Construction is complete on the first of 200 rail replacement buses being delivered through the Queensland Government’s over $130 million investment in public transport and local manufacturing. 

The Euro 6 diesel bus on a Volvo chassis has been built by local workers at Volgren’s world-class Eagle Farm manufacturing facility. 

The 43-seat bus will now enter service during track closures, helping to reduce impacts on commuters while critical works are undertaken on the South East Queensland (SEQ) train network.

The Queensland Government is the proud owner of the new rail replacement bus under an arrangement where it will be deployed by the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) across SEQ during track closures. 

Volgren will produce 165 rail replacement buses in total for the Queensland Government with a new bus being delivered at a rate of around one every day when production reaches full steam. Meanwhile, Scania is building 35 Euro 6 diesel buses with BusTech bodies at its manufacturing facility at Rocklea.

All 200 will be built in Queensland and delivered by the end of 2024 with the investment supporting local manufacturing jobs, skills, and training.

Nearly 50 new local jobs have been created at Volgren as a direct result of the rail replacement bus program, which represents a 70 per cent increase in the company’s workforce in Queensland.

The buses have been designed to be fully accessible, to ensure everyone has access to public transport, including people in a wheelchair and people travelling with luggage or prams.

The Euro 6 diesel bus is also the lowest emissions diesel bus available to be made in Queensland in mass production at this time.

The rail replacement bus program is intended to help sustain the local manufacturing industry while the Queensland Government continues its transition to a zero-emission fleet.

The State Government recently announced its plan for hundreds of zero emission buses to be built locally, supported by new zero-emission depots across SEQ.

The government said that it is committed to all new Translink-contracted buses in SEQ procured from 2025 being a zero-emission vehicle.

Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Bart Mellish, said that it’s a big milestone to see the new vehicles built in Queensland hitting the road. 

“We’re backing building buses in this state because it’s a win for local workers, a win for the manufacturing sector, and a win for commuters as well,” Mr Mellish said. 

“Our pipeline of rail infrastructure includes major projects such as Cross River Rail, Logan and Gold Coast Faster Rail and Direct Sunshine Coast Rail.

“Our rail revolution will transform the way we travel throughout SEQ and beyond.

“These buses will play a vital role keeping Queenslanders moving while our Big Build continues and these transformational projects come online.

“When critical track works are required to integrate these projects into the existing train network, that’s when our fleet of rail replacement buses mobilises to keep communities connected.” 

Volgren CEO, Thiago Deiro, said that Volgren is thrilled to celebrate the delivery of the first of its 165 rail replacement buses to the Queensland Government.

“For the last 15 years, Volgren has made significant investments in its Eagle Farm facility, transforming it into a unique Australian facility that builds buses in Queensland, made by Queenslanders,” Mr Deiro said. 

“Since Volgren’s been awarded the Rail Replacement contract, we’ve expanded our capacity and increased our headcount by 70 per cent.

“The Rail Replacement project highlights the importance of sustaining manufacturing in Queensland and the crucial role of consistent bus programs in supporting local industries.

“We commend the Queensland Government, especially Minister Bart Mellish and the Department of Transport and Main Roads, for their support and investment in locally built products.” 

Mr Deiro said that companies need visibility and consistency of orders to invest and grow.

“This project has enabled us to invest in our local facility and double our production capacity in record time.

“As we meet the challenging delivery schedule, our facility stands as a testament to pride, filled with new buses ready to serve the community.

“Volgren is honoured to be part of this amazing project and we are looking forward to leading the transition for Zero Emission Buses to be built here in Queensland when the time comes.”

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) State Secretary of Queensland and Northern Territory, Rohan Webb, said that for years, the AMWU has fought to bring manufacturing back to Queensland.

“We started with trains in Maryborough, and now we’re seeing buses built in the South-East,” Mr Webb said. 

“This isn’t just about jobs; it’s about keeping work steady and local, making sure Queenslanders and their families have got job security and more work on the horizon.

“It’s a solid nod from the State Government that they’ve got the backs of the workers here in Queensland.

“These buses are about to roll out and have been built in Queensland, by Queenslanders, for Queenslanders. This is what happens when we stick to building things right here at home – good for our workers, good for our communities, and damn good for Queensland.”

Featured image: A rail replacement bus at the manufacturing facility. Image credit: Queensland Government.

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