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THE most luxurious train ever built in Queensland has re-emerged after a decade hidden away in a dusty work shed while elected officials broker a deal to give the public even greater access.
The opulent dark wood and stained-glass Great South Pacific Express has been mothballed in an off-limits section of The Workshops Rail Museum at Ipswich after the failure of a partnership between the State Government and the Orient-Express company.
The $35 million train, a symbol of the former government's excesses, could now become the museum's centrepiece.
Transport Minister Scott Emerson and Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, prompted by The Courier-Mail, intend to seek permission from the Orient-Express to allow the train to go on display and tour.
Cr Pisasale said it was a magnificent icon of an era when people travelled by rail in style.
"I want the skills of Queenslanders on display. This was built by Queenslanders," he said.
Museum director Andrew Moritz said the train would be a great drawcard for the facility, which attracts 85,000 visitors a year, and travel on the Orient-Express could be cross-promoted.
The train operated in NSW and Queensland for four years but business suffered after the 9/11 attack on New York's World Trade Centre and the global financial crisis. Orient-Express bought the train for possible use in Europe, but only one car was sent overseas.
That "missing" sleeper car is now believed to be in England after being moved from Italy.
Reports it was destroyed and sunk in Moreton Bay as an artificial reef have been denied.
Returning the train to full service, either in Europe or Australia, is an expensive proposition.
Maintenance and upgrades would cost several million dollars.
But the train could be used for day trips around the city at a much cheaper cost if Orient-Express agreed.
An Orient-Express spokeswoman said the company would await the minister's letter.
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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