Full steam ahead on western rail push
A BID to lobby Queensland Rail for the reintroduction of sleeper and dining carriages is full steam ahead in Charleville as residents start a petition to bring back the services and boost flagging passenger numbers – often as low as 20 people per service – on the iconic Inlander and Westlander routes.
Charleville resident Ellen Scott said she started the petition in an effort to spur the restoration of the carriages, which were removed in 2015.
Ms Scott – whose father and brother worked on the railway – said the 18-hour trip from Charleville to Brisbane “is a long sit for old people and it’s nearly always old people who are using it”.
“I want the sleeper so I can use it when I go to the city,” she said.
“Last time I had to go to the city was to see the eye specialist.”
She said the trains had decent toilet facilities and she found them easy to use.
The 777km Westlander service runs twice-weekly between Brisbane and Charleville and in north Queensland the twice-weekly Inlander service between Mt Isa and Townsville is a 21-hour journey covering 977km.
Charleville fishing and camping shop Judey’s Browse-Inn owner Judey Aiken said the downturn of rail in the state’s south-west was “not good” for the region and she believed that losing sleeper and dining carriages had contributed to falling passenger numbers.
“We need that railway and we need the families here,” she said.