Built in India, fixed in Queensland - for $100m
TRAINS will continue to be built in India with a major design flaw that will later force them to be ripped apart and fixed in Queensland at a cost to taxpayers of $100 million.
The Sunday Mail can reveal 37 trains that are yet to enter production under the State Government's $4.4 billion New Generation Rollingstock project will still be built with problem toilet cubicles.
In what is mounting as a farcical situation for the heavily delayed train building contract with Canadian manufacturer Bombardier, southeast Queensland public transport company TransLink has confirmed all 75 trains under the contract will be built in India and shipped to the state with the identified design flaw.
The faulty trains will then be split into individual cars and driven by truck to Maryborough, where the toilets will be modified to meet disability access standards.
It comes after a $100 million deal with local manufacturer Downer EDI to fix the trains was announced by the Labor Government two weeks before the 2017 state election.
The money, which included an extra $50 million to fit CCTV screens in the trains for guards, would come from a project contingency fund.
The patch-up funding was trumpeted as a boon for local jobs in the must-win seat of Maryborough, which Labor MP Bruce Saunders was battling to retain, but it was never
revealed until now that faulty trains would continue to be built under the plan.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey's office yesterday defended the decision to keep building the trains under the original flawed design, arguing it would work out cheaper.
"It is appropriate to continue building the remaining NGR trains under the existing contract arrangements and then modify them in Queensland, as it more cost-effective and efficient," a spokesman for Mr Bailey said.
"It is also vital for the construction of the NGR trains to continue to ensure the ongoing new supply of trains to SEQ customers and to replace an aging Queensland Rail fleet, while the retrofit is carried out.
"We make no apologies for bringing this work back to Queenslanders and to Maryborough - a city with a proud rail history."
The Sunday Mail has previously revealed that the Government would face million-dollar liquidated damages costs if it were held to blame for holding-up production.
While the train design was approved by the previous LNP administration, the disability sector first alerted the Labor Government to the problems in January 2016.
Disability advocate Geoff Trappett said that was when the sector saw a mock-up of the trains and the Government was warned the toilets were non-compliant, but it pushed ahead with work.
"People with a disability are disappointed non-compliant trains continue to be built," he said.
"The disability sector is fully in support of an inquiry into how a tender can go so wrong."
Opposition transport spokesman Steve Minnikin criticised the Government for not acting earlier.
"The Government has now been in charge of this contract for three years," he said.
"They have been warned over and over again about the design issues and have done nothing until the 11th hour.
"Why on Earth didn't Labor change the design in the factory the trains are built in?"
"Let's get this right from the get go instead of fiddling around and making modifications on the fly."
Bombardier refused to comment.