SO SUCCESSFUL have Queensland Railways’ 1067mm gauge tilting trains been that airlines flying betwen Brisbane and Rockhampton have found they have a strong competitor. Queensland Transport Minister Steve Bredhauer said last month that rail patronage on the 639 km route had risen by 66% since the trains were introduced in November 1998, with 790000 passengers carried to date. On weekdays QR has added an equally popular short working from Bundaberg.

The six-car trains (above right) operate at 25 kV 50Hz up to 160 km/h, and their popularity has lifted expectations for the two diesel-powered tilt sets under construction (right) for the 1680 km Brisbane - Cairns route. These are being built under an alliance between QR and EDI Rail (RG 5.00 p317), and will cut the current journey times between the two cities by more than 4h to under 27h from 2003. Car bodies will tilt up to 5° and maximum speed will also be 160 km/h.

Each nine-car set has two power cars with fuel tanks large enough to limit refuelling to once per trip. Two 12-cylinder diesel engines in each power car will each develop 1350 kW, driving through hydrodynamic transmissions with axle drive gearboxes. It will be possible to add up to five extra trailers in the future.