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27 February, 2021

QR reduces Kuranda rail services.

Residents and business owners in the rainforest village of Kuranda feel like they may be suffering a death by a thousand cuts after Queensland Rail announced that it would be reducing the Kuranda Scenic Railway (KSR) down to one trip per day.

By Phil Brandel

Kuranda Scenic Rail will now only be travelling to Kuranda once a day.

Residents and business owners in the rainforest village of Kuranda feel like they may be suffering a death by a thousand cuts after Queensland Rail announced that it would be reducing the Kuranda Scenic Railway (KSR) down to one trip per day.

The news comes after Skyrail announced that from February they would only be operating on weekends until the April School Holidays.

The train will now leave Cairns at 9.30am, arriving at 11.25am and leave Kuranda for the return trip at 3.30pm.

President of the Kuranda Traders Association Dei Gould said even though the news came as a shock she was not surprised.

“The other day we only had nine people on the train, so financially it doesn’t make sense to run two trains,” she said.

“We will still have the same number of visitors coming up on the train, it just means that they will all leave and arrive around the same time.”

Dei said The Kuranda Traders Association, nor any local business were notified ahead of the decision.

“I found out from friends, nobody in the association was officially notified by Queensland Rail,” she said.

“This time of year, is normally quiet for us, but with the border closures and no international travellers this year is especially quiet.”

Group Director of Marketing for the Kuranda Koala Gardens and Birdworld Angela Freeman said that the news came as a surprise.

“We only knew because people started phoning us, we had no official notice from Queensland Rail,” she said.

“They train gets in at 11.30 leaves at 3.30 so visitors only have 4 hours in Kuranda.

“Visitors will arrive and have lunch, walk and a look around and then they will have to go home.

Ms Freeman said that the decision means they now have a reduced opportunity to get visitors at a time when visitors numbers are already limited.

“We have to accept that they need to do this maintenance now and thankfully not later when we are back to capacity,” she said.

“We will just have to market to the self-drive market and hope that we can fill up that one train so that it’s viable.”

Queensland Rail Head of Regional Jim Benstead said the locomotives undergo regular maintenance, however recent inspections identified additional work was required on some of the locomotives.

“The Kuranda Scenic Railway (KSR) will temporarily reduce from two to one daily return services from today, allowing for major locomotive maintenance to ensure ongoing safety and reliability,” he said.

“Customer safety and the reliability of our fleet are the highest priority, which is why we are undertaking some additional maintenance works on KSR locomotives.

“This means from today (23 February 2021), Queensland Rail will temporarily operate just one daily return service – the 9.30am Cairns to Kuranda service and its return service at 3.30pm.

“Due to lower than usual patronage at the moment as a result of COVID-19, as well as the recent increase in accepted capacity onboard each service, we expect to still meet our usual weekday demand with this one return service per day.”

Mr Benstead apologised for the short notice regarding the change.

“The change was communicated as soon as possible after the decision was made, with direct trade operators who hold KSR ticket allocations notified on Monday and broader stakeholders notified on Tuesday,” he said.

“While we recognise that this is a sudden change, we have put safety first and are addressing the identified maintenance requirement in a timely manner. 

“Current customer demand is still low in the wake of COVID-19, so with the temporary reduction to one daily return service, KSR still has the capacity to meet current ticket sales.

“From Saturday, the current onboard capacity limit of 50 per cent will be lifted to 100 per cent.
“We will continue to work with industry partners to provide the great customer experience that Kuranda has on offer.”
“Queensland Rail expects to return to the full KSR schedule in April 2021.”



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