Fabrication, Manufacturing, Manufacturing News, Queensland

Queensland government to manufacture 200 buses locally

The Queensland Government’s commitment to build 200 rail replacement buses locally has hit another milestone with the preferred manufacturers announced.

Scania Australia Pty Ltd and Volvo Group Australia Pty Ltd have both been appointed as preferred builders of the 200 new buses after a rigorous independent procurement process.

The initial $133.8 million investment will ensure the buses are built in Queensland, supporting local manufacturing jobs, skills, and training.

The first bus is expected to be delivered in March 2024 with the full delivery of the 200 buses by the end of 2024.

The buses will be used to ensure SEQ public transport users can travel across the network during track closures on the train network.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk spoke about the milestone.

“We are a government that backs Queensland manufacturers and today’s announcement is more evidence of that,” she said.

“This is an investment in Queenslanders and the future of our skilled manufacturing sector.

“We know that when we build here in Queensland, we are supporting local workers, local suppliers and the next generation of skilled bus builders.

“Whether it’s trains, or buses, Queensland is the place to build and invest.  I look forward to seeing these new vehicles out on the road,” Palaszczuk said.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) currently works with its contracted bus operators to source rail replacement buses during track closures. The new arrangement will mean TMR owns the buses and can deploy them more flexibly across SEQ during track closures on the train network.

With rolling track closures in 2024 to undertake critical works for Cross River Rail these buses will make sure that commuter impacts are minimised.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey explained why these buses would be a priority for the Queensland Government.

“The big winners here are our local manufacturers and local workers who will build buses in Queensland, for Queenslanders, which will ultimately benefit our public transport users,” Bailey said.

“Queensland’s diverse economy is something we are proud of and investments like this into local jobs and transport infrastructure can only mean one thing – a better connected and mobile population.

“These buses will play an important role in keeping South East Queenslanders moving during the next few years while major projects such as Cross River Rail and Logan and Gold Coast Faster Rail are integrated into the existing train network.

“Forward planning and anticipating the needs of our travelling public with minimal disruption is at the heart of this huge and significant undertaking by the Queensland Government.

“With the procurement process over, it is now time to get on with the job and deliver for Queensland.”

The buses will be built with all Queenslanders and visitors to the state in mind, ensuring everyone has access to public transport, including people in a wheelchair, and people travelling with luggage or prams.

Volgren CEO, Thiago Deiro explained the importance of this announcement and what the buses could look like.

“This project is a game-changer for Volgren’s Eagle Farm production facility. It will support hundreds of current and new jobs in Brisbane and create and retain essential skills for the upcoming Zero Emission Bus transition from 2025. Volgren is pleased to have been trusted with such an amazing project,” he said.

“After facing challenging years, during and post-COVID, long-term projects with visibility will allow the industry to invest in local jobs, training, and providing opportunities for the communities.

“Besides being locally manufactured in Brisbane, Volgren buses are predominantly made using locally supplied parts and components, creating a circular economy, benefiting the local supply chain, and creating amazing job opportunities for the communities where we are involved.”

“We express our gratitude to the Palaszczuk Government, including Transport Minister Mark Bailey and the Department of Transport and Main Roads, for their unwavering support.

“This project is critical and vital for local businesses to remain viable and investing in the state. It represents a significant stride towards Queensland’s sustainable transportation future, fostering economic growth, job creation, and skills development within the region. Volgren looks forward to the successful delivery of this project and the continued collaboration with the Queensland government to enhance the state’s public transportation network,” Deiro said.

TMR is currently prioritising the delivery of infrastructure to support charging capabilities for zero-emission buses at depots across SEQ and remains committed to all new Translink-contracted buses in SEQ being a zero-emission vehicle from 2025.

Once the supporting infrastructure is completed at depots within SEQ the contract allows flexibility to turn to procuring electric buses under this contract.

Rohan Webb, State Secretary of the Queensland and Northern Territory Branch of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) explained the importance of this manufacturing announcement.

“From trains to buses, the AMWU has campaigned for many years to not only bring manufacturing back home but to also secure a pipeline of work, ensuring good, local jobs for many years to come,” he said.

“Australian manufacturing workers are some of the best in the world. This announcement is a huge vote of confidence in our local vehicle manufacturing sector and a testament to the Palaszczuk Government’s dedication to harnessing the expertise of Australian manufacturing workers.

“This step will not only support approximately 1000 jobs across the vehicle build and the supply chain, but will also enhance our sovereign capability, ensuring that Queenslanders have access to top-quality buses build in Queensland by Queenslanders for Queenslanders.”

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