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Gillard backs $1.1bn Moreton Bay rail link

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> Prime Minster Julia Gillard announced last week that if re-elected the Labor Government will commit $742m for the long-awaited Moreton Bay rail link to the Brisbane suburb of Redcliffe. </span> <p>The government will partner with the Queensland Government and Moreton Bay Regional Council to fund the 12.6km rail line that will connect the Redcliffe Peninsula to the existing network at Petrie station.</p><p>Gillard reportedly said that federal funding would not flow until 2014-15, beyond the forward estimates of the current budget, and would be made available from Nation Building Program 2.</p><p>The Queensland Government has pledged $300m plus land already in state ownership and the Moreton Bay Regional Council has committed $105m to the project.</p><p>This funding will see detailed planning, consultation, environmental assessment, and geotechnical and design work start immediately, with preliminary construction work commencing in 2012 and construction due to finish by 2016.</p><p>The rail link did not make Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) recent second National Infrastructure Priorities list, nor did it make a recent update of infrastructure projects in Queensland – something that GRMS Media director and industry commentator Mark Carter said is “very surprising”.</p><p>“The government’s announcement that they will fund the rail link seems to undermine a fairly selective process that is carried out by IA and shows that the process is still subject to political interference,” Carter said.</p><p>Tony Abbott released a statement last week saying that a Coalition government will deliver the rail link and if elected, will provide $750m towards the project.</p><p>Queensland transport minister Rachel Nolan said the Liberal Party had performed an “amazing backflip” on the rail link and the Howard Government did not fund a single public transport project in nearly 12 years of office.</p><p>Federal infrastructure and transport minister Anthony Albanese declared the election of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister the “only remaining threat” to the “often promised” rail line.</p><p>“While the Gillard Labor Government has a record of unprecedented investment in infrastructure, Tony Abbott as a senior member of the former Coalition Government refused to spend even one dollar on public transport infrastructure,” Albanese said.</p><p>“Only the Gillard Labor Government has a plan to move our cities forward, one which recognises the task of renewing and expanding their public transport infrastructure requires a partnership between all the levels of government.”</p><p>The new Moreton Bay Rail Link will reduce commuting times for the 84,000 people living along the line and on the Redcliffe Peninsula, with an express train from Kippa-Ring to Brisbane’s CBD expected to take just three quarters of an hour compared to well over an hour to drive in peak periods.</p><p>Every full train on the new line will take some 600 cars off the road and reduce carbon emissions. <br />&nbsp</p>