Sunlander rail journey to end next year

THEY say nothing lasts forever and for the world-renowned Sunlander rail journey, that is now true.

The Sunlander's 1700-km journey down the east coast of Queensland will end next year, opening the tracks to a new modernised fleet.

The Cairns-to-Brisbane iconic rail journey will be renamed the Spirit of Queensland, Transport Minister Scott Emerson will announce on Thursday8/8, and be home to three new tilt trains.

The trains - one new, two refurbished - will start journeys in late 2014.

Mr Emerson said the new fleet was part of a $200 million boost in long distance travel.

"The Spirit of Queensland fleet will include state-of-the-art rail-bed seating and entertainment, along with a high speed, smooth and comfortable ride," he said.

The Sunlander, voted in the world's top 25 rail journeys by the Society of International Railway Travellers, marked its 60th anniversary this year and, ironically, the end of its era.

Whitsundays MP Jason Costigan, who will launch the re-branding alongside Mr Emerson, remembered using the rail journey pre-political life.

"I remember travelling on the Sunlander to Brisbane as a boy and when I started my career in Bowen in 1989, I would travel back and forth on the Sunlander," he said.

"It will be sad to see the Sunlander reach retirement age next year but it's fantastic to see the modern fleet taking shape.

"I'm excited about what these new services can do for tourism in the Whitsundays and other parts of regional Queensland."

Rail-travelling hopefuls also have a chance to win a holiday on the new Spirit of Queensland through a video-creating competition.

A video booth will be set up at the Queensland Rail Ekka pavilion - and in major regional centres - for contestants to capture what the Spirit of Queensland means.



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