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IN RESPONSE to Ken Coulter's opinion: Hinterland rail link makes no sense (Daily, September 30), it's important your readers understand why duplicating the rail line from Beerburrum to Nambour is so important.
Firstly, public transport and railway services and infrastructure are State Government responsibilities and Sunshine Coast Council is strongly advocating for this rail line duplication.
Secondly, the rail line is on an 1890s alignment. Its many twists and turns and aging infrastructure make it impossible for trains to travel at speed.
Being a single line limits train movements and causes further congestion on the busy rail line, and forces more traffic onto the already crowded Bruce Highway.
This rail line doesn't stop at Nambour. It is the state's primary rail corridor and services 58% of the Queensland population.
Duplicating and straightening the rail line will allow faster journeys and better scheduling for passenger and freight services.
While six-laning the Bruce Highway - a Federal Government responsibility - is necessary today, we can't keep adding lanes in the long term and I would hope to see a fast rail service between Sunshine Coast and Brisbane in the not-to-distant future. Again, the duplication will allow that to become a reality.
A connecting light rail system from Beerwah, through Caloundra South, Caloundra and travelling along the Nicklin Way, past the Sunshine Coast University Hospital to Kawana, Mooloolaba, Maroochydore City Centre and the Sunshine Coast Airport provides more public transport benefits than a heavy rail system on the CAMCOS corridor.
For starters, if light rail isn't introduced, a minimum of four lanes each way will need to be added to Nicklin Way to cope with the increased congestion.
At $2 billion, a 43 kilometre light rail system is 30% cheaper than heavy rail. Light rail can be delivered by 2025 and there is no timeframe allocated for heavy rail.
Another benefit of light rail, as the preferred public transport system, is that it serves catchments on both sides of its alignment whereas heavy rail on the CAMCOS corridor has population mainly to the east.
And with light rail stations provided at around 800-1000 metre spacings, it provides ready access for patrons within a 400-500 metre range, compared to heavy rail stations provided at 3-4 kilometres and detached from residential areas.
Light rail is the right solution for Sunshine Coast public transport today, complemented by heavy rail to connect larger Sunshine Coast centres to Brisbane, when supported by future population growth in the future.
The State Government's SEQ Regional Plan highlighted that 200,000 additional residents will move to the Sunshine Coast Council over the next 20 years.
Council has undertaken extensive planning to accommodate them to reduce the environmental footprint. The Beerburrum to Nambour rail duplication and the light rail system from Beerwah to the airport are part of the solution so we can shape a smart, healthy and creative future.
We encourage our community to support council's call for both the North Coast Rail duplication and a light rail system during the upcoming State election. Both are State Government responsibilities and both are essential to our long term traffic management solutions.
This article first appeared on www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au
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