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9 Mar 2023: Does the North West Transport Corridor need to be underground?

Started by ozbob, March 10, 2023, 00:21:14 AM

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Does the North West Transport Corridor need to be underground?

9th March 2023

A rail line along the North West Transport Corridor (NWTC) has come under the spotlight again after Infrastructure Australia rejected a BCC led road biased study into the project.
The study that claimed a tunnel was the only way to construct rail (or road) along this corridor, given the existence of bush, and existing housing parallel to the route. Infrastructure Australia quite rightly wants above ground options to be considered on equal footing.

Recently the RACQ also claimed that going underground was what large modern cities do.

RAIL Back On Track disagrees with both of these statements. Whilst short amounts of tunnel may be needed under particularly hilly or environmentally sensitive areas, most of the NWTC corridor has no environmental concerns. So tunnelling where it is not needed is simply wasting taxpayers money. The NWTC could be built above ground, with some tunnelling, cuttings, and cut and cover construction techniques.

The state of existing corridors

The reality is that decades of political inaction means there are several vacant transport corridors stretching across SEQ.
These corridors are like ribbons, typically 50 metres wide or more, more than sufficient to fit a rail line and cycleway/pedestrian paths through.

Over time, suburbia has developed to the edge of these corridors. Some of this development occurred with the promise that a rail line would be following soon. Some of these corridors have sat for so long that trees have sprouted.

The reality is that all future transport corridors have these constraints.

So are we supposed to believe that ALL future SEQ rail lines must be built underground now, because they might require the removal of  trees or run close to housing?
It's not a reasonable position to demand this, so calls to give the NWTC special treatment and make it an 100% underground line should be ignored. BCC is happy to knock down houses and bush for roads.

Going Underground

The RACQ claims that "Large cities around the world put their major new public transport and urban motorways underground and that's how we need to be thinking,"

But is this the reality?

Perth is currently completing several extensions to its train network, and these are being built above ground.

Similarly, Melbourne has used elevated 'skyrail' on several new projects.

Projects in Sydney have used a combination of tunnels and elevated skyrail in recent years.

Overseas, its much more common to see elevated lines than Australia (not just tunnels), for example the Evergreen Line extension to the Vancouver Skytrain.

Underground Rail has it's role, for example in dense or hilly areas where rail on the surface simply wouldn't fit.

On the other hand, SEQ is fortunate in that several future rail lines already have land set aside on the surface.

We could have a more sustainable transport network now if we got our act together and built these lines, and got off the merry go round of funnelling money into an endless cycle of motorway upgrades, which are NOT congestion busting BUT congestion inducing in the end. We need to focus on transport solutions for the future.

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

Figure:  Examples of Unbuilt Rail Corridors Across SEQ

Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
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Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
Ozbob's Gallery Forum   Facebook  X  Threads  Mastodon  BlueSky

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