Rail advocates call out '$100m per kilometre' plans

Fast train.
Fast train. Hon Fai Ng

ADVOCACY group RAIL Back on Track has costed ambitious high-speed rail plans for the south-east Queensland at an eye-watering figure with not much change from $100 billion.

The group's administrator Robert Dow tipped the Brisbane-Coolangatta leg of the network to cost close to $30 billion, including Cross River Rail for $15 billion, and the northern network from Brisbane to Bundaberg, including activation of the North-West transport corridor, to come at a cost of around $40 billion.

He said costings had been done at $100 million per kilometre.

However costings of other high-speed rail networks around the globe, including a route linking Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, have been significantly less expensive than RAIL Back on Track's estimates.


Rail Back on Track's Robert Dow.
Rail Back on Track's Robert Dow. Inga Williams IR140314TRANSLINK3

Beyond Zero Emissions found that the 1799km network could be built with a total construction cost of about $84 billion.

Mr Dow said a range of issues, including purchase of a new train fleet, training of staff and upgrades of technology and tracks, also had to be accounted for.

LNP leader Tim Nicholls pledged $2.5 million to progress a business case to assess the possibility of a high-speed rail network connecting the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and Wide Bay.

"Tim, you need to do better," Mr Dow wrote, unimpressed with what he considered as vague plans.

Mr Dow said regardless of the LNP's position on Cross River Rail, for a high-speed rail network to exist, a river crossing like the Cross River Rail was required, and the time savings of a high-speed network would be minimal, with the cities not far enough apart.


LNP Leader Tim Nicholls in Rockhampton.
LNP Leader Tim Nicholls in Rockhampton. Allan Reinikka ROK030817anicholl

Mr Nicholls said the $2.5 million commitment was all about planning for the future, and the business case would explore technologies, costs and benefits for a south-east Queensland fast train network.

He said it was building on a previous approach to the Federal Government, and it was "important to assess all of the costs and benefits rather than rubbish it out of hand".

Mr Nicholls said the LNP supported another heavy rail crossing of the Brisbane River, but wanted the right solution, in terms of Cross River Rail plans.

Mr Nicholls did not commit to Beerburrum-Landsborough rail duplication if elected.

Topics:  business community fast rail politics south-east queensland state government sunshine coast transport travel

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