Monday, May 20, 2024

First locally-made rail replacement bus rolls out

The first of 200 rail replacement buses has rolled off the production line as part of the Queensland Government’s more than $130 million investment to support public transport and local manufacturing.

The Euro 6 diesel bus (pictured) on a Volvo chassis has been built by local workers at Volgren’s world-class Eagle Farm manufacturing facility.

The 43-seat bus will now enter service during track closures, helping to reduce impacts on commuters while critical works are undertaken on the South East Queensland (SEQ) train network.

The State Government is the proud owner of the new rail replacement bus under an arrangement where it will be deployed by the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) across SEQ during track closures.

“It’s a big milestone to see the new vehicles built here in Queensland hitting the road,” said Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Bart Mellish.

“We’re backing building buses in this state because it’s a win for local workers, a win for the manufacturing sector, and a win for commuters as well.

“Our pipeline of rail infrastructure includes major projects such as Cross River Rail, Logan and Gold Coast Faster Rail and Direct Sunshine Coast Rail.

“Our rail revolution will transform the way we travel throughout SEQ and beyond.

“These buses will play a vital role keeping Queenslanders moving while our Big Build continues and these transformational projects come online,” said the Minister.

Volgren will produce 165 rail replacement buses in total for the Queensland Government with a new bus being delivered at a rate of around one every day when production reaches full steam. Meanwhile, Scania is building 35 Euro 6 diesel buses with BusTech bodies at its manufacturing facility at Rocklea.

All 200 will be built in Queensland and delivered by the end of 2024.

Nearly 50 new local jobs have been created at Volgren as a direct result of the of the rail replacement bus program, which represents a 70% increase in the company’s workforce in Queensland.

The buses have been designed to be fully accessible, to ensure everyone has access to public transport, including people in a wheelchair, and people travelling with luggage or prams.

“Volgren is thrilled to celebrate the delivery of the first of our 165 rail replacement buses to the Queensland Government,” said Volgren CEO, Thiago Deiro.

“For the last 15 years, Volgren has made significant investments in its Eagle Farm facility, transforming it into a unique Australian facility that builds buses in Queensland, made by Queenslanders. Since Volgren’s been awarded the Rail Replacement contract, we’ve expanded our capacity and increased our headcount by 70%.

“The Rail Replacement project highlights the importance of sustaining manufacturing in Queensland and the crucial role of consistent bus programs in supporting local industries.

“We commend the Queensland Government, especially Minister Bart Mellish and the Department of Transport and Main Roads, for their support and investment in locally built products.

The Euro 6 diesel bus is also the lowest emissions diesel bus available to be made in Queensland in mass production at this time.

The Queensland Government recently announced its plan for hundreds of zero emission buses to be built locally, supported by new zero-emission depots across SEQ.

The Queensland and Northern Territory Branch of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has welcomed the manufacturing program.

“For years, the AMWU has fought to bring manufacturing back here to Queensland,” said AMWU State Secretary, Rohan Webb.

“We started with trains in Maryborough, and now we’re seeing buses built in the South-East.

“This isn’t just about jobs; it’s about keeping work steady and local, making sure Queenslanders and their families have got job security and more work on the horizon.

“It’s a solid nod from the Miles Government that they’ve got the backs of the workers here in Queensland.

“These buses are about to roll out and have been built in Queensland, by Queenslanders, for Queenslanders. This is what happens when we stick to building things right here at home – good for our workers, good for our communities, and damn good for Queensland.”

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