Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Infrastructure Projects, Track Construction

Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line on track for delivery

A new heavy rail connection is tracking towards construction on the Sunshine Coast, that will make a trip to Brisbane at least 45 minutes faster than a car.

The Queensland Government is committing an initial $2.75 billion to deliver Stage 1 of the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line project, which includes protection of the updated rail alignment all the way to Maroochydore.

The first stage will see a 19 km dual track built from Beerwah to Caloundra, the longest spur line in the south-east passenger network.

Staged delivery will see the line ultimately run to Birtinya and Maroochydore. This will deliver faster rail to the Sunshine Coast, with trains able to reach speeds of 140km per hour on some sections of the track.

Premier Steven Miles explained the connection will unlock thousands of homes in the Sunshine Coast region.

Image/Queensland Government

“Without the rail line, that development would bring an unmanageable level of congestion to the local road network, making this connection essential for new housing to be brought forward,” he said.

“The Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line is another record investment in Queensland’s rail network from our government, building on the multi-billion dollar rail revolution currently underway.

“Through to Cross River Rail, we are removing the bottleneck in Brisbane’s CBD and creating opportunities to provide better rail services to some of South East Queensland’s fastest growing regions.

“With better, more connected rail options available we hope commuters will leave the car at home, reducing congestion and lowering transport emissions on the path to net zero.”

The Beerwah to Caloundra stage could be operational in time for Brisbane 2032, subject to a matched funding agreement from the Federal Government.

The Sunshine Coast is one of the fastest growing regions in the state, and is forecast to be home to 600,000 people by 2046.

Modelling shows most of the population growth will be concentrated along the first stage of the rail line, around Caloundra South (Aura).

Member for Caloundra Jason Hunt explained what the line will mean for the region.

“Expanding the South East Queensland rail network with this direct line will benefit Queenslanders well into the future,” he said.

“This rail line will connect people on the Sunshine Coast to Moreton Bay and Brisbane for work, medical appointments, sporting and cultural events.

“We are committed to maintaining the liveability of the Sunshine Coast region. Direct Sunshine Coast Rail will help to support sustainable growth that ensures that we spend less time in traffic, and more time doing the things that we love.”

Stage 1 of the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line will be a significant enabler for new housing, including supply for 50,000 people at Caloundra South and up to 100,000 people at Beerwah East.

It’s expected the initial stage of the project will accelerate the delivery of more than 3,000 affordable and diverse homes already planned within the region.

The funding envelope for Stage 1 is expected to be between $5.5 billion and $7 billion, with final costs to be confirmed at the completion of the procurement phase.

A ‘funding envelope’ is an approach taken on other similar projects around the world, allowing costs to be finalised when contracts are executed.

It’s expected that Stage 1 of project will support 2,200 good jobs in the region.

Fast facts:

  • The Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line is a proposed 37.8km rail extension between Beerwah and Maroochydore to increase public transport opportunities and improve connectivity to Moreton Bay, Brisbane and beyond.
  • The detailed business case has determined an optimal realignment of the corridor between Beerwah and Maroochydore, which enables rail speeds of up 160km/h. The current trains can and do travel 140km/h, their maximum speed.
  • The realignment aims to minimise environmental impact and reduce curves in the line to allow for faster train speeds. The new corridor will be protected in 2024.
  • Over 80% of community feedback received during community consultation in 2023 were supportive of Direct Sunshine Coast Rail, helping inform the business case.