Brisbane Has Its CBD Rail Plan Too
Oh to be in an enlightened political environment like Brisbane’s.
An $8 billion underground rail project, not unlike our CBD loop plan, has been put at the top of a wish list for federal funding by the state government.
Queensland’s premier described it in the media similar to the way Auckland mayor Len Brown is selling the CBD loop.
Queensland’s Anna Bligh calls it “a project of national significance and it will make Queensland a more internationally competitive place.”
The Cross River Rail project will involve the construction of four underground stations around inner Brisbane, including at Albert Street in the CBD; near the Roma Street station; at Woolloongabba; and at the Boggo Road Urban Village in Dutton Park.
“A station in Albert Street will provide a link directly to the heart of the CBD and make travelling to popular destinations such as the Queen Street Mall, the Botanic Gardens and QUT Gardens Point a lot easier,” Ms Bligh said.
“It will be part of a project that will move 120,000 people in the morning peak into and out of the city.
“That’s the equivalent of a 30-lane motorway right through the city.”
It means a second river crossing for rail services running north to south. The city’s only current river crossing for trains, the Merivale Bridge at South Brisbane, will be over capacity by 2016.
Ms Bligh, like Len Brown, is also selling the idea as rejuvenating (in Brisbane’s case) the southern part of the CBD.
In 2009, the federal government provided $20 million to scope out the potential of the project, but it now needs significant federal and private sector funding to make it viable, Ms Bligh said.
Interestingly, the local equivalent of the AA here has also publicly strongly supported the project as Queensland’s number one funding request. (How do we get the AA on board with the CBD loop?!)
As likely with the CBD loop, private sector funding is necessary for the Brisbane project. Like Auckland’s situation, a draft business case has just finished and by mid-2011, the business case and funding proposals will go to both the state and federal governments.
Construction is expected to take about four years.
The Queensland government has already earmarked $14.2 billion for the inner city rail project, including $8.2 billion for this cross-river rail project.
Once again, if Auckland is to follow Brisbane as the example of a super-city that has some similarities, our government needs to wake up and watch that Brisbane is also getting a new CBD rail extension.
It’s fascinating to see how much infrastructure development is going on around Brisbane but also to note how motorway tolls do not always work to pay for it all.
A private partnership project, the city’s first cross-river tunnel, the $3b Clem7 tunnel, was opened to motorists in March, but traffic dropped 67% the moment tolls kicked in a month later.
The company projected 60,000 vehicles using it a day but the average is 21,178 vehicles despite a present discount on the NZ$5.60 toll charge.(NZ$2.80 for motorbikes, NZ$8.41 for commercial vehicles and $NZ11.34 for those over 4.5 tonnes).
Its stock nosedived 333% over the year to less than 1c. The tunnel operator RiverCity Motorway has reported a $1.67b loss, and is praying for a deal with banks to stave of financial collapse. The firm has warned that it is running out of cash and will collapse unless it can negotiate a deal with a consortium of banks owed $1.3b.
But construction continues on the state government’s Airport Link tunnel to connect the Clem7 to the northern suburbs and airport precinct by 2012, while Brisbane City Council is pushing ahead with a Northern Link tunnel project.
There are also plans to extend the busway alongside the motorway which was an example for Auckland’s North Shore busway.
And Sydney motorists got a New Year present with tolls going up with the biggest increase for those using the M2 Hills Motorway – Pennant Hills Road Plaza – a 50c leap to $2.75(NZ$3.60).
And the Liberals there issued a statement saying motorists will pay an average of $85,000 in M7, M2, Lane Cove Tunnel and Sydney Harbour Bridge tolls between now and 2024 but “if Labor had fulfilled its promise to deliver the northwest rail link by 2010, local residents would be able to catch the train to work in the city each day. Instead, they are forced to endure hours in gridlocked traffic, paying escalating tolls.”
Labor is widely expected to lose the forthcoming state election and – in the opposite situation to NZ politics- the opposition Liberals promise to prioritise the northwest rail link and start construction in the first term of government.