Breakdown means fans will miss out on Steamfest celebration
AN EVENT marking the first Queensland railway trip from Ipswich to Grandchester will be missing a key element - an opportunity for the average Joe to enjoy a railway trip from Ipswich to Grandchester.
Known as Steamfest, the celebration of the 150th anniversary of that first journey from Ipswich to Bigges Camp was originally planned to include three steam locomotives.
One of those locos, an A10, will actually re-enact the original trip from Ipswich, but will be carrying two carriages full of dignitaries and descendants of important figures in the state's rail history.
The other two would have carried members of the public from Ipswich and Brisbane to the event at Grandchester.
Unfortunately for organisers of the event, the legendary loco Betty has run out of steam, leaving only one remaining loco available for the public.
Additional carriages have been added to the loco leaving Brisbane, but Grandchester Community Steamfest organiser Bruce Wallace said many people were still missing out on tickets to the July 26 event.
"We've known about this for 150 years," Mr Wallace said.
"Joe Public in Ipswich is really hard pressed to get on a train. I've fielded a lot of calls and I get quite embarrassed and have to tell them, no."
Queensland Rail has been unable to fix the broken train in time and cannot find a replacement.
Mr Wallace and Lockyer MP Ian Rickuss have approached QR to provide a replacement diesel loco, but the rail authority is unable to come to the party.
While there is a diesel loco, there are apparently no passenger carriages around to hook up to it.
A spokeswoman confirmed that four extra carriages had been added to the Brisbane steam train but two of those additional carriages will be filled with Workshops Rail Museum delegates.
Queensland Rail was not responsible for the sale of tickets to the event - it only supplied the trains and organised the A10 as a private event separate to Steamfest.
"As part of this celebration, the Australian Railway Historical Society (ARHS) has chartered Queensland Rail's only available steam train to transport people to the event," QR said in a statement.
"Queensland Rail has provided additional carriages for this steam train, which provides the same capacity as the original two planned charter services."
Mr Wallace said all 407 seats on the train were sold out.
"The average person who wanted to travel by train from Ipswich to Grandchester now can't unless they got in very early when the extra carriages were added," Mr Wallace said
"People seem to have lost sight of the point that the first railway line was between Ipswich and Grandchester."
Mr Rickuss went so far as to promise to buy 20 tickets if another train could be found.
"Ipswich used to employ 4000 people who worked at the workshops and virtually none of them are going to be able to travel by train to Grandchester," Mr Rickuss said.
"They've said the train they were going to use broke down but we've had bloody arguments with them right from day one about this. I cannot believe that Queensland Rail is that arrogant or uncaring that the thousands of workers who worked for Queensland Rail and love the rail are virtually being ignored."