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Home » Australian Politics » When it comes to the Tilt Train who needs seats? or how Anna Bligh tries to out do Mussolini

When it comes to the Tilt Train who needs seats? or how Anna Bligh tries to out do Mussolini

I expect that Ray will follow the  party line that the failure to order seats for a new passenger train was all part of the game plan for the Bligh government but the evidence does not support such spin at all:

No seats: The Tilt Train. Picture: Daryl Wright Source: The Courier-Mail

In late 2010, Ms Bligh announced the Government would invest $189 million to replace the current Sunlander service with a new tilt train as well as upgrade of the two existing trains.

The announcement included plans to include new “lay flat seats, similar to airline sky beds” and “smart, flatscreen TVs in all seats featuring in-seat entertainment with movies, news, sport weather and music on demand”.

“This $189 million investment means passengers on this world-class route will be able to travel in world-class luxury,” Ms Bligh said at the time.

However, it seems it will cost taxpayers much more to provide the luxury promised by Ms Bligh after Queensland Rail confirmed the seats and entertainment consoles were not included in the original $189 million price tag.

“Queensland Rail has a contract with Downer EDI to supply and fit-out the new Sunlander, and new carriages for the existing Cairns Tilt Trains, at a cost of $189 million,” QR said in a statement.

“This excludes the supply and fitting of seating and infotainment units, which are still subject to commercial discussions.”

QR compared this to how airline companies ordered planes.

Maryborough-based firm Downer EDI, which has the contract to build the new train, constructed the existing tilt trains, including fitting seats.

The existing Sunlander, which travels between Brisbane and Cairns, is being replaced after 45 years in service. It includes sleeper carriages and a dining car but is at least five hours slower than the tilt trains.

The bungle comes five years after QR’s CityTrain fleet expansion was derailed by new trains too big for key tunnels between Central Station and Brunswick St.


Pardon me but this has to be one of the most outrageous oversights from a shoddy government who are prone to such stuff ups, frankly its a wonder that the new train order included the wheels on the trains with this mob in charge! Of course there is more than a hint of irony that a so called progressive party who are committed to good environmental practice  should stuff something like this up!

  Further it strikes me as being rather strange that as the airline industry goes to a more utilitarian business model that the governemnt want to try to sell intercity train travel as a “luxury” experience…

A certain dictator was once reputed to have achieved trains running on time well it looks like Anna Bligh has been working on a reputation for trains that can’t fit through the tunnels or carry any passengers…
maybe what we need to envisage is Anna Bligh ending up like Benito …
Then again, maybe not, because the ballot box is always much better than a strong rope an angry mob and a lamp post

Cheers Comrades



  1. GD says:

    Just another sign that this government has lost track and run off the rails. They’re headed for a train wreck at the coming election.

  2. Iain Hall says:

    well at least if the train wreck involves the Tilt Train the casualty numbers will be low because without seats the train will be empty!

  3. GD says:

    It seems like the Tilt Train will be popular. Apparently it’s standing room only.

  4. Ray Dixon says:

    Name one government in Australia that has sorted out the train system. In Victoria we had the absurd situation that for over 3 years until recently, there was a 200 km gap in the line between Melbourne & Sydney meaning travellers had to disembark at Albury and catch a bus to Seymour to resume the ride. And after it was ‘fixed’, the trip from Melbourne to Albury (300 kms) took 6 hrs due to ‘mud holes’ making the track unsafe. And this was financed by your then Liberal Federal government, who wasted $500 million on a dodgy track. Bligh’s $189 million was obviously an early estimate and sounds pretty cheap. It didn’t include the full fit out because it is a staged project – that’s how I read it.

    You wouldn’t be trying to divert away from little Campbell’s problems with his LSD&P candidates, would you Iain?

  5. Iain Hall says:

    Yes its all going to be cattle class with appointments to suit GD including anti slip flooring and provision for the carriages to be hosed out after each trip as patrons will also not be provided with toilet facilities and like cattle they will be expected to do their stuff where they stand…

  6. Iain Hall says:

    Its not about “sorting out the train system” its about getting some pretty basic things right when you buy or build rolling stock, namely that it should be both fit for purpose but also that it should fit through basic infrastructure like tunnels. Further we have a right to expect that when a government reports on the cost of a project that it will accurately inform the public of the true cost. Leaving out teh cost of seating form a report is fine IF you make that clear when you are boating about the new project but if you fail to do so just because you missed that in the original estimation process just shows extraordinary incompetence rather than it being just a normal part of the process as you want to imply.
    Finally I am not trying to divert attention simply because I don’t think it is a big enough issue to get bothered about.

  7. Ray Dixon says:

    “rolling stock” is just that, Iain. It’s the basic chassis, engine & shell and does not include the fitout. Same goes for airlines. When the contract was awarded it was for $189 million, period. You are projecting in hindsight here. If I buy or build a house for say $500,000 and proudly announce that to my friends & family, I am not including the costs of fitting it out with furnishings, landscaping an/or renovations to make it suitable, which might add another $100,000 – $300,000 to the total cost. But I have not lied or misled anyone.

    We’ll see how big an issue the indiscretions of your motley crew of LSD&P candidates proves to be.

  8. Dave says:

    This is a complete media beat up. It’s not a bungle. The trains and the seats were always intended to be separate contracts with different companies. Downer EDI supplies the trains and somebody else supplies the seats and the seat-back entertainment system. Why is this so hard to understand?

    If you buy a plane from Boeing or Airbus is comes out of the factory as an empty shell. It is then up to the buyer to contract somebody to fit it out with seats, toilets, galleys, etc.

  9. Iain Hall says:

    A train is not a plane Dave and if there was always an intention to why was not made clear when the contract was announced?
    As I see it the Bligh government was being either duplicitous or stupid in the way that this project was announced and neither option shows Bligh in a good light.

  10. Ray Dixon says:

    It’s about as big a news story as the Barry Hall one, Iain:

    “Bligh decides not to announce costs of train fit out”.

    Yawn ………………..

  11. Dave says:

    Ian, it WAS made clear when the contract was announced. Go to Qld eTenders and see for yourself. If the media couldn’t be bothered reporting this detail at the time, that’s not QR’s fault or the government’s fault. The bungle lies with the media not reporting all the facts at the time.

    The contract for the rolling stick was signed 2 years ago. The contract for the seats was always going to be decided closer to delivery because the technology for the entertainment system changes so quickly. If both contracts had been signed at the same time, no doubt the media and armchair experts would complain about QR buying “out of date” technology.

  12. Mike says:

    It seems very implausible that both QR and Downer EDI both forgot the seats. The explanation that a third party is designing and delivering the seats and the entertainment system as a separate contract seems more plausible. Considering the original drawings and publicity showed seats and compartment fittings it would be strange if someone forgot them. It would also show incompetence on part of the contractors if they also “forgot” the seats and never mentioned it during the large number of meetings held during design phase.

    The other comment about the trains being too big due to a QR bungle is incorrect. The contractor that supplied the air conditioning units made the mistake. The mistake was detected by QR during the pre delivery checks. QR then had 3 options. 1) Replace the air con units, 2) run the trains only through the larger of the two tunnels between Central and Fortitude Valley, or 3) enlarge the smaller tunnel. The first option would have left the trains idle for 12 months. The second would cause scheduling problems. They chose the third option as it was actually the cheapest in the long run and gave them more options in the future.

    Both “bungles” exist only in the extremely biased minds of certain reporters at the Courier Snail who don’t have the slightest clue what they are talking about.

  13. Mike says:

    Part 2, I think there is something else going on here. Downer EDI recently withdrew from several QR tenders because QR would not guarantee it would get the work. They lobbied QR to ditch the “open tender” process and only use a “preferred contractor” process.

    This sounds like a “get even” story.

  14. […] When it comes to the Tilt Train who needs seats? or how Anna Bligh tries to out do Mussolini […]

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