$20 million in federal funds will go towards the development of three business cases for the provision of fast rail projects in NSW, Queensland, and Victoria.
The successful proposals include a Sydney to Newcastle line upgrade, submitted by the NSW government; a new Melbourne to Shepparton link, submitted by Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA); and an improved link between Brisbane and the regions of Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast, proposed by the North Coast Connect Consortium.
All three were submitted last year and subjected to a competitive assessment process that determined their potential to substantially improve the efficiency of rail links between key regional centres and major cities.
The Queensland government has welcomed the announcement of federal funds for the North Coast Connect project and has itself contributed $5 million for its business case for the duplication of the rail line from Beerburrum to Nambour.
“The Palaszczuk Government will provide this business case to the North Coast Connect consortium as an in-kind contribution – worth $5M,” a statement from QLD’s transport and roads minister Mark Bailey said.
“We look forward to working with them on the development of their business case for North Coast Connect.”
The project proposed by the North Coast Connect Consortium would involve an upgraded rail connection between Brisbane and Nambour, along with the development of a new rail spur to Maroochydore. It is estimated that, with the completion of the project, the travel time between Nambour and Brisbane can be reduced from approximately 2 hours to 45 minutes, with travel between Brisbane and Maroochydore also taking 45 minutes.
The NSW government’s Sydney-Newcastle business case will investigate options to quicken travel between the two cities, with works potentially involving reductions of track curvature and deviations, track realignments, removal of level crossings, junction rearrangements, and improve freight and passenger service segregation. Estimated travel time reduction is from 3 hours to 2 hours.
CLARA consortium’s Melbourne-Shepparton proposal seeks to develop a new dedicated fast rail corridor, reducing travel times from approximately 3 hours to 32 minutes.
The three business cases are expected to be delivered over the next 12 months and will then be subject to dependent assessment by Infrastructure Australia.