THE Queensland Government last week announced plans to establish an authority to deliver Cross River Rail and unveiled the new 10.2-kilometre alignment.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the State Government is continuing to drive the delivery of Cross River Rail and build the much-needed inner-city rail link from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills.
At both a State and Federal level, Cross River Rail has been identified as a critical infrastructure project required to address capacity constraints in the city's rail network and avoid increased congestion and reduced productivity in the South East Queensland economy.
"Cross River Rail is not only a critical infrastructure project but also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape Brisbane through this major city-making initiative," Ms Trad said.
"With South East Queensland's population set to grow to 4.9 million by 2036, Cross River Rail is the state's number one infrastructure project to boost network capacity in the region and unlock economic opportunity and productivity for our state.
"Almost half the state's total jobs growth will occur in Brisbane and without an effective transport system to accommodate growth, Infrastructure Australia estimate the cost of congestion in the region could total $9 billion each year.
"Once operational, Cross River Rail will provide the equivalent capacity of a 30-lane highway and will provide faster and more effective connections to jobs throughout the region.
"The Palaszczuk Government has also agreed to establish a Cross River Rail Delivery Authority to take the politics out of delivering this critical infrastructure project.
"As our Government has said publicly many times, major infrastructure projects of this scale require cooperation, support and funding from all three levels of government.
"That's why we have asked the Federal Government and Brisbane City Council to partner with us, along with private capital, to deliver this vital second rail river crossing that will ensure our city has the rail infrastructure it needs to accommodate future population growth.
"We want every level of government to have a seat at the table to drive collaboration, innovation and coordination so that along with delivering much needed transport infrastructure, we also reshape our city with places and spaces for our growing population to live, work and play."
Mr Hinchliffe said the updated business case based on the new alignment would be completed in mid-2016.
The Minister said the new 10.2 kilometre alignment includes 5.9 kilometres of tunnel and will unlock network capacity to meet forecast passenger demand and accommodate future growth.
"Over the next 20 years rail demand will increase threefold in South East Queensland and without major investment in the inner-city rail network by 2021, there will be no capacity to increase services during our busiest times and passengers will face overcrowding on platforms and trains.
"The Palaszczuk Government has fast-tracked the business case for our number one priority infrastructure project and announced plans to establish a delivery authority to ensure the project is built.
"The Palaszczuk Government is serious about investing in major public transport infrastructure that will ease congestion and drive economic productivity and growth and will establish an authority to ensure this project is no longer hostage to political point scoring.
"The Cross River Rail project is expected to provide 1,600 jobs each year during construction and, with an anticipated construction timeframe of five years, the project could generate more than 8,000 jobs for Queenslanders."
The new delivery authority will lead the development, procurement and delivery of Cross River Rail and support wider economic and social outcomes for the transformational project.
The authority will seek federal, state and local government co-investment and private sector participation as funding, financing and delivery partners.
The Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning and the Department of Transport and Main Roads are co-sponsoring investigations to finalise the preferred delivery model and specialist advisers from KPMG and Clayton Utz have been engaged.
A full range of options are being canvassed including using a dedicated government office, establishing a Statutory Authority or a Government Owned Company (enabled by Corporations Act). These options will be presented to government for consideration shortly.