QR Train Strain? Send in the clowns
TRANSPORT bosses will literally send in the clowns under a radical plan to ease pressure on the strained Queensland Rail network during next month's Commonwealth Games.
The Palaszczuk Government has confirmed it will pay roving performers and live acts to divert crowds exiting Commonwealth Games events en masse in a bid to stagger the arrival of rail passengers at Gold Coast train stations.
Transport planning has been identified as a key pressure point for the Games, with the rail network playing a crucial plank in easing gridlock on Gold Coast roads.
Just one train seating 750 people will take 468 cars off the road, planning documents show.
But the Games coincides with a time of intense pressure for Queensland Rail, which is still in the grip of a train driver shortage and faces a potentially disastrous court challenge that could sideline its New Generation Rollingstock fleet, blowing a hole in its Games planning.
Documents released to the State Opposition under Right to Information reveal one strategy to ease peak-hour pressure is to "stagger the flow of customers" by entertaining them en route.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said a range of themed entertainment was planned at key transport facilities to keep games spectators "engaged and entertained on their journey".
He said the entertainment would help spread out arrivals and departures around big events.
Entertainment includes roving performers between Nerang station and Carrara stadium.
"The performers will engage with spectators to encourage walking to and from the stadium, reducing queuing and keep people moving," Mr Bailey said.
"This is all part of the colour and excitement of the Games - we want people to enjoy their Games experience from the moment they step on the station.
Screens will also be installed at Helensvale and Nerang stations to play films and sporting highlights.
But State Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said Labor should be more focused on getting the trains to run on time rather than "trotting out circus acts or magic shows."
"Labor's ongoing rail fail and Commonwealth Games planning debacle would make Queenslanders sceptical that everything will run smoothly," she said.
QR faces ongoing uncertainty over the ability to continue using new trains that do run foul of disability access laws, despite the state arguing the trains were desperately needed.
The Australian Human Rights Commission this month released a preliminary decision rejecting an application by the State for an exemption to the rules to meet Games' demand.
Mr Bailey has previously insisted the problem trains would still run during the event.