By Viktor Berg
USC students are welcoming the proposal for the North Coast project as their travel time can be cut in half.
An improved railway between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane is well in line with the University of the Sunshine Coast’s vision and for students, a long-awaited convenience.
Currently, there are many ways to get around the Coast, but using either car, bus or train can be unreliable and time-consuming.
Students travelling from Brisbane to the University of the Sunshine Coast could have their journey time axed should the railway improvement go ahead.
This comes as the Queensland Government released plans for a new ‘fast rail’ project, which will run from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast and reduce travel time from two hours to 45 minutes.
It includes line upgrades between Brisbane and Beerburrum, Beerburrum and Nambour, as well as a new service from Beerwah to Maroochydore with new stations being added.
USC Spokesman Terry Walsh says it would be an improvement to also benefit USC and its students.
“USC has long encouraged staff and students to, where possible, use public transport, and we’d support any move to improve the public transport system,” he says.
“[The train will] be a convenience, I suppose, for the students.”
Heavy traffic is a nuisance that could also be an issue of the past once the train gets rolling.
The North Coast project will give students the option to avoid the problematic Bruce Highway between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, notorious for its fatalities and delays.
This year has already seen 11 fatal casualties on south eastern Queensland’s roads alone.
As a large portion of vehicles travelling along that stretch of the highway consist of students attending USC, the proposal of the new rail lines has been welcomed with open arms.
USC student and Brisbane resident Rohana Burton said she would “love” a 45-minute journey, as the existing train and bus lines are too unreliable.
“If there is ever an accident on the highway, I end up missing classes,” she says.
“If I want to get home after 6pm, I have to wait until the 7.28pm bus which gets me home at 9.50pm, the buses and trains don’t match up.
“I don’t own a car or have a licence [and] living in Brisbane I have no reliable transport.”
Ms Burton is one of the 23.6 per cent of USC students within Queensland that live outside of the Sunshine Coast who could benefit from improved public transport.
Mr Walsh says the new rail connections will increase accessibility and further enable the university’s expansion, as enrolment numbers increase every year.
“The university opened a campus in Caboolture this year, and we’ll be opening another one in Petrie in 2020,” he says.
“A better transport system would enable students from down there to travel up here for some courses, and vice versa.
“Especially those who live in Moreton Bay who consider doing some subjects up here as well as the bulk of their degree is down there.”
As the university continues to grow, never-ending issues such as parking could also receive a welcomed ease of pressure.
Another USC Student, Tash Cole from Burpengary, is currently using her car to get to the university and says the parking situation is why she would appreciate the express train.
“I would absolutely catch the train,” she says.
“Parking is horrendous – I’ve had days when it’s taken me well over an hour to find a parking spot.”
USC students do have a shuttle service available to them, running between various locations on the Coast, such as Caboolture and the Sippy Downs campus.
“I would prefer to take the shuttle bus but the frequency of them just isn’t often enough,” she says.
Mr Walsh says he also believes the train would help cure the parking epidemic at the Sippy Downs campus.
“The key thing is that it makes it easier for people to get to the university without having to drive in a single occupant vehicle,” he says.
“In terms of parking and the likes, it solves a few problems if people can travel on public transport.”
If the North Coast project receives the ultimate green light, it will still take years before it is implemented and until then, students and other travellers alike will have to make do with current means of transport.
North Coast Connect
- $20 million has been allocated towards the project.The business case is expected to be delivered in the next 12-18 months.
- Project is expected to be completed within 10 years.
- 45-minute travel time from Brisbane to Nambour and Maroochydore.
- Increase train speeds to 160km/hr.
- New stations between Beerwah and Maroochydore.