A public meeting at Kandanga yesterday heard that the Valley Rattler is in dire financial straits.
A public meeting at Kandanga yesterday heard that the Valley Rattler is in dire financial straits. Arthur Gorrie

Mary Valley Rattler wants Clive Palmer's help

IF YOU are mining and tourism billionaire Clive Palmer and you are reading this, the Mary Valley Heritage Rail would love to hear from you.

Rattler manager Jim Walker admitted yesterday that the tourist train service, a major lifeline for the economy of the Mary Valley, had attempted to contact Mr Palmer, but had not heard back.

He told a public meeting at Kandanga yesterday that the tourist rail service is in trouble and needs urgent help.

One speaker suggested that Mr Palmer might be interested in helping if the Rattler could produce a convincing business plan offering a return on much needed funds.

Rattler officials have said the service needed $100,000 immediately and more like $1 million in the longer term, as it faced up to its traditionally lean time of year.

With the service out of action for much of its big earning seasons over the past two years, some speakers expressed doubt that it would last until Christmas.

The Rattler is well known for its historic steam train rides to Imbil, as well as shorter tours on its Red Rocket diesel railmotor and diesel-electric Silver Bullet.

One person at yesterday's meeting said the Valley's station maintenance costs, for which community groups were responsible, would quickly break the organisations involved if suspended Rattler services meant their markets had no customers.

Mary Valley interests also expressed fears that the Rattler may only be able to survive by shifting its tourist run to Theebine, meaning it could run on Queensland Rail infrastructure.

"If it runs to Theebine and it works, with no track problems, why would it ever come back?" one attendee asked.

Mr Walker said the meeting had moved to establish of a liaison committee from Valley interests to work with the Rattler, as well as including Valley business interests in the Rattler's business development process.