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South-east Queensland's mayors are hoping to use the proposed Fast Rail network as a legacy project that will boost the state's post-COVID recovery and link regional areas to Brisbane.
The first business case of a Fast Rail line between Maroochydore and Brisbane is now being evaluated by Queensland's Transport Department, and a second business case – for a line between Brisbane and the Gold Coast – will be completed by late 2022.
The new Roma Street station could be connected to Fast Rail under the proposal.
But a third proposal for Fast Rail between a regional centre and Brisbane – this time from Toowoomba – is also under way.
The SEQ Council of Mayors hope the Fast Rail proposals can build on opportunities presented by Brisbane's underground Cross River Rail.
The Queensland government is fully funding the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project, which will improve links between the Sunshine and Gold coasts by giving trains an urgently needed second route across the Brisbane River.
Fast Rail - what are they talking about?
Cross River Rail will also provide two new stations – Boggo Road and Roma Street – where a future Fast Rail network could meet both the existing suburban rail network and Brisbane City Council's Metro bus lines.
This would enable passengers at the new stations to switch "modes" from Fast Rail – if travelling from Toowoomba, the Gold or Sunshine coasts – to suburban rail lines, connected by Cross River Rail, or to Brisbane's Metro.
Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio supported the idea on Friday, pointing out that the region was growing quickly and that city's Wellcamp Airport made Toowoomba a viable freight hub.
"From Ipswich through the Lockyer Valley to Toowoomba, we will see significant population growth in the western corridor in the coming decades," Cr Antonio said.
"The Commonwealth has committed $15 million to investigate passenger rail between Brisbane and Toowoomba.
"Fast Rail should be a genuine consideration to ensure we are planning for the region’s growth.
"When we look back at COVID-19 and the billions of dollars spent, what will our legacy be?
"We hope it will be a Fast Rail network that will serve the south-east for decades to come."
This article first appeared on www.brisbanetimes.com.au
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