Good article by the opposition leader highlighting the rail car mess caused by the former liberal government in Queensland and also the work Maryborough workshops do so well.
Why did Queensland need to go off shore?
National rail plan would get regional jobs back on a growth track
The situation is quite complicated, partly due to politics, but mostly due to Australia's economic position at the time of the tendering process. It was the Labor Bligh Government that began the expressions of interest process for Queensland's Next Generation Rollingstock (NGR) project in December 2008. During the process, with two different ALP Transport Ministers, both of whom had seats in the Ipswich region, it was identified by the Bligh Government that a combined assembly and maintenance plant should be built in the Ipswich region.
By this time Downer was under severe financial pressure from losing $400-million on a NSW public-private partnership, rollingstock assembly costs had risen sharply due to staff shortages caused by the post-GFC China Boom and the Australian dollar was variously at or above parity with the US dollar impacting international competitiveness. The added burden of having to build a second assembly/maintenance plant in Ipswich, rather than use the existing Maryborough plant was simply a step too far, and in 2010 Downer withdrew from the project, leaving longterm partner, Bombardier without any existing Queensland assembly plant.
By December 2011 two builders had been shortlisted. At the time the Australian Dollar was still above parity and a change to the LNP Newman Government in March 2012 resulted in a second round of expressions of interests in March 2013. Seeking to cut costs and spending, the Newman Government removed the "local build" caveat from the project at this stage and placed Queensland Transport in charge of design and procurement rather than QR. Bombardier eventually won the tender in January 2014, with an Indian-built alternative that was allegedly half the price of a local build - savings of $825-million for the build were reported. While the build was undertaken, it was later found in the subsequent inquiry that the Queensland Transport NGR team made no attempt to consult with disability groups or QR regarding the disability compliance of the new trains, which to date has been the prime failure of the NGR project, with remediation by Downer, in Maryborough, expected to cost at least $350-million.
Bombardier's new $190-million maintenance plant for the 75 NGRs was built in the western Ipswich suburb of Wulkuraka during 2015. The LNP Newman Government lost power in February 2015 to the ALP Palaszczuk Government, the first of the trains arriving in February 2016. The first revenue services operated in December 2017, almost two years after deliveries began.