The Queensland Government will delay the $7bn Brisbane Cross River Rail project for at least two years to help fund the $5bn damage bill for the stateâs public infrastructure that was affected by flooding.
According to the government’s mid-year economic review released last Friday, Queensland will run a $4bn deficit in the coming financial year, with almost $2.5bn worth of damage to the state’s major road and rail networks.
Premier Anna Bligh said that delaying Cross River Rail would only “inconvenience commuters” and was a small price to pay for the flood disaster.
Brisbane’s inner-city rail link across the river will reportedly reach peak-hour capacity by 2016.
“Putting this project here in Brisbane on hold for two years [until at least 2015] means that we have been able to proceed with major projects across the regions that are important to their local economies,” Bligh told the Courier Mail.
Handing down the MYFER Queensland treasurer Andrew Fraser reportedly said it was “obvious” the Federal Government could also not contribute to Cross River Rail so the project must be delayed.
A major portion of the government’s contribution to the flood reconstruction effort will come from the sale of the long-term lease of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal, expected to bring in at least $1.5bn.
The “lynchpin” of the government’s ambitious plan for South East Queensland, the project was currently undergoing a $25m feasibility study. Cross River Rail will provide essential capacity at the core of SEQ’s rail network that could double the number of train services from the suburbs to the city.
The project would provide higher frequency and improved reliability on all lines, making it possible for the rail network to move up to 240,000 passengers into the inner city during the two-hour morning peak, compared to the current 54,000.
Cross River Rail will provide new links in SEQ’s network including new rail line and stations in the inner city and a new rail line from Alderley to Strathpine, Darra to Springfield, and Ipswich to Ripley.