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FEDERAL backing for the LNP's $300m commitment to deliver rail duplication to the Sunshine Coast may not be guaranteed but its a promise that has the support of key commuter advocacy group Rail Back On Track.
The LNP would only say it was "very confident” the Turnbull Government would fund its share of the Beerburrum to Landsborough North duplication because it was vital to the Sunshine Coast.
However Federal Transport Minister Darren Chester has gone no further than saying he acknowledged the LNP's support for the project and that he stood "ready to further discuss the project, following assessment of the business case by Infrastructure Australia”.
Any federal funding would come from the Turnbull Government's $10 billion National Rail program announced in its 2017-18 Budget for priority rail proposals.
To date no money from that program has been allocated to Queensland.
Deputy Premier and Palaszczuk Government Minister for Transport Jackie Trad said LNP state leader Tim Nicholls needed to explain how he would fund the commitment.
"Last time this project was announced by the LNP in 2015 he said the only way to build it was to sell our assets,” Ms Trad said.
"This clearly shows asset sales are on his mind. What will Mr Nicholls cut to fund this project? Who will he sack?
"In three years of government the Newman-Nicholls government did not progress this project at all.
"It is the Palaszczuk Government that did the business case and submitted it to Infrastructure Australia in July and we have heard nothing from the federal government.”
Ms Trad said the LNP's commitment of $300m was $500m short of what was required. She said the National Rail Fund contained only $200m to distribute across Australia through to 2020.
"But this duplication is pointless without Cross River Rail which the LNP will not commit to building,” she said.
"You can't add 150 extra services on the Sunshine Coast line when there isn't capacity for the trains to get into Brisbane, it will just mean commuters are sitting waiting on trains because our network is at capacity.”
That's a claim Robert Dow of Rail Back On Track has rubbished saying rail services were not all about Brisbane.
Mr Dow said duplication of rail completed between Caboolture and Beerburrum had improved reliability and travel times as would duplication to Landsborough North.
"Cross River Rail would allow more express services into Brisbane,” he said.
"An upgrade to Landsborough North would reduce journey times and increase reliability. You don't have more services to Brisbane but you could extend services that now terminate at Caboolture to Landsborough North.”
Mr Dow said Cross River Rail was not needed to turn Landsborough North into a major public transport hub for the Sunshine Coast with bus services connecting rail commuters into the region's more densely urbanised areas.
He said Cross River Rail had not been thought about when a Labor Government first committed to the link.
"Now its Cross River Rail because Jackie Trad's survival depends on it,” Mr Dow said.
He said Labor may have done the business case for the duplication project but had then sat on it for six months before handing it on to Infrastructure Australia for assessment.
Meanwhile the RACQ has said both sides of politics needed to commit to duplication to Nambour to Nambour - a $1.7bn project - to "future proof " the Sunshine Coast and take strain off the Bruce Highway.
The peak motoring body wants six-laning of the highway between Pine Rivers and Caboolture, rail duplication to Nambour, an upgrade to the Steve Irwin Way as well as improvements to Mons and Maroochydore roads.
This article first appeared on www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au
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