The Hon Stirling Hinchcliffe,
Minister for Transport and the Commonwealth Games
By way of introduction, our Association was founded by the community activists who successfully campaigned for the funding to complete the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (please see attached copy of letter).
In the absence of any other significant marketing by State or Local Government, we have successfully promoted the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail by organising great events, developing a professional website, and media promotions, including Channel 7 ‘Creek to Coast’ and the ABC radio ‘Spencer Howson Breakfast Show’.
The www.brisbanevalleyrailtrail.com.au website currently gets approx. 4000 unique visitors per month.
We’re also planning to organise a ‘Festival of Cycling’ based around the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail to coincide with the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
Our aim is to demonstrate the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail is a valuable tourism asset worthy of investment by the Queensland Government and we have been highly successful.
When the Palaszczuk government announced $1.8 million to complete the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, we were advised that the funding would be sufficient to complete the Toogoolawah to Moore section with some left over for other improvements. We considered this to be a great win for the communities that stand to benefit from the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.
We have a very detailed knowledge of the current and past history of funding for the construction of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, including access to the costings in the original report by Haliburton Associates.
It now appears the funding amount of $1.8 million was allocated without sufficient analysis of the actual cost of completing the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, considering time has not been kind to the old railway corridor.
At the request of the Dept. of Transport and Main Roads, Somerset Regional Council has recently undertaken a very detailed costing. I’ve seen the report and I’ve done the tour with their engineer.
Due to the large number of creek crossings and other significant civil engineering challenges, they estimate the actual cost of completing that section alone will be $2.9 million.
Therefore, the funding on offer now appears to fall short by $1.1 million. We do not believe this is a situation in which Somerset Regional Council has over-estimated the cost.
As vice-president of the local Chamber of Commerce, I have a good relationship with local civil engineering contractors. They confirm the costing by Somerset Regional Council is probably accurate.
The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail has huge potential to transform the local economies of the regions it passes through. We’ve recently been engaged in discussions with major investors who wish to develop rail trail tourism, including sponsorship of a 22-seater shuttle bus and bike trailer. Their investment is contingent on a completed Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.
When completed, the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail will be the longest Rail Trail in Australia and New Zealand. It will be ‘The Great Australian Adventure Rail Trail’.
The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail can only reach its full tourism potential if the Toogoolawah to Moore section is completed. An incomplete Brisbane Valley Rail Trail simply does not cut the mustard in competition with other rail trails. Multi-day tourism requires a completed rail trail so users can traverse it from end to end without the need to leave the trail.
The deal offered to the local Councils was that the Queensland Government would deliver a completed Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and that the Local Councils would then take on full responsibility for the maintenance, with a subsidy of $2.5 million over 10 years.
Somerset Council feels, not unreasonably, that a deal is a deal and the State Government should fulfil their side of the bargain.
When the funding was first announced, we were advised work should be completed by late 2016/early 2017. The lack of progress is a disappointment to the hard-pressed rural communities that benefit from the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. Failure to follow through with the project would be an economic body blow.
We are very frustrated with the current situation as we seem to have reached an impasse.
We are therefore writing to ask you to intervene to get this problem sorted to everyone’s satisfaction.
It’s been eight years since construction of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail in the present form was first started.
It’s more than time to get the job finished.
Paul Heymans, President
Brisbane Valley Rail Trail Users Assoc