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IT is unlikely an independent audit of the Sunshine Coast's inadequate rail network will speed up the much-needed duplication of the Beerburrum-to-Landsborough line.
The overdue assessment, announced by new LNP Minister for Transport Scott Emerson yesterday, will look into rail reliability and integrity in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Ipswich and Sunshine Coast.
However, while he admitted on the Sunshine Coast "there was clearly an issue with infrastructure capacity" given the "tight budget situation", the duplication would form "part of a pipeline of projects".
The blow to commuter hopes of a guaranteed fast track came as the State Government yesterday renewed its election pledge of $1 billion towards fixing the Bruce Hwy within 10 years.
A soon-to-be-formed Bruce Hwy Crisis Action Group, the Department of Transport and Main Roads will compile an "engineering-based" crisis plan with priorities.
Mr Emerson said that undoubtedly would include sections through the Sunshine Coast but did not specify any details.
Member for Glass House Andrew Powell said the priority for the Sunshine Coast stretch of the highway was the interchanges at Bells Creek Rd and Sippy Downs which are a "daily danger".
He said Coast residents had to be realistic about their hopes of an upgrade to six lanes between Caloundra and Brisbane.
"You can't look at the highway alone as a solution for congestion," Mr Powell said.
"I will continue to highlight the importance of duplicating the 17km stretch of rail to Landsborough and then also to Nambour.
"I am committed to meeting the former state government's promise of a 2031 deadline."
Sunshine Coast commuter advocate Jeff Addison said the rail services to the Sunshine Coast and to North Queensland could not improve until the single-track stranglehold was rectified.
"Freight services, passenger trains and long-distance trains all share the predominately single-line track," he said.
"It is unique in the Australia for the types of services it carries."
He said he hoped for a firm LNP commitment to a realistic duplication construction schedule once the state's finances had been assessed.
"Our region has been severely neglected over the past few years, in particular with the rail network, where duplication work stopped 24 days after the 2009 state election."
The LNP highway funding is conditional on the Federal Government kicking in additional money.
Member for Fisher Peter Slipper had promised to make this a priority when appointed Speaker in December last year. However his office did not return calls yesterday.
This article first appeared on www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au
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