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The Queensland government is working on two separate business cases for futuristic 160km/h Fast Rail links in the state's south-east.
The first business case is a proposed link between Maroochydore and Nambour on the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.
The second proposes a link between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Under the Fast Rail concept, conventional trains with modifications would traverse railway tracks at speeds up to 160km/h, similar to Queensland’s Tilt Train speeds.
The trains would be slower than the High Speed Rail concept being floated separately by federal MPs, an idea similar to Japan’s 300km/h bullet trains.
The first $10 million Fast Rail business case, being promoted by Sunshine Coast federal MP Ted O’Brien, is being evaluated by Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads.
It has been developed by LNP federal ministers on the Sunshine Coast with a consortium of large developers including SMEC, Stockland, Urbis and KPMG, all of whom have major residential projects on the Sunshine Coast.
The state government has evaluated other Sunshine Coast rail line projects - worth $790 million - which would be upgraded and used in the Fast Rail concept.
The second $22 million business case examines a link between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
This business case, established in February and expected to be finished in late 2022, has attracted $14 million in contributions from the Queensland government and $8 million from the federal government.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said while considerable work was being done to evaluate Fast Rail, moving beyond business case concepts depended on substantial funding from the federal government.
“We all know Fast Rail technology is expensive,” Mr Bailey said.
“That is why any move in that direction would need to involve a substantial federal government commitment.”
Mr Bailey said the Queensland government was forced to fund Brisbane’s $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project – which will provide better rail links between the Gold and Sunshine coasts – with no help from the federal government.
“Cross River Rail is a really important part of getting a faster rail network and we are building that now,” Mr Bailey said.
“We have 20 per cent of it built already.
“So there is a lot of work being done in this space already.
“Getting the preparation work for the next phase [Fast Rail] is important, but Cross River Rail, when it opens, will cut travel time for people particularly on the Gold and Sunshine Coast lines by more than 10 minutes.”
South-east Queensland’s Council of Mayors has continually floated a faster rail network as important to remove congestion.
More than 18 months ago the Council of Mayors released a mass transit ideas forum where a suite of futuristic transport projects were canvassed.
Collectively those projects, some of which were under way, had a value of $64 billion.
However, there has only been road funding announced from the federal government since May 2019, with the likelihood of larger funding promises stalled by the delay in the South East Queensland City Deal in July 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tony Moore is a senior reporter at the Brisbane Times
This article first appeared on www.brisbanetimes.com.au
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