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South-east Queensland faces a $69 billion brake on the economy due to a looming transport crisis, with Brisbane CBD's sole rail bridge to reach capacity in 2021, two years before the scheduled completion of the Cross River Rail tunnel.
Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe laid out the looming problem on day two of the Queensland Transport Infrastructure conference at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on Wednesday.
"By 2021 there will be no capacity to increase our services during our busiest times and passengers will face over-crowding on platforms and trains," Mr Hinchliffe said.
"Without an effective transport system providing access to jobs in growth areas (Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Ipswich and Moreton Bay), Brisbane's economic output could be restricted by about $69 billion between 2015-2031."
Brisbane train commuters are increasingly finding themselves crammed in to crowded carriages. Photo: Bennet NicholMr Hinchliffe said he understood the figures - and the timelines - were now startling.
"I can see that you see there is a problem there," he said.
"That looming capacity valley is of major concern to me as Minister for Transport and is of great concern for the Palaszczuk government."
Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe addresses the Queensland Transport Infrastructure Conference in Brisbane. Photo: Tony MooreHe urged planners at all levels of government to view the project in the broader sense.
"The Cross River Rail project is not just a public transport project, this is genuinely a city-making project," he said.
"And we need to see that in the context of the growth of our cities, in particular here in Brisbane."
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month released a Smart Cities policy looking at long-term solutions to "stop the 30-minute commute" in capital cities.
Mr Hinchliffe - with one eye on the federal election - said the project which had been discussed for almost a decade was "a real trailblazer".
"It's not simply a connection from one side of the city to the other via an underground tunnel, it's a key to reshape our city and reshape the way we plan, use and grow our cities."
He said there would be an extra 450,000 new jobs in Greater Brisbane by 2031.
"This means more people travelling to and from Brisbane to work everyday," he said.
"By 2036 that will mean nearly 1.2 million daily passenger transport trips in the Brisbane metropolitan region from growth areas like the Gold Coast, Moreton Bay, Ipswich and the Sunshine Coast."
Mr Hinchliffe said Brisbane was about to feel the pinch because there had been no new rail infrastructure in the CBD since 1996.
"And no new inner-city river crossing since the Merivale Bridge was built in 1978."
This article first appeared on www.brisbanetimes.com.au
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