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Urgent investment needed to keep Cairns rail freight viable

The State and Federal Governments urgently need to invest in the northern corridor of Queensland Rail’s freight network for it to remain competitive and commercially viable according to Cairns Regional Councillor Richie Bates.

Cr Bates, a public transport advocate whose division includes the major rail yards in Cairns says, “Huge investment in the Bruce Highway has eroded the market share for the North Coast Rail Line leaving rail freight at risk of failure”

“While I remain supportive of road funding, the disproportionate spending on our highways over rail has made rail consignment unpalatable, forcing freight users on to our roads with heavy vehicles”

“If these circumstances continue rail will become unsustainable with the far north becoming reliant on road freight and exposed to the uncertainty of shifting fuel prices”

“Cr. Bates continued, regional roads and highways are already congested, huge increases in trucks on our roads will bring negative consequences to road safety”

“There should be no place for long haul containerised freight on our highways – this should be the domain of rail”

“The Far North needs transport diversity to support access and development of the region. We can ill afford to lose another pathway into Cairns, especially when extremes of weather and wet seasons can shut down arterial links to the city”

“The Rail Tram and Bus Union’s submission to the Queensland Government’s Draft State Infrastructure Plan (SIP) highlights these risks to our community and the economy, and I am sympathetic to their desire for investment in rail”

“I shall be contacting the Member for Cairns on this issue, and will seek his understanding and support”

“It is time for the State and Federal Governments to prioritise the upgrading of the North Coast Line and deliver transport security to our region”

Council to support NYE Bus services

Cairns Regional Council is set to support post-midnight Sunbus services for New Year’s Eve, at tomorrow’s ordinary meeting of council.

In the wake of last year’s transport issues, Council will enter into agreement with Sunbus and Translink to provide extra services until 1:30 pm, allowing party-goers an alternative method of getting home after midnight.

CBD Councillor Richie Bates said, “New Year’s Eve celebrations will always be a part of our city and we need arrangements in place to get people home safely and efficiently – relying purely on private vehicles and taxis is not good enough”

“Ideally we should be providing this service every year as a diverse transport strategy is the key to maximising access to our CBD and Esplanade area”

“New Years Eve is the busiest night of the year, a variety of people will be visiting the city centre for entertainment and attractions. Council wants to make this experience as enjoyable as possible for all concerned, while allowing people to better plan their night out”

Cr. Bates continued, “The estimated cost of $15,000 is money well spent as it will extend existing services well past midnight to routes north and south”

“This council has made a concerted effort in supporting the revitalisation of the CBD with revamped public infrastructure and new transport facilities. We want to make the most of these improvements and give the community every opportunity to use it”

“A public transport vision for Cairns is vital for our livability and economic growth as a Smart City – Permanent New Year’s Eve Sunbus services should be part of that”

First wave of construction for Cairns Aquarium

Major work is set to commence on the new Cairns Aquarium site this week with an official sod turning on Wednesday at 11am for Australia’s first public aquarium in more than 15 years.

Cairns Councillor for the CBD and inner suburbs Richie Bates was delighted with the announcement saying, “I have been an advocate for this development since it first came to my attention in 2012 – This is a visionary tourism project that supports marine science and education”

Cr. Bates continued, “The Aquarium project founders Daniel Leipnik and Andrew Preston have shown enormous tenacity and initiative to get this venture underway, I commend them for creating something very special for our city”

“Not only will Cairns Aquarium become one of regions best tourist attractions, it will provide jobs and investment for Cairns, with a total project value well in excess of $40 million”

“100’s of local construction jobs followed by full-time operational positions, supporting 500,000 visitors a year creates a significant economic benefit for the area”

“Combine this with involvement from 30 research and education organisations and it’s not hard to see the sustainable value that this infrastructure brings”

“The Aquarium has backing from all levels and government, public and private stakeholders, this is a facility that our community can be proud of, and feel a sense ownership”

“This iconic attraction will provide a unique CBD setting to showcase the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics”

“The 3 level aquatic wonderland will be innovative and world class with millions of litres of saltwater and freshwater habitat supporting thousands of fish, animals and plants”

“I’m proud to say Cairns Regional Council has been instrumental in support of the Aquarium and I look forward to its completion in January 2017”

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