A major rail project in Brisbane has suffered a setback after Infrastructure Australia (IA) rejected the proposal, a decision which has prompted angry reactions from the Labor Government.
Factors including the economic case, road congestion benefits and passenger uptake were cited in the evaluation. For instance, it says that in 2011 proposal predicted 374,000 passengers would use the rail line per day in 2016, whereas the 2016 business case reduced this to 195,000 for the same year.
The report also criticised a lack of consideration for alternative rail projects, including a new bus and train tunnel.
However, government figures have been quick to condemn IA’s findings, most notably Infrastructure Minister Jackie Trad, a vocal supporter of Cross River Rail. Trad and the Cross River Rail Delivery Rail Authority claim several errors in the evaluation, including the use of a map that places the city’s central business district on the wrong side of the Brisbane River. The map also invents a suburb called Hill Gate, which is not known to exist.
The nation government appears determined for the project to go ahead regardless, with the 10.2km rail line appearing to receive strong business support at an industry forum in June.
During the briefing at Parliament House, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was imperative that industry was on board, with early works for Cross River Rail set to start in September.
“Industry is ready to play its part after my Government committed to fully fund Cross River Rail,” the Premier said. “We are wasting no time - I have been clear that Cross River Rail is happening and that we will deliver this nation building infrastructure project.
“I understand that we need our industry leaders to be ready to act on our tenders and start the flow of jobs which is why we are having our first industry briefing today.”