Maglev representative Dick Rowe is frustrated that the State Goverment won't even consider a proposal to enable a full business case.
Maglev representative Dick Rowe is frustrated that the State Goverment won't even consider a proposal to enable a full business case. Patrick Woods

Dick puzzled by blocked bid to fix transport problems

COAST man Dick Rowe has been left dumbfounded by what he says is the State Government's refusal to let him solve the Sunshine Coast's transport woes.

Mr Rowe is the Australian representative for American Maglev Technology, a US-based technology development firm which has been trying to build a light rail network on the Coast since 2014.

Initially prepared to build an elevated, magnetic rail system instead of the proposed light rail network running along the coastline, Mr Rowe said they were now hitting more bureaucratic brick walls with their proposal to deliver a transport system on the CAMCOS corridor.

He's accused the State Government of lying this week after the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning said this week Maglev had requested "a significant financial contribution from Government" to progress its proposal.

A Department spokesman said the State Government had not rejected the proposal, but had suspended consideration in December 2016 at Maglev's request.

 

VISION: Artist's impressions of how the elevated rail system could look.
VISION: Artist's impressions of how the elevated rail system could look. Contributed

Mr Rowe denied his company had made any such request and said their proposal, worth about $1.2 billion which would deliver an elevated rail link from Beerwah to Maroochydore within two years, still stood.

He said his company was prepared to spend another $5 million-$6 million on a detailed business case if it could get a commitment from the State Government to give it due consideration.

The Daily understood Department staff had indicated community need for CAMCOS had not been proven yet, despite the inclusion of it as a new passenger rail line in the State Government's Connecting SEQ 2031 report.

 

PLAN: A diagram of the elevated rail line, which would operate 5m above the road.
PLAN: A diagram of the elevated rail line, which would operate 5m above the road. Contributed

Maglev submitted a market-led proposal to the State Government in 2015 to build the elevated, magnetic rail line from Beerwah to the new Maroochydore CBD with stops at Mooloolaba, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, Little Mountain, Caloundra and Caloundra South.

A future station at Beerwah East was also proposed, to enable park and ride services for Brisbane commuters to and from the Beerwah heavy rail station.

Mr Rowe said the network could be built in two years for about $1.2 billion, a cost his company, along with private investors, would cover at no risk to the State Government.

"Our commitment to it is still total," Mr Rowe said.

 

MAP: The map outlining where the proposed elevated rail line would operate and where stops would be.
MAP: The map outlining where the proposed elevated rail line would operate and where stops would be. Contributed

The State Government would be expected to pay about $30 million a year in subsidies for the operation of the system, a subsidy it already paid existing public transport providers.

Mr Rowe said the costs were based on recent TransLink subsidy rates.

In a presentation given earlier this year the preliminary proposed full fare from Maroochydore to Beerwah was $7.50.

Under the proposal, trains would run every 10-12 minutes, 20 hours a day, year-round.

 

VISION: Artist's impressions of how the elevated rail system could look.
VISION: Artist's impressions of how the elevated rail system could look. Contributed

The total trip time was estimated to be about 28 minutes at maximum speeds of 100-150km/h.

The elevated rail line would be accessed by stairs and lifts and it would be fully integrated with the TransLink system.

Mr Rowe estimated the system would carry about 12,000 passengers a day in its first full year of operation, between the various stops.

He said if the system proved a roaring success and profits increased there was potential to share revenue with the State Government who could take full ownership of the network as agreed, after a minimum of 30 years.

 

Dick Rowe can't understand the lack of support.
Dick Rowe can't understand the lack of support. Patrick Woods

Sunshine Coast Rail Back on Track spokesman Jeff Addison said he'd investigated the Maglev proposal and from what he could see it "ticks all the boxes".

He said the State Government indicating CAMCOS wasn't needed "flies in the face of other advice they've issued".

"Why wouldn't the government consider it? It's a gift," Mr Addison said.

"I really am astonished at this whole circumstance with this company."

 

Sunshine Coast Rail Back on Track spokesman Jeff Addison.
Sunshine Coast Rail Back on Track spokesman Jeff Addison. John McCutcheon

Mr Addison said he understood one of the world's largest infrastructure companies, backed by European pension funds, had supported Maglev's Sunshine Coast proposal.

"We're not talking pie in the sky," Mr Addison said.

"This company have offered if they get to Stage 2 of the Market-Led Proposal to do a $5 million-$6 million full business case. They can't even get support to get to that stage.

"The technology's there and it works."

Mr Addison said the magnetic levitation system was used successfully in Japan, South Korea and China and he was "flabbergasted" it wasn't being considered by the State Government as a solution to the region's growing public transport problems.

Rail projects proposed:

  • North Coast Line: $550m of $780m in funding committed to duplicate rail line from Beerburrum to Landsborough and upgrade from Landsborough to Nambour
  • Sunshine Coast Light Rail: Advanced planning is underway on a proposed light rail spine along the coast, after the council identified preferred routes between Maroochydore and Caloundra.
  • CAMCOS: The study was first undertaken in 2001 and land acquisitions have been ongoing since, but to-date, no rail line has materialised.


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