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Rail commuters could discover next month where Brisbane's proposed underground tube-style train network will run, but Fortitude Valley businesses fear they will miss out.
Cross River Rail project director Luke Franzmann yesterday told a Fortitude Valley Chamber of Commerce lunch a decision on which of three short-listed options would be made soon.
However, the project came under fire yesterday for not reaching as far as Fortitude Valley.
Prominent Fortitude Valley property owner Lou Bickle, whose nightclubs include Cloudland, the Press Club and Ric's, said an underground rail station was needed for the entertainment precinct.
He said 40,000 people came into Fortitude Valley on Friday and Saturday nights and it would only get more crowded.
Mr Bickle said Cross River Rail needed to think of the future of the central city, because "of the volume of traffic that is required for people to board and live here".
"I mean just on the weekends there are 40,000 people coming in and out," he said.
"Would an underground rail station make that easier? Absolutely."
Each of the three options has inner-city lines, running from near the Queensland University of Technology at Gardens Point to a new rail station, under either Roma Street or Central Station.
The Cross River Rail Study is an $8.2 billion project to build a second inner-city rail river crossing, linking the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.
The Beenleigh line would be extended to a new underground rail station at Woolloongabba, then under the river and into the CBD.
Mr Franzmann said the George and Albert street options would connect to a new station at Roma Street, while the Edward Street option would connect to a new underground rail platforms under Central.
"Within the next month we would be in a position to talk about our choice with the community," Mr Franzmann said.
"What we will do is narrow the three options down to one and say that is our preferred option and then we will consult on that preferred option."
That will also include "indicative station locations", he said.
The inner-city's sole cross-river link - the Merivale Bridge near the Gallery of Modern Art - will be at capacity by 2016.
By the end of 2010, Cross River Rail will have a draft business case ready and by mid-2011, the business case and funding proposals will go to both the state and federal governments.
Construction is expected to take about four years.
The Queensland government has already earmarked $14.2 billion for the inner city rail project, including $8.2 billion for the cross-river rail project.
About 30 businesses - construction companies, signalling systems, property development firms and debt equity providers - have begun to express their interest in the project.
Mr Franzmann also confirmed that the underground rail stations would include retail areas and expressions of interest from these companies will also be sought as part of the business case.
Mr Bickle brought yesterday's luncheon to a halt when he asked what the project would bring to the Valley where two "one-way freeways" - Ann Street inbound and Turbot Street outbound - took traffic to and from the city.
"What will this project mean for us," Mr Bickle asked.
He scoffed at reports that the Clem7 tunnel would dramatically reduce traffic flowing through Fortitude Valley.
The existing Fortitude Valley station was last upgraded in 2008.
Brisbane City Council's draft neighbourhood plan suggests today's 5000 residents and 10,000 workers will increase to 27,000 residents and 75,000 workers by 2031.
Mr Franzmann said a possible Fortitude Valley tube station was being considered for the second $6 billion stage of Brisbane's Inner Metro rail project.
However an underground Fortitude Valley station remains an option for further study for 2016 in the $5 million Inner City Rail Capacity study released in 2008.
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