Rattler on track for more cash
MICK Curran is confident the Mary Valley Rattler will get all the $10.8 million it needs, with a lot more help from the state government and a still undefined council contribution.
The Gympie region Mayor brushed off concerns that the $2.6 million committed by the government so far would leave an $8.2 million hole in plans to get the railway back on track.
Up at Old Gympie Railway station yesterday, Rattler director Garry Davison joined Cr Curran and new Mary Valley councillor James Cochrane.
Mr Davison said he was concerned not only to see the project on track, but to see it on the right track, at an engineering standard to ensure its current problems never happen again.
He said it was initially proposed to run the train to Amamoor and back, allowing the upgraded Bruce Hwy to feed in the passengers via the Link Rd.
Cr Cochrane said he and all Valley residents were very keen to see the Rattler once again boosting the regional economy, attracting Sunshine Coast tourists as well as day trippers from Brisbane and specialist rail enthusiasts.
The benefits shared by the Mary Valley and the Sunshine Coast would be mutual, he said.
The Rattler would add to Coast attractions while the Coast provided a ready pool of Valley visitors.
Cr Curran said he was buoyed by discussions earlier in the week with State Development Minister Anthony Lynham.
He said the Minister had invited the council to apply for extra money through the Building Our Regions program and his department had helped guide the council on drafting its submission.
"The submission went in yesterday for funding of $5 million, with a recommendation that it be submitted for endorsement by the council next week, he said.
The early submission was made to meet the state government deadline, he explained yesterday.
"There will also be a requirement for the council to make a capital contribution.
"We strongly emphasised to the Minister that the proposal has economic benefits for the whole Sunshine Coast region, not just Gympie and the Mary Valley.
"It is the most intact heritage rail system in Queensland and offers a unique tourism product compared to what else is on offer in South East Queensland.
He said the council would not give up in its determination to see the Rattler run again "in a financially sustainable manner, noting its heritage and social significance to the region.
"The community support for the project continues to be overwhelming and we appreciate the community and volunteers' patience," he said.
Rattler or not, it was important the historic Gympie Station site remain in community hands.
"To facilitate that, the council will be considering a recommendation next week to commence discussions with the relevant state government departments.
"This will also enable master planning of the site to complement the Rattler's return to operations."