TRAIN TROUBLES: $100M to fix faulty trains in M'boro
MARYBOROUGH MP Bruce Saunders is trying to see the silver lining to his government's $100 million mistake as it was revealed faulty trains will continue to be made in India before being modified in Maryborough.
Mr Saunders said more jobs would be in the pipeline after revelations the troubled New Generation Rollingstock will need to be ripped apart in Maryborough before hitting Queensland's railway system.
A major toilet cubicle design flaw in the State Government's $4.4 billion New Generation Rollingstock trains means the carriages will be transported to Maryborough from India to be fixed.
In what is mounting as a farcical situation for the heavily delayed train building contract with Canadian manufacturer Bombardier, southeast Queensland public transport company TransLink has confirmed all 75 trains under the contract will be built in India and shipped to the state with the identified design flaw.
37 trains, which will still be built with problem toilet cubicles, are yet to enter production under the project.
The faulty trains will then be split into individual cars and driven by truck to Maryborough, where the toilets will be modified to meet disability access standards.
It follows a $155 million deal with local manufacturer Downer EDI to fix the trains was announced by the Labor Government two weeks before the 2017 state election.
The money, which included an extra $50 million to fit CCTV screens in the trains for guards, would come from a project contingency fund.
The patch-up funding was trumpeted as a boon for local jobs in the must-win seat of Maryborough
But it was never revealed until now that faulty trains would continue to be built under the plan.
Mr Saunders said the good news was the required work would bring "substantive" jobs back to the job-starved town of Maryborough.
While the train design was approved by the previous LNP administration, the disability sector first alerted the Labor Government to the problems in January 2016.
When asked of the situation, Mr Saunders told the Chronicle it was the LNP that "put the yoke around the taxpayer's neck."
"It wasn't the Labor government, we inherited this contract and design from the previous LNP government," Mr Saunders said.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey's office defended the decision to keep building the trains under the original flawed design, arguing it would work out cheaper.
"It is appropriate to continue building the remaining NGR trains under the existing contract arrangements and then modify them in Queensland, as it more cost-effective and efficient," a spokesman for Mr Bailey said.
"It is also vital for the construction of the NGR trains to continue to ensure the ongoing new supply of trains to SEQ customers and to replace an aging Queensland Rail fleet, while the retrofit is carried out.
"We make no apologies for bringing this work back to Queenslanders and to Maryborough - a city with a proud rail history."
Both parties have blamed each other for the loss of the contract in 2010 when the trains first went out to tender.
But company turmoil, not politics was revealed as the reason for the loss of the Maryborough rail contracts.
Last year, Downer revealed it was forced to pull out of a tender for rail contracts when Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was Transport Minister for the Bligh Government.
In 2014 LNP Treasurer Tim Nicholls and Transport Minister Scott Emerson announced the trains would be built for half-price by Bombardier in Mumbai.
Issues with braking, disability access and heating systems emerged when the trains returned to Australia under the Palaszczuk government.
The Government would face million-dollar liquidated damages costs if it were held to blame for holding-up production. While the train design was approved by the previous LNP administration, the disability sector first alerted the Labor Government to the problems in January 2016.
Disability advocate Geoff Trappett said that was when the sector saw a mock-up of the trains and the Government was warned the toilets were non-compliant, but it pushed ahead with work.
"People with a disability are disappointed non-compliant trains continue to be built," he said.
"The disability sector is fully in support of an inquiry into how a tender can go so wrong."