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DESIGNS flaws plaguing Queensland’s heavily delayed project to deliver 75 new passenger trains will cost the State Government an extra $150 million to fix.
The cost of the $4.4 billion New Generation Rollingstock project design changes have been revealed by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad today as she announced a “major milestone” for the controversial project.
Fixing disability access problems with the design of the new trains will cost the State Government $100 million, while a design change relating to the placement of train guards will cost $50 million.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad warns the rectification works “will come at a cost to the state”. Picture: Claudia BaxterThe extra $150 million in State Government funding would be taken from a project contingency fund, but will not blow out the project budget, according to Ms Trad.
Ms Trad told media today she had met project managers and manufacturer Bombardier and asked for it to make a start on the changes, but warned the rectification works “will come at a cost to the state.”
“We know that we have got to make some rectification works.. in order to make them fully compliant and functionally accessible to Queenslanders with a disability,” she said.
She said it just 22 minor issues remained – down from 480 “critical issues” in February and blamed the disability access design issues on a bungled order by the previous LNP Government.
Toilets on the trains will now be redesigned to accommodate people with a disability, but will only be fitted on 35 of the trains used for long distance trips.
Toilets will be removed from the remaining 40 trains.
Calls to move the guard space to better help disabled people board were rejected as too expensive.
A New Generation Rollingstock train at Ipswich.QR chief executive officer Nick Easy said platform boarding assistants would instead be used.
Disability advocate Geoff Trappett attacked plans to roll out the trains before rectifying the toilets as short sighted. It comes after advice the toilets would be progressively rectified.
He also criticised the plan to use station staff to help disabled people to board, warning it would only increase cases of disabled people being left at stations because they could not board trains.
The first of the trains has now been ticked-off on by the State Government, subject to the remaining problems being fixed. It comes almost two years after it arrived for testing.
It is expected to hit the tracks in coming weeks, but Ms Trad could not specify how many of the new trains would be running by next April’s Commonwealth Games.
A report on QR by German railway operator Deutsche Bahn in July stated 18 of the trains would be needed to deliver the Commowealth Games transport plan.
“As I said we will make sure that as many new trains as possible will be running in time for the Commonwealth Games,” Ms Trad said.
“They need to all pass their testing. We are not going to cut corners.”
NGR orders were halted by Ms Trad in March over concerns about issues, including train aisle widths too narrow for wheelchairs, toilets that did not comply with disability standards in legislation.
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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