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A US company that wants to build a $1.2 billion rail connection on the Sunshine Coast was told by the Queensland government there was “insufficient need”, despite it first being proposed by the government two decades ago.
The Caboolture to Maroochydore Corridor Study (CAMCOS) project was first raised by the state government in the 1990s to link the populous coastal towns to the heavy rail line to Brisbane. The designated route remains reserved as a public transport corridor.
American Maglev Technology lodged its market-led proposal with the government in 2015 but was told the need for the project was not high enough and the cost of TransLink subsidies was unaffordable.
The company estimated it would cost the government $30 million a year to subsidise through TransLink, compared with $80m set aside for the Gold Coast’s light trail system.
Under AMT’s proposal, the train would run on a rail line several metres above the ground and use opposing magnetic forces to hover above the tracks and propel the carriages.
AMT’s Australian representative, Dick Rowe, told The Australian the government told him it did not support the project.
“Something’s going to have to happen before the Sunshine Coast is caught in gridlock,” he said “Whatever they do is going to cost them money.”
The service would run every 10 to 12 minutes for 20 hours a day, reaching a maximum speed of 150km/h.
AMT estimated the capital cost would be half that of alternative light rail systems and operational costs would also be lower. In its proposal, it said it would transfer ownership to the state after at least 30 years and guaranteed construction within two years of approval.
Sunshine Coast rail advocate Jeff Addison said the region needed the rail connection to alleviate pressure on local roads and the highway between the coast and Brisbane.
“The government doesn’t want to spend money on public transport on the Sunshine Coast, it’s as simple as that,” he said.
A Department of State Development spokesman said the proposal had not been rejected but “consideration of the proposal was suspended at the request of the proponent in December 2016”.
Mr Rowe said the project was still on the table but had not moved forward because of a lack of support from the government.
The government’s State Infrastructure Plan said demand on the Sunshine Coast rail line would exceed capacity by 2031.
This article first appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au
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