Rattler needs "robust business plan" to get government grant

GYMPIE'S most famous tourist attraction, the Mary Valley Rattler, is only a business away from a $2.6 million state government salvation package.

But "robust" is the key word as enthusiasts, politicians and the state bureaucracy search for a way to get the famous Mary Valley Rattler back on track.

After more than three years of inactivity, the old steam train and its rolling stock need a big maintenance effort and that will include considerable cost.

And the track, already in a bad enough state to fail a safety audit back in late 2012, has also been substantially damaged by flood waters, with ballast completely washed away in places.

So the robust plan must include a lot of track reconstruction, effectively limiting how far the train will be able to run, at least in the early years.

The new Labor Government says it has honoured the commitment of the previous Campbell Newman LNP administration to provide the money, but State Development Minister Anthony Lynham says this includes the "robust business plan" condition.

Gympie MP Tony Perrett tackled Mr Lynham in a parliamentary question on notice last year, asking how much of the originally promised $2m had been spent and on what, and when would the government make a decision on the Rattler's future.

READY, SET: Adam Cross would love to race the rattler again.
READY, SET: Adam Cross would love to race the rattler again. Renee Albrecht

Early this month, Mr Lynham said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had already confirmed that her government would honour the previous government's commitment of $2.6 million.

Mr Lynham says the previous Government's funding commitment also was conditional on a plan "demonstrating the long-term viability of the Mary Valley Rattler".

Then came the bad news.

"The original business case, submitted on September 1, 2014, did not satisfy this criteria and required re-documentation," Mr Lynham told Mr Perrett.

He said the department had worked closely with the Rattler organisation to prepare "a realistic assessment of the initial capital investment, along with the ongoing maintenance and the forecast operational budgets."

To date, spending had totalled $257,000, he said.

This had gone on project investigations into the condition of track and bridge infrastructure, specifications for remediation work and seeking business, tourism and accounting input into preparing the case.

"The resulting business case will be considered by the Queensland Government in 2016," Mr Lynham said.

A State Development spokesperson said "the consultation process is currently being undertaken with all relevant government agencies."

Meanwhile, many Gympie people can hardly wait, including runner Adam Cross, who fondly remembers racing the Rattler, a person against machine novelty run he wants to enter again soon.

Gympie Times

Topics:  gympie mary valley rattler

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