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Balancing act key to Queensland's infrastructure investment
Rising to the challenge
One of the more formidable infrastructure
challenges confronting the new government is the
looming heavy rail crisis in Brisbane's CBD.
An Environmental Impact Statement released by
the previous Bligh Government last year estimated
that without updates to the network, the existing
rail system in Brisbane's CBD will reach capacity by
2016. The EIS reaf rmed gures released by Premier
Beattie in 2005 and in the Inner-city Rail Capacity
study in 2008.
At the moment, there is just one inner-city rail
bridge across the Brisbane River -- the Merivale --
which is likely to reach its capacity limit by 2016.
Back in 2005, then Premier Peter Beattie began
planning an underground rail link called the Cross
River Rail (CRR).
The estimated cost of the CRR was originally $8
billion, though this was later revised down to $6.4
billion. Seven years on, despite there being little
progress in terms of funding, Infrastructure Australia
(IA) rated the Cross River Rail as 'ready to proceed'
in its report to COAG in July, on the grounds that it
offers genuine growth opportunities for the city.
Meanwhile, the South East Queensland Council
of Mayors supported scrapping the CRR in favour of
the much cheaper $2.5-billion 'Cleveland solution'
proposed in a report commissioned from engineering
Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, who chairs
the council, described the Cleveland solution as a
stopgap measure to boost capacity by adding around
20 years of life to the Merivale Bridge.
Quirk predicted that, eventually, the Cross River
Rail would still have to be built, but that 'there was
a recognition among mayors that there just wasn't a
spare $7 billion oating around in federal or state
government coffers to deliver CRR, and there was a
need to do something'.
On taking of ce, Emerson asked for a review
of the work already undertaken and options for
both future-proo ng the network and extending
the capacity deadline. In June, he announced his
decision -- a solution that he says will deliver the two
underground tunnels promised in the original plan
for the much lower cost of just $4.5 billion.
The plan put forward by the LNP, however, would
still require substantial funding from the federal
'We'll be seeking 75 to 80 per cent from
Canberra, which is standard for projects like this,'
he tells Future Building. 'Then we have to look at
how the private sector can get involved. This could
include commercial opportunities for investors, such
as paid parking.'
As the project cannot be delivered before 2020,
the state government is looking at short-term measures
to increase capacity. The review panel suggested a
number of interim measures, such as removing some
seats to create more standing room for commuters,
and rescheduling interstate services so that they don't
run in peak periods.
'We have to consider what delivers the best result
for the dollars we spend,' Emerson says.
He is now preparing a submission for Cabinet to
consider, and says he will continue to engage with
Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese and
Restoring con dence in public
The rationale behind a revamp of Queensland's
rail system is clear. Queenslanders made four
million fewer trips on public transport in the nal
six months of 2011 than in 2010. Major disruptions
to Queensland Rail services have shaken commuter
con dence, with two notable incidents in February
and March this year together affecting 297 services
and resulting in 124 cancellations.
An audit of Queensland Rail's maintenance was
ordered by the LNP when it took government.
'The audit found that maintenance of the rail
network was being carried out in a piecemeal fashion
Newman and Scott
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