Cross-River Rail: just build it

The Cross River Rail business case released by the Queensland Government “demonstrates it will create jobs, bust congestion and be the catalyst for a world-class turn up and go public transport system”.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure Jackie Trad said the Cross River Rail Business Case 2017 details the challenges and opportunities facing South East Queensland’s (SEQ) rail network.

“[We] have fully funded Cross River Rail and we are getting on with the job of building it,” Ms Trad said.

“The business case demonstrates what we have already known for a decade – we need another rail crossing to increase rail services in the South East and the solution is Cross River Rail.

“Our rail network has a key choke point at its core preventing extra train services being brought into regions like the Gold Coast, Logan, Caboolture and the Redlands.

“Nearly 2 million people will move into SEQ over the next two decades and with some lines, like the Gold Coast, already operating at 100 per cent capacity during peak periods, we need to build Cross River Rail before we reach a crisis point.

“It will unlock smarter integration of rail and bus networks, providing quick turn up and go services and positioning SEQ for a more sustainable and competitive future

“The business case specifically states the full benefits of both Cross River Rail and the Brisbane Metro can only be completely realised once both projects are constructed and are operational.

Ms Trad said the business case incorporated the latest information on the impact of policy and demographic changes over the last 12 months.

“The BCR for the project is now 1.41, up from 1.21 in the 2016 Business Case. This means that for every $1 invested in the Cross River Rail project, $1.41 is returned to the people of Queensland,” Ms Trad said.

CRR business case key findings include:

  • For every $1 invested in the project, it returns $1.41 to the people of Queensland.
  • The project will generate an average of 1,500 jobs each year over the construction period, with a peak of 3,000 in the most intensive year.
  • CRR will provide capacity for ‘turn-up-and-go’ services.
  • CRR will help reduce pressure on the region’s roads, freeing them up for commercial vehicles and commuter buses.
  • It will enable greater integration of bus and rail services, which will help to maximise the state government’s rail network investments and Brisbane City Council’s investment in Brisbane Metro and improved bus services.
  • Total daily public transport trips (bus & rail) will climb from around 510,000 to more than 880,000 in 2026 and to more than 1.1 million by 2036.

Now get on and build it

The detailed business case for the Cross River Rail is a welcome step towards the government improving transparency about infrastructure decisions, said the Infrastructure Association of Queensland (IAQ).

Bolstered by expert peer reviews, the latest business case addresses some of the key concerns raised by Infrastructure Australia in their recent project evaluation, including rail patronage forecasts and road user benefits.

“Brisbane has a looming capacity problem and Cross River Rail is the smart solution,” said IAQ CEO Steve Abson.

To satisfy demands from the Turnbull Government, the business case also reveals possible approaches towards sharing value created by the project.

“Because the project includes significant urban renewal and opportunity for major development at station precincts, value capture might create up to 10% of the funds needed for it.”

“Most Queenslanders know that some developers and business often receive windfall gains and privately benefit from government infrastructure investment and planning decisions. Capturing and sharing these gains is not easy, but as long as the beneficiaries are fairly identified it can be a pretty reasonable approach,” said Mr Abson.

Set to be commissioned in 2023, Cross River Rail is a long-running project that will run across at least two state elections. The IAQ warns of dire consequence should any new government decide to hold off investment.

“Both Queenslanders and industry are pretty sick and tired of seeing critical infrastructure used as a political football. Not once in the last eight years have we seen all sides lining up behind our greatest infrastructure project and it’s been through at least three different incarnations to get to an optimum solution,” said Mr Abson.

“With funding secured and early works now set to commence before Christmas, the last thing we need is risk of taxpayer-funded cheques written to rip up contracts already placed with local businesses,” he added.

The Cross River Rail Delivery Authority will conduct an industry briefing next Wednesday 30/07 where it will outline the procurement approach, details of major work packages, delivery strategy, commercial considerations and governance. It will be held at the Pullman Hotel, King George Square, Brisbane from 2:00pm, Wednesday 30 August 2017. Click here to register.

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