QUEENSLAND Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure Jackie Trad last week announced the release of the Cross River Rail Business Case 2017, which she said details the challenges and opportunities facing South East Queensland's rail network.
At an estimated cost of delivery of $5.4 billion, Cross River Rail will deliver a new 10.2-kilometre rail line between Dutton Park and Bowen Hills, with 5.9 kilometres of tunnel under the Brisbane River and the CBD.
The project includes four new underground stations at Boggo Road, Woolloongabba, Albert Street and Roma Street, and two upgraded surface stations at Dutton Park and Exhibition. Cross River Rail is expected to double capacity of the rail network across the Brisbane River and through the CBD from the south.
"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," Ms Trad said.
"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."
Ms Trad said the project will remove the bottleneck, meaning the entire network can grow to benefit all public transport and road users. "It will provide the capacity we need to build the connections to the Sunshine Coast, Ripley and Flagstone," she added.
"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.
"The benefit cost ratio (BCR) has in fact improved due to the inclusion of additional factors such as the European Train Control system (ETCS), the introduction of Fairer Fares and updated demographics."
The release of the business case by the Queensland Government follows last month's release of the results of an independent evaluation by Infrastructure Australia, which found the benefits of the proposed project are overstated and likely to be outweighed by the costs.
"Based on a thorough evidence-based analysis of the business case, we have found that the rail patronage growth projections and the estimation of project benefits are unrealistically high," Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Philip Davies said at the time.
"We would welcome the opportunity to consider a revised business case from the Queensland Government addressing our concerns about the assumptions and projections used in the business case."
In its 2017-18 Budget, the Queensland Government announced it was fully funding the project, with an allocation of $2.8 billion over the forward estimates and a further $2.6 billion to be committed in future budgets.
The Queensland's Government's Cross River Rail Business Case is available from the Building Queensland website at <http://buildingqueensland.qld.gov.au/business-case/cross-river-rail/>.