Sunshine State sets the standard

WORLD EXCLUSIVE:

The Queensland Government is to spend $126 billion to convert the state’s narrow railway gauge to the world standard four-foot, eight-and-a-half inches.

The Queensland Government is to spend $126 billion to convert the state’s narrow railway gauge to the world standard four-foot, eight-and-a-half inches.

Premier Annastasia Palaszczuk announced the project this morning and released an artist’s impression developed by Queensland Rail. (main picture)

It will be the nation’s largest infrastructure project ever, dwarfing the 1950’s Snowy Mountains scheme.

Ms Palaszczuk said that although she was a proud born-and-bred Queenslander, the state’s narrow 3ft 6in gauge had always embarrassed her.

“I appreciate our colonial leaders picked that gauge as it would mean less milage of track would be needed to service our enormous state but you do blush whenever you return from southern states and our CityRail network reminds you of the track that the puffing-billy used at the Ekka for many years.”

Ms Palaszczuk revealed that there was a far more crucial economic factor behind the decision to standardise the network.

“No city in the worl has ever held the Olympics with a piddling narrow-gauge system like ours.

“It’s a fact we concealed from the International Olympic Committee when making our bid for the 2032 Brisbane Games.

“If the IOC ever found out about that, we will probably be stripped of the hosting rights.”

The premier added that despite the alleged hostilty between Queensland and New South Wales on so many issues, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had offered a large amount of rolling stock for the rail upgrade (pictured at right).

“This kind offer has reduced considerably the overall cost of this giant project.”

HISTORICAL NOTE: When Queensland’s 3ft 6in. railway network began rolling out in the late 1880s, the standard-gauge locomotives and rolling stock imported from Great Britain by colonial rulers proved an absolute disaster (above).