ANNOUNCEMENT: Mary Valley Rattler return a big step closer
THE long-winded Mary Valley Rattler project made crucial progress yesterday with the announcement all Gympie Regional Council rail line and bridge repair work is now complete.
After works commenced in August last year, council officially handed over "certified track and structures” to the Rattler Railway Company for commencement of driver training and certification processes.
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Mayor Mick Curran called the handover a "great milestone” as the return of the Rattler and launch of passenger operations draws closer.
"Right from the outset, we wanted to deliver safe and sustainable infrastructure to the RRC so they can get on and run a very good tourism business which will benefit the wider Gympie region,” Cr Curran said.
"It (the project) has been controversial at times, but once the train is up and running and the general communities see the benefits ... this enterprise will bring to our region, those concerns will evaporate.
"What Council has delivered ... will minimise the ongoing maintenance costs for the RRC.
"I'd like to thank everyone who has worked on the project, the passionate volunteers, contractors, council crews and experts in their field - we are delivering a product which is at an incredibly high standard.”
Council's work on the project has so far included "significant works to 15 bridges including the complete replacement of the Crescent Road bridge”, with each receiving certification "requiring a level 2 bridge inspection which included a detailed assessment of each individual bridge component”.
Track refurbishment spanning 23 kilometres from Gympie to Amamoor required replacement of "20,300 sleepers, installation of new ballast, alignment of the rail” and further work "on all level crossings and the Amamoor turntable”.
RRC Chairman Ian McNicol commended the host of dedicated workers behind the project's progress.
"We always knew we'd have a day like today and we're close to full operation so we're very happy, I think the credit goes to ... the perseverance of a couple hundred people that have kept working through this process until today,” Mr McNicol said.
"As people see the track being utilised through training, they'll realise the effort we put in over the last three and a half years was worth it.”