Friends of the Earth Kuranda Media Release  

Paul Lucas, Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, is proud of the Cairns Kuranda Scenic Railway and it's 'elite' status as an 'engineering landmark', but Friends of the Earth Kuranda believes that the Beattie Government - and its recent predecessors - should be ashamed of the under-utilization, squandering and effective loss to the community of a major regional public asset.

"Mr Lucas is correct that this scenic railway has an extraordinary history, as today’s award by Engineering Australia indicates. But the Minister should not just pat the status quo on the back and overlook the dismal future for rail under current Government policies" said Sid Walker representing FoE Kuranda.

"In any honest appraisal of the rail connection between Cairns and the tablelands, Mr Lucas should acknowledge the poor use made of existing rail facilities in this area and the failure of successive Governments, in recent decades, to upgrade and expand rail so it becomes the basis for a sustainable, 21st century transport system in the Cairns region".

"Where is the commuter service which used to enable Kuranda residents to commute to Cairns by rail on a daily basis? Where are evening trains so Cairns’ folk can spend enjoyable evenings in Kuranda’s cooler tablelands environment? Why aren’t there any affordable seats on the train any more? Why isn't the rail system used right now to transport the majority of heavy goods, gravel and waste material up and down the range?

"Our region needs transport solutions which meet the challenge of the times. Instead of promoting a half billion dollar 4-Lane Highway up the Kuranda range and extolling the 'historic' qualities of the rail link between Cairns and the Tablelands, Mr Lucas should put substance into today’s rail system" continued Mr Walker.

"A proliferation of car-dependent suburbs in the Kuranda area - the inevitable consequence of the Government’s proposed 4-Lane Highway - is not compatible with the need to avert catastrophic climate change. When we plan for the future, we must plan for energy efficiency. Rail could provide the basis for sustainable settlements on the Tablelands."

"Mr Lucas should stop pushing costly, unwanted and unsustainable Highways and set his sights for our rail system a LOT higher " concluded Mr Walker.

Contact: Sid Walker, Friends of the Earth Kuranda: 07 4093 8384