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12 June, 2020

Railways reopen

Local train services are set to resume across the Far North and Tablelands.

By Phil Brandel

Local train services are set to resume across the Far North and Tablelands.

The Kuranda Scenic Railway (KSR) and the Historic Savannahlander will start running this week for the first time since the COVID-19 lockdown.

The KSR operating Today (June 13) and tomorrow (June 14) and will also run again Saturday and Sunday, June 20 and 21 with only one service per day.

On Saturday, June 27 the Kuranda Scenic Railway will return to its normal timetable of two return services each day.

Queensland Rail (QR) Executive General Manager Travel & Tourism, Martin Ryan said: “With travel restrictions being lifted across Queensland, we are looking forward to welcoming customers back on board the iconic Kuranda Scenic Railway.”

Mr Ryan said to celebrate the return of travel and tourism services QR have are having a sale on train fares in Queensland “We’ve launched The Queensland Escape sale, which includes 50 per cent off fares on the Kuranda Scenic Railway from June 13 until July 12.”

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said Queensland Rail was reinstating reduced and suspended travel and tourism services gradually from June 13, with most services fully restored ahead of the school holidays.

“If you’ve ever wanted to head out to explore the tropics on the iconic Kuranda Scenic Railway, now’s your chance – and right in time for the school holidays.” Mr Bailey said.

Darryl Kasch who has a Reflexology stall at the Kuranda Rainforest markets says the train will make a big difference to the village. “it will be great to start seeing some visitors back in town. It’s great news and hopefully, it will bring Cairns people up here.” He said

“We need it, its been pretty much deserted for the past couple of months. We get a few people up from Cairns, but if it’s raining they don’t want to drive the range, so the resumption of the train is good news.”

Mr Kasch says that A few stallholders have left the area since the COVID closures.

“Only about 6-8 stallholders have been opening of late, out of a possible 30 stalls. But they are all coming back slowly, if they opened the borders it would make a big difference to all of us”

The Historic Savannahlander Motorail is also set to roll again. Last week it completed a test run to make sure all equipment was in good working order and to test the new COVID safe operations.

Robert Rutten the Business Develop Manager for the Savannahlander said they are glad to be back on the rails.

“We always had a plan to start easing back into operations in June but with the lifting of restrictions early we were able to accelerate that a little. “he said

“This Wednesday, June 17 we will be taking our first trip of fee-paying passengers since the COVID shutdown.”

Due to social distancing, the carriages will be reconfigured to adhere to social distancing rules, although families and couples will still be able to sit together. This means that the carrying capacity on the Savannahlander will be cut by about 50 per cent.

“We are distancing passengers as part of our COVID plans from the Chief Medical Officer.” Mr Rutten said

“Since we reopened our booking office, we have been inundated with enquires.

“This is a great opportunity for locals to get out and about before the crowds discover the amazing Savannah country.  We are quite flexible in our travel arrangements – so as a local if you would like to meet the train and travel for part of the journey or make it part of your own outback holiday please get in touch with us.”

The Savanahlander (pictured above) departs Cairns every Wednesday morning and heads up the Kuranda Range, overnighting in Almaden via Mareeba. It also travels to Forsayth, Einasleigh and Mt Surprise before returning to Cairns on Saturday.

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