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February 28, 2023 by ash

Contract awarded for $7 billion train program to the Hervey Bay Region.

A regional Queensland town will become a manufacturing mecca after a record $7 billion deal to make dozens of passenger trains over the next three years.

Key points:

  • New train manufacturing project to create 800 new jobs in Maryborough region
  • The facility will be based at Torbanlea, 25 kilometres north of Maryborough
  • The site’s first trains are expected to roll onto the network in 2026

The project, the largest of its kind in Queensland, will create 800 new jobs in the Maryborough region, about three hours north of Brisbane.

While the state prepares for an influx of international visitors during the 2032 Brisbane Olympics, 65 next generation trains to be built at Torbanlea are expected to be delivered by 2026, not 2025 as previously announced.

Following the Queensland government’s first community cabinet for the year, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced local manufacturing company Downer as the preferred supplier.

“This is the largest manufacturing announcement of trains that we have ever made in the history of this state,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Maryborough has a bright future, this region has a bright future and Queensland has a bright future.

“There will be 65 six-car trains and a purpose-built manufacturing facility at Torbanlea.

“This manufacturing plant will be completed next year where the trains will be made.”

Queensland made

Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders said he shared the premier’s vision for Maryborough to return to being a manufacturing hub.

“These trains are made by Queenslanders for Queenslanders,” Mr Saunders said.

“You can’t do it any better, the skill set that we’ve got in this city is what the Palaszczuk government believed in.

“Young people in my city won’t have to leave here to have a career. There is going to be jobs, they can stay here and raise a family in regional Queensland.”

Downer representative Adam Williams said the workload would be shared across generations.

“The program means a huge opportunity not just for the 520 people we have here on site, some of them are fourth- and fifth-generation rail workers,” Mr Williams said.

“The trains that we deliver from this program will support an unprecedented time of growth in Queensland over the coming years and enable delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032, with a transport system that is safe and accessible for all.”

What does ‘preferred supplier’ mean?

Downer was one of three shortlisted applicants selected after procurement.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said Downer would not sign the contract until next month.

“There’s still a few issues to be resolved before the final contract is signed in March, but that is a normal part of this,” Mr Bailey said.

“It was done entirely independent of government, done on clear criteria, and Downer has been selected by that process and the government has selected the recommendation.”

When asked about Downer’s affiliation with Anacta Strategies, a government relations lobby firm, the premier said the process had been independent.

“When it came to CBRC [Cabinet Budget Review Committee] they already had their preferred bidder … there was probity checks every step of the way,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Maryborough on the map

Community leader Nancy Bates said yesterday’s announcement was a game-changer.

“It’s certainly a massive boost on top of the resurgence of industries that we’ve got happening here in Maryborough,” Ms Bates said.

“In the first 40 years Maryborough existed, it turned from a bushland into an economic powerhouse and one of the leading industrial centres in Queensland, if not Australia.

“I think having the community cabinet meeting here and the big announcement they’re making today shows that Maryborough is well and truly on the map.”