families to live and work”.
And the State was still investing in the line to Gympie, he said.
This included $43 million earmarked to overhaul the signalling system so "newer, more reliable trains” can get to Gympie North, and early work on the Sunshine Coast rail.
The poor reliability of trains running on the Gympie line has been criticised by residents and public transport advocates.
In January, pressure group Rail - Back on Track proposed rail shuttle services between Gympie and Nambour to connect with the more frequent Nambour-Brisbane services.