Burnett MP Stephen Bennett has called on the government to restore long distance train capactiy to 100 per cent. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Burnett MP Stephen Bennett has called on the government to restore long distance train capactiy to 100 per cent. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

BACK ON TRACK: MP calls for trains to run at capacity

Burnett MP Stephen Bennett has called on the state government to look into covid safe practices which will allow long-distance trains to run at capacity.

Mr Bennett said at the moment long-distance regional trains were only allowed to operate at 50 per cent passenger capacity due to COVID-safe distancing.

But a QR spokesman said plans for restoring full capacity were on track.

Mr Bennett took to the floor of parliament this week to ask the Transport Minister Mark Bailey to seek advice from the chief health officer on COVID-safe practices that will enable long distance trains to operate at full passenger capacity.

"This is decimating train travel to support tourism recovery," he said.

"There is no designated social distancing on suburban trains or domestic air flights in Queensland, so why must we still sit rows and rows apart on our tilt trains?

"Our long-distance trains play a vital role in our community but there are currently very limited availabilities.

"Even if passenger's book together, some are still being seated apart. We need a little more commonsense here.

"It's time for Minister Bailey to get on board with tourism recovery and stop decimating train travel."

Transport Minister Mark Bailey shot back at Mr Bennett, saying the State Government had thrown support behind Bundaberg's tourism sector.

"The Palaszczuk Government is right behind people travelling on our trains to experience the Wide Bay Burnett region, with discounted fares of up to 40 per cent already in place for people who book in advance," he said.

"We've backed tourism in the region with more funding for the Mon Repos Turtle Centre, $9.5 million to build the Bundaberg to Gin Gin Rail Trail and support through our Arts and Cultural Recovery Package.

"That's on top of major transport and roads investments like the $20 million upgrade to the Bruce Highway north of Childers and $42.5 million Isis Highway upgrade to make the road safer for the local community and those who might want to travel by car to experience the region.

"I encourage everyone looking for travel ideas these upcoming holidays to consider heading to the region for some unique experiences like the southern Great Barrier Reef, the Mon Repos Turtle Centre and of course the famous Bundaberg distillery."

Queensland Rail Executive General Manager for Travel and Tourism Martin Ryan said plans to restore full capacity to long-distance travel were on track.

"Queensland Rail has a proud history of connecting communities across the state and is conscious of its important role in supporting regional tourism," he said.

"Queensland Rail is well progressed in its planning to transition to 100 per cent capacity on long distance travel services, and expects to be able to notify customers soon."

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