'M'boro a jewel in the Wide Bay crown': MP
MARYBOROUGH has gone from "heading like Detroit" to becoming the number one manufacturing city in regional Queensland, MP Bruce Saunders claims.
After Downer EDI announced the $336 million repair bill for the 75 New Generation Rollingstock trains would be handed to the Maryborough-based plant, the Labor MP said it was "a shot in the arm" for the local economy that would ensure the Heritage City's manufacturing tradition would stay alive.
The $335.7 million project is expected to sustain more than 100 jobs in Maryborough, with a Downer spokesman confirming 60 of those jobs would be new.
"The preliminary program of work is expected to commence late-2019," he said.
"The infrastructure upgrade to our Maryborough facility is expected to be completed several months prior to entering the production phase of the program."
Major design flaws with disability access were identified when the Indian-built trains returned to Queensland in 2014.
The current project, more than double what was initially estimated in late 2017, is expected to support local jobs until the train refurbishments are completed in 2024.
Maryborough workers are expected to fix key design flaws that include building extra toilets for the trains, increasing their size and adding other improvements to make the carriages disability compliant.
Heralding the work as a major improvement for the town, Mr Saunders said the project would ensure the skill base would remain in the region rather than being outsourced.
"Not only do we make the best trains in Australia, but probably the world," Mr Saunders said.
"Maryborough was heading like Detroit City, now it's the jewel in the crown in Wide Bay and the number one manufacturing city in Wide Bay and regional Queensland."
Company turmoil and politics have plagued the decline in Maryborough's rail factory in recent years while both parties blamed each other for the loss of jobs.
Last year, the Chronicle revealed Downer was forced to pull out of a tender for the contracts in 2010 due to major losses on a NSW train project.
At the time, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was Transport Minister for the Bligh Government.
Mr Nicholls and then-Transport Minister Scott Emerson controversially announced the trains would be built for half-price by Bombardier in Mumbai in 2014, resulting in the problem-plagued carriages.
On Monday, the State Government announced they had accepted the recommendations of the Forde NGR inquiry, which found there were problems known by project middle managers before the design was adopted in 2013.