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BILL Shorten will promise to make Cross River Rail a reality, with a major funding commitment towards the $5.4 billion project.
The Opposition Leader’s $2.24 billion cash splash would fully fund the congestion-busting project and save Queensland taxpayers billions of dollars.
The Courier-Mail can also reveal Labor will match Malcolm Turnbull’s $1 billion pledge to widen two sections of the M1 – meaning the project will go ahead no matter who wins the next election.
Mr Shorten will travel to Brisbane on Monday to make the commitment for Cross River Rail, a 10.2km line between Dutton Park and Bowen Hills.
Labor will also match Malcolm Turnbull’s $1 billion pledge to widen two sections of the congested M1. Picture: Darren EnglandThe funding pledge will relieve the Palaszczuk Government of $800 million during construction, and there would be a 50-50 split for the running of the line.
It would also mean the State Government wouldn’t have to “go it alone” to fund the line, removing any doubt about the project’s future.
“This is southeast Queensland’s number one infrastructure project – that’s why Labor is making it a priority,” Mr Shorten said. “This will allow more trains, more often. It will take cars off the road and get traffic moving.”
The project is expected to create 7700 jobs during construction and 550 afterwards.
It will include 5.9km of tunnelling under the Brisbane River and CBD, as well as four new underground stations – at Boggo Road, Woolloongabba, Albert Street and Roma Street – and the upgrade of the existing Dutton Park and Exhibition stations.
Once completed, the rail line will remove current bottlenecks by doubling capacity across the river.
Bill Shorten will pledge $5.4 billion for the Cross River Rail project. Picture: Colin Murty/The AustralianMr Shorten said it was a “critical project” for the southeast’s future, with the region’s population expected to grow from 3.5 million to 4.9 million by 2036.
The Palaszczuk Government last year pledged to go it alone and fully fund the project, committing almost $3 billion over four years and promising to include the remainder in future budgets if the Commonwealth refused to stump up any funds.
Mr Shorten’s commitment is expected to place pressure on Mr Turnbull after the Prime Minister last week promised $5 billion towards building an airport rail link in Melbourne.
“Failure to build the Cross River Rail will severely limit the region’s ability to grow, and will put more pressure on already-congested roads,” Mr Shorten said.
The $1 billion commitment for the M1 will widen the motorway from Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill to eight lanes, as well as widening the road to six lanes from Varsity Lakes to Tugun.
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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