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Offline ozbob

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Media release: 10th May 2017

Qld: State Government should make most of Federal Budget infrastructure funding

RAIL Back On Track (http://backontrack.org) a web-based community support group for rail and public transport and an advocate for public transport passengers has called on the state government to create new jobs and capitalise on the spending opportunities that rail infrastructure funding in tonight’s Federal Budget will open up for all Queenslanders [ 1 ].

Robert Dow, Spokesman for RAIL Back On Track said:

"State Labor will highlight the lack of significant new federal spending for Cross River Rail (CRR) in tonight’s Budget announcement. However $850m in state funding is available to begin construction in 2017-18, while a revised business case is worked up in accordance with guidelines laid down by Infrastructure Australia.  Transport Minister Trad’s ambition that CRR construction should start before the end of the year can still be realised, with Federal Government finances doing the heavy lifting in the out years.

“Sadly, CRR has become hopelessly compromised by Queensland partisan politics. The revised project is yet to pass all the state government assessment processes. It needs to stack up on economic grounds and in ways that generate urban renewal. These plans have not been revealed, particularly how, together, CRR and Brisbane Metro will be used to redevelop the inner city suburbs both will serve. CRR was never going to receive direct funding in this year's Federal Budget because CRR is only at the third tier of priority.  It is presently a ' High Priority Initiative '. To be funded it needs to make the top tier ' High Priority Project ' [ 2 ]. It is pointless for the Government and so called  ' expert stake-holders ' bleating about the lack of funding.  The business case presentation has been botched.

“The state government’s position that all other rail projects are on hold until CRR, its No.1 priority, is funded by the federal government. Tonight, we call on the state government to abandon this position as it is not correct or logical.

“The actions that Rail Back On Track seek are:

•   Immediate implementation of Automatic Train Protection (e.g. European Train Control System Level 2 or better) to allow more trains to operate safely on the existing SEQ suburban rail network
•   An Ipswich-Toowoomba regional revitalisation plan, in conjunction with local councils, to reinvigorate towns in the corridor based around a realigned and faster Inland Rail track that will halve train travel time to Toowoomba
•   Extension of the Springfield line to Redbank Plains and Ripley in the first instance, but ultimately to Ipswich to open up new opportunities for affordable housing in SEQ
•   Duplication of the Sunshine Coast Line to Landsborough North, then to Nambour ultimately and daily shuttle services between Nambour and Gympie North, and
•   Finally, an end to the secrecy surrounding delays in bringing New Generation Rolling stock into service in time for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. The extra 75 trains are needed to ensure reliability, and also to generate opportunities for an extended SEQ rail network.

“The wider region needs to be better integrated using effective public transport. Road investment merely shifts the traffic jams from one location to another,” Mr Dow said.

“With CRR stalled, we call on the Queensland Government to fast-track the $634m state-funded European Train Control System (ETCS) to ease peak congestion on the existing rail network through the city centre. It features an automatic braking system that enables trains to safely travel closer together and means an extra eight trains per hour will be able to move through the busy CBD. This becomes an important stop-gap measure while CRR is developed further.

 “With the Federal Government committing an extra $8.4 billion through an equity injection into the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) for the Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Rail Project in tonight’s Budget, the state government has an excellent opportunity to extend regular rail services and make available affordable housing opportunities in towns along the Brisbane-Toowoomba axis.

"The 126km section from Toowoomba to Kagaru, including large scale tunnelling, will be delivered through a Public Private Partnership arrangement. Under this delivery arrangement, the private sector will design, build, finance and maintain this section of the railway over a long-term concession period.

“Between Gowrie, just west of Toowoomba, and Calvert, near Rosewood, there will need to be 76km of new upgraded and dual gauge track. This will include 7.6km of tunnels to create an efficient route through the steep terrain of the Toowoomba and Little Liverpool Ranges.

“The opportunity exists for the state government to run commuter trains to Toowoomba in almost half the time it takes The Westlander train on the existing track and alignment. The travel time efficiency savings flowing from the track improvements will make rail highly competitive with cars for the journey from Toowoomba to Brisbane.

“Extending regular passenger rail services to Toowoomba also opens up an opportunity for people from Ipswich and the western suburbs of Brisbane to take advantage of international air travel being developed from the Western Brisbane Airport at Wellcamp, on the outskirts of Toowoomba.

“Inland Rail will be a game-changer for SEQ. To capitalise on community and economic benefits that will flow, the state government should partner with the Toowoomba, Lockyer and Ipswich councils on a regional growth plan for the corridor and the towns along the route.

“The state government should tap into the $10 billion National Rail Program announced tonight, directed at linking regional centres to capital cities.

“It is imperative also that the state government coordinate a Toowoomba-Brisbane rail services upgrade with investment in a Springfield-Ripley Valley rail line extension, eventually linking to Ipswich, to allow for urban consolidation that will power Ipswich’s future expansion. Housing affordability is not just about bricks and mortar, but also how people connect with each other and with the wider community.

“Rather than crying over the lack of funding for key projects, Queensland needs to switch focus to capitalising on the best way to draw down the available funds the federal government has provided tonight, including the bring-forward of the Sunshine Coast Line duplication.

“Work on the $780 million duplication of the Sunshine Coast Line over 20km between Beerburrum and Landsborough North should proceed as quickly as possible, to be followed by a substantial upgrade of the remainder of the track, approximately 19km, to Nambour.

“While the 2017-18 Federal Budget does not deliver on all items in the Queensland infrastructure wish list, the test will be how agile the state government can be to maximise the benefits for this state based upon the program objectives and substantial regional rail funding on offer,” Mr Dow said.


Robert Dow
RAIL Back On Track https://backontrack.org


1.  Budget 2017-18

2.  Infrastructure Priority List 2017 - Project and Initiative summaries
Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
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Offline ozbob

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