Funding to establish a National Faster Rail Agency and a commitment to a Brisbane to Gold Coast faster rail business case were welcome additions to tonight’s Federal budget announcement, and another step towards South East Queensland (SEQ) becoming a 45 minute region.
The Coalition Government tonight announced a commitment of an initial $14.5 million for a National Faster Rail Agency to identify and support the development of fast rail connections, while also committing $40 million for detailed assessments of five fast rail corridors including Brisbane to the Gold Coast.
Tonight’s commitments build on the Brisbane to Sunshine Coast faster rail business case due for release later this year, and a previous budget commitment of $15 million to investigate a Toowoomba passenger rail solution.
An SEQ faster rail network was the cornerstone of the Council of Mayors’ (SEQ) recently released SEQ People Mass Movement Study, which demonstrated how faster rail could reduce the commute time between SEQ’s cities to under 45 minutes (even in peak times).
Council of Mayors (SEQ) Chair Cr Graham Quirk said a faster rail network was critical to achieve the vision of a 45 minute region, and to ensure infrastructure delivery would keep pace with the anticipated population growth of SEQ.
“The SEQ Mayors have lobbied incredibly hard to ensure our region has the infrastructure needed to cater for our growing population. This announcement is acknowledgement that our message is getting through and Canberra is hearing us loud and clear,” said Cr Quirk.
“We’re also fortunate to have strong and supportive Federal members in SEQ. In particular, we’d like to thank the Member for Fairfax Ted O’Brien for his tireless efforts in advocating for better rail connections for the Sunshine Coast and the region as a whole.
“In the coming decades, the region’s population will grow to more than five million people. Without the infrastructure to support this growth, maintaining the liveability and lifestyle we currently enjoy in SEQ will become increasingly challenging.
“Brisbane Metro and Cross River Rail will be fantastic enablers of people movement in SEQ, and the introduction of a faster rail network will ensure the benefits of these projects reach well beyond the boundaries of Brisbane City.”
An SEQ faster rail network would deliver a regional rail connection with a potential top speed between 200km/h to 250km/h, and an average running speed of 160km/h. This is compared to the current Citytrain network with a top speed between 100km/h to 140km/h and an average running speed of 60km/h.
When complete, an SEQ faster rail network could slash commute times from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast to 45 minutes, Brisbane to the Gold Coast to 35 minutes, and Brisbane to Ipswich to just 20 minutes.
These faster rail commitments came as part of a broader infrastructure commitment for SEQ, including:
- $800 million for the Gateway Motorway extension from Bracken Ridge to Pine River
- $500 million for the M1 Upgrade program, including Daisy Hill to the Logan Motorway
- An additional $91.4 million for the Bruce Highway, Maroochydore Road Interchange Upgrade
- $320 million for Warrego Highway upgrades between Ipswich and Toowoomba
- $170 million for Cunningham Highway projects
- $60 million for the Toowoomba to Ipswich corridor
- $85 million for Lindum Crossing
- $50 million for the Gympie Arterial Road
- $50 million for M1 intersection upgrades
- $50 million for the Ipswich Motorway corridor
- $30 million for the Beaudesert Road and Mount Lindesay Highway corridor, and
- $25 million for the Indooroopilly Roundabout Intersection.
A complete list of the priority infrastructure projects identified in the SEQ People Mass Movement Study is available at seqmayors.qld.gov.au.