Rattler ‘will go to Imbil’

THE Rattler will run all the way to Imbil.

Its engines and wagons will be restored.

And it will be marketed as a major tourism product, adding to the appeal of both the Gympie and Sunshine Coast regions and driving business recovery in the Mary Valley.

Those were the commitments of Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney at Old Gympie Railway Station yesterday.

And he backed them up with $600,000 for the Rattler Railway Company to fund rolling stock renovation.

"We will fund the Rattler to run to Imbil," he said.

But full restoration of the steam train service will not happen straight away.

What will happen straight away is a $2.6 million grant - $2 million for the track and $600,000 for the rolling stock.

"But if it costs a little more, we will find a little more," Mr Seeney said.

MP David Gibson said the money would get the Rattler "about half way - to Amamoor, Kandanga in about two years and then to Imbil.

"Like any project it has to be done in bite-sized pieces."

He said anyone who doubted the importance of the Rattler to the Mary Valley economy should "go down the Mary Valley and ask.

"We know it will drive economic benefits because of the economic losses we have suffered without it."

Mr Seeney said the Valley's darkest days were over.

"At different times the people of the Mary Valley have suffered because of a range of government decisions that are now behind us."

Referring to the $2.6 million which will get the process started, he said: "This is part of our contribution to restoring the Valley."

Acting Mayor Tony Perrett said the government and Gympie Regional Council would "support the volunteers who have given us this asset and support business.

"We want to recreate tourism as an economic driver in the Mary Valley," he said.

Rattler Railway Company chairman Paul Barnaby welcomed the $600,000 of "new money" in Mr Seeney's commitment, as well as the long term vow to rebuild the line all the way to Imbil.

"The $2 million for tracks was around last year, but the $600,000 means the steam engine and carriages will be fully restored.

"By the time the successful tenderer for the track has completed its work, we will have rolling stock ready."

His deputy Ian McNicol said he was delighted the government would supply both funds and co-operation.

"It's not a one-off. It's developing as a partnership," he said.

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