IPSWICH commuters will have to wait at least another six years before work starts on the local network’s long-awaited rail extensions.
The extension to the Ipswich rail network, including connecting Ipswich to Springfield and Redbank Plains, has been repeatedly promised by the Labor State Government.
Now, it has confirmed work will not start until after 2024, with the Government claiming “the extension(s) rely on the completion of Cross River Rail”.
That has been vehemently disputed by Ipswich Rail Advocate Robert Dow, who says work on the extensions should start immediately before the lack of transport infrastructure hits crisis point.
The Palaszczuk Government said this month it remained committed to the extension of the Springfield line and had set aside land for a future passenger rail.
But the Department of Main Roads did not say when the works would start and gave no budget details or an explanation as to why these extensions related to the city-centric Cross River Rail project.
Cross River Rail is a Brisbane CBD rail project that includes a 10.2km rail line between Dutton Park and Bowen Hills with a twin tunnel under the Brisbane River.
The inner-city transport project is due to be finished in 2024.
A spokesperson for the Palaszczuk Government said Cross River Rail would “provide the necessary capacity to expand the rail network, it is the key to unclog the bottleneck on our rail network and deliver additional services”.
According to a statement issued last year by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, Cross River Rail will deliver new links to Flagstone and Ripley.
Rail Back on Track advocate Robert Dow said the Ipswich extensions could, and should, go ahead independent of Cross River Rail.
“The lines can simply be extended out to Redbank Plains and Ripley,” Mr Dow said.
“The roads are failing badly and there is a massive amount of development happening along that corridor. We need to get more people on to public transport and off the roads. The only way to do that is have public transport.
“Redbank Plains is one of the fastest growing residential areas in this country. This is just nonsense.
“We have consistently been far too late in matching our infrastructure needs to actual growth.”
What Main Roads said
“The Ipswich to Springfield Future Public Passenger Transport Corridor has been preserved since 2009 following extensive community consultation.
The corridor is also identified as a future rail corridor in strategic documents such as SEQ Rail Horizon and Shaping SEQ.
Transport and Main Roads is undertaking a study to review and update rail corridor planning in response to surrounding land use.
The required timing of the extension will be determined as part of a broader rail network investment strategy.
It will consider factors such as whole of network train operating strategies and capacity constraints, as well as population growth along corridors and associated demand forecasts, particularly in peak periods when demand is at its highest.
Redbank Plains’ road network is mostly council.”
Originally Published: www.qt.com.au
Five Ipswich public high schools to get new classrooms
The State Government will commit $250 million over two years in the State Budget to build additional classrooms at more than 60 schools including Bremer, Ipswich State High School, Laidley State High School, Lowood State High School and Springfield.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Jackie Trad, said the ‘2020 Ready’ funding boost would support students in more than 60 Queensland high schools across the State.
“Our kids are our future and, as a government, one of the most important things we can do is give Queensland students a world-class education,” Ms Trad said.
“This investment will deliver more classrooms and learning centres to provide the best possible environment for learning.
“Queensland is a fast-growing State and this investment is about planning for the future.”
Education Minister Grace Grace said in 2020, for the very first time in Queensland’s history, high schools would have a full complement of students across Years 7 to 12.
“This infrastructure program is about making sure we are ‘2020 Ready’,” Ms Grace said.
“This $250 million investment will ensure our schools can accommodate the additional 17,000 students expected in our high schools from 2020 and into the future.
“It brings the total funding commitment towards increasing the capacity of state secondary schools to more than $470 million between 2017-18 and 2019-20.”
Ms Grace said the ‘2020 Ready’ program signals the next phase of Queensland’s major education reforms, which started more than a decade ago.
“Queensland’s first intake of Preppies were those whose birthdays were in the first half of the calendar year – so theirs has always been a much smaller cohort of students, known as the ‘half cohort’,” she said.
“Our next educational reform came in 2015, when we moved Year 7 into high school and established six years of secondary education, which was also supported with significant infrastructure investment.
“However, our smaller ‘half cohort’ has been in high school since 2015 too – meaning we have never had the full complement of students across all six year levels in our secondary schools.
“With the original Prep students set to graduate from high school at the end of 2019, we will have – for the very first time – six full year levels of students in Queensland secondary schools from 2020.
“This new $250 million investment for additional classrooms will prepare those schools identified as requiring additional capacity for the additional students expected in 2020.”
Life-saving helipad opens at Ipswich Hospital
A new helipad at Ipswich Hospital that will allow critically ill patients to receive life-saving care quicker has welcomed its first air ambulance.
The £250,000 facility has officially opened next to A&E on the site of the former Bridge School and has been fully funded by the HELP Appeal charity.
The helipad will enable air ambulance teams to transfer patients to the emergency room at Ipswich Hospital or other specialist centres much faster.
Previously, it took up to 15 minutes to reach A&E from the hospital’s old landing spot in the field of Copleston High School.
The facility also has built-in lighting, which means helicopters can land in the hours of the darkness for the first time.
Dr Neil Berry, consultant anaesthetist at Ipswich Hospital and East Anglian Air Ambulance, spearheaded the project.
“This goes back a few years now when I heard Nick Hulme, our chief exec, was thinking about purchasing this land where the school was,” he said.
“I had been pestering him for a helipad so I went and pestered him again and to Nick’s great credit he is always listening and from then on it’s been made to happen.”
He added: “You can never pin anything on one piece of equipment or one person but I actually believe that this will save lives in the future.
“Minutes sometimes do matter and I will be very surprised if we can’t attribute those minutes to this helipad and the saving of lives in the future.
“It’s a proud moment for both Ipswich Hospital and the air ambulance. It’s a nice feeling to see we are always progressing and it’s nice to think patients are going to get the timely treatment that they need.”
Ipswich Hospital boss Nick Hulme said this was a great example of charities helping to support the NHS with improvements that “frankly we can’t afford to do ourselves”.
He added: “This is one of the only helipads in the East of England that has completely unrestricted landing so it can land at any time night or day and therefore we can open the A&E department for critically ill patients who need to be seen in that golden hour – that first hour after a stroke or major trauma.”
Robert Bertram, chief executive of the HELP Appeal, said this was the 21st helipad the charity had funded.
BUDGET: Cash splashed to fix Ipswich’s congested highway
ONE of Ipswich’s worst intersections will be fixed with the Federal Government committing to fund an upgrade to the Cunningham Highway.
In his third budget, Treasurer Scott Morrison revealed $170 million would go towards improving the dreaded Amberley Interchange.
The project will include a realignment of the highway between Yamanto and Ebenezer Creek and an upgrade of the Ipswich-Rosewood Rd.
Expansions and growing military activity at RAAF Base Amberley has put pressure on the interchange.
The $170 million funding injection also comes as the Ipswich City Council considers a proposal from Lantrak to move 1 million tonnes of landfill each year to rehabilitate the New Hope coal mine at Jeebropilly.
According to the application more than 250 heavy vehicles would transit the highway each day.
The government says the Cunningham Highway upgrade will “improve travel reliability and reduce congestion”.
It is expected the Queensland Labor Government will match the funding to start the $340 million project.
Federal Labor MP Shayne Neumann confirmed his party would offer bipartisan support and also commit to fixing the highway in a “major boost for the economic capacity of the Ipswich region”.
“The road takes 2700 heavy vehicle movements a day, and plays a significant role in transporting people and freight between Brisbane and Sydney,” he said.
“These vital upgrades to the Cunningham Highway have long been identified on Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Priority List.
“That’s why it’s disappointing the Turnbull LNP Government have had to be dragged kicking and screaming to fund this project.”
Become an entrepreneur
OLDER residents in Ipswich will be encouraged to become entrepreneurs so they can stay in the workforce longer.
The Federal Government will roll out 20 new entrepreneurship facilitators across the regions over the next four years.
Ipswich, along with central Queensland, Ballina and Tweed, will benefit from the program.
The small business experts will teach mature-age people how to start and maintain sustainable businesses.
The Federal Government has set aside $2.7 million in the 2018-19 financial year for the project.
A further $15 million will fund the program until June of 2022.
The government has also committed to continuing the Job Change project that assists mature-age workers to remain in the workforce as retirement and pension ages creep upwards.
Amberley cashes in on Defence spending
RAAF Base Amberley will take a share in millions of dollars in upgrades in the Defence portfolio.
A new Air Traffic Control Radar will be installed at Amberley as part of an estimated $96 million investment in new technology across several bases.
Working accommodation, maintenance, warehousing and training facilities will be built to support the introduction of the Growler Airborne Electronic Attack Capability aircraft.
The project is scheduled for completion by early 2021.
A C-17 maintenance facility, aircraft apron and associated infrastructure will also be constructed.
It is scheduled for completion by early 2019.