Loco idea could derail kids' train
A POPULAR tourist attraction, youth training programs and a Bundaberg icon will be lost if a bureaucratic burden forces Australian Sugar Cane Railway to stop its train services at Bundaberg Botanic Gardens.
The railway group's representatives meet Transport Minister Rachel Nolan on Sunday to urge her to abandon proposals to put the family fun ride under the safety regime of Queensland Transport.
Volunteers say the group already follows stringent safety guidelines set out by the Queensland Government's Workplace Health and Safety authority.
“We believe we have a very safe operation under our current accreditation,” railway vice-president Ron Stitt said.
“We don't understand how Queensland Transport accreditation will make us operate in any safer manner.”
Mr Stitt said the plan has put the long-term viability of the train service in jeopardy.
The train service has not had one accident since it began taking passengers at its North Bundaberg location more than 20 years ago.
Member for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey has sent a message to the government to back off the community group.
“I really call on the government not to put barriers in front of this group, but reduce the bureaucratic interference,” he said.
Volunteer David Twiss, a Vietnam veteran, said maintaining the engines and passing on his skills to the volunteers and train enthusiasts filled his life with meaning.
“It's good therapy for us,” Mr Twiss said.
A Queensland Transport spokesman said the reason the railway needed accreditation with the department was that it crossed public roads in the botanic gardens.
“Because the Bundaberg railway crosses public roads and is easily accessible to the public it needs to be accredited to make sure it is safe,” the spokesman said.
“Safety is our priority.
“The Department of Transport and Main Roads is keen to work with the group to help them become accredited.
“There's no charge - it's all about safety.”
A spokeswoman for the minister said she looked forward to meeting with association representatives for a formal deputation on Sunday as part of the government's Community Cabinet in Bundaberg.