Blowing whistle on fast train to Gladstone–Rockhampton
YOU know what is needed, a fast train service between Gladstone and Rockhampton.
Yes I'm on board the fast train push again, however, the preceding sentence wasn't said by me this time but to me by a visiting Brisbane businessman. Naturally my eyes grew larger, ears sharpened and head automatically nodded in agreement.
The Brisbane businessman was discussing social housing opportunities in Central Queensland with the changes the State Government are seeking to implement. I naturally wholeheartily agreed with him explaining my thoughts on a tri-city model, promoting a scenario of workers living with their families in Rockhampton, being able to easily and quickly commute to Gladstone for work and enjoy the uncluttered beaches of the Capricorn Coast to play. We, however, were thinking of different workers using the train service though.
Mine are wearing hi-vis shirts, his wearing short sleeved business shirts.
The cost of living in Gladstone is resulting in people leaving the city if they don't have high paying positions.
This is affecting the retail and hospitality businesses who are finding it difficult to attract and keep staff. Mr Brisbane sees the fast train service as a way for Gladstone retail and hospitality workers to be able to access more affordable housing in Rockhampton without leaving their jobs in Gladstone. Rockhamptonites looking for retail and hospitality positions would also have greater opportunities with the quicker access to Gladstone.
The total tri-city package would also be more attractive in attracting workers' families to Central Queensland cutting back the need for fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers and see more of the money earned in Central Queensland spent in Central Queensland.
However, despite the favourable pre-feasibility report and some talk at QR level, it would appear a fast train service has disappeared from the agenda. Are we too distracted in pulling our region apart than looking at unifying projects?
Take the de-amalgamation debate beyond rates rises to visionary leadership? Are we more likely to get major projects like a fast train or foreshore development being a council of 100,000 plus, than ones of 70,000 and 30,000?