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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Transport and Main Roads
    The Honourable Paul Lucas


    Minister for Transport and Main Roads
    The Honourable Paul Lucas

    Sunday, August 26, 2007


    Brisbane’s rail network could be connected by a massive underground tunnel and major new stations under proposals being looked at in a new State Government study.

    Minister for Transport and Main Roads Paul Lucas said the study would help determine how the city could manage the massive growth in public transport demand.

    “Queensland’s population is increasing by 1500 people a week and close to 70 per cent of that growth is in the south east,” Mr Lucas said.

    “But popularity comes with a price. And we need to plan now to ensure public transport will continue to be affordable and convenient in Brisbane into the future.”

    Mr Lucas said the State Government had appointed consultants Maunsell Parsons Brinkerhoff to look at options for boosting rail capacity in the city centre, including potential for an underground tunnel. The $5 million Inner City Rail Capacity Study is expected to be completed in the second half of next year. The public will have a chance to have input into the study next year.

    “We already know that by around 2016 we’ll face congestion on the Merivale Bridge because of the massive number of new services we’re putting on. But rather than simply deciding to put up another rail bridge right next to it, I want to look at options that will provide smart solutions for the next 50 years and beyond.”

    Mr Lucas said the study would develop a range of possible options connecting the rail network north and south of the river. One possible option is:

    • a 5km to 6km long underground rail line from Park Rd Buranda to Woolloongabba and across the river to connect with the Exhibition line, and
    • major new train stations at Woolloongabba, Gardens Point/QUT, and in the city’s financial district.

    The study will also consider:

    • the feasibility of using the Exhibition loop for year-round services, supported by new stations,
    • upgrading existing corridors including additional tracks and station upgrades,
    • dedicated links with the busway network at Buranda and Woolloongabba, and
    • possible future incorporation of a transport-oriented development at Woolloongabba and consideration of other such locations

    “This is a very complex study,” Mr Lucas said.

    “Rail tunnels aren’t like road tunnels – the grade can’t be too steep. That means any rail tunnel might have to be longer or deeper than a road tunnel like the North South Bypass Tunnel. So a rail tunnel could cost more but provide more opportunities for smart network links.

    “The study is not likely to recommend an underground city loop because of the small size of the CBD plus technical and operational constraints. But it will consider other potential crossings including bridges adjacent to existing road and rail connections.”

    Mr Lucas said with the increased population growth, coupled with the growing attractiveness of public transport, Citytrain patronage could increase by between 39% and 98% by 2016.

    “That’s on top of the extra 40 million trips being taken on public transport every year now compared with 2004,” Mr Lucas said.

    “But the inner city rail network is the hub of the rail network and its capacity limits how many extra trains we can run on lines servicing the Gold Coast, Ipswich, Cleveland, Caboolture and the Sunshine Coast.”

    Mr Lucas said the Inner City Rail Capacity Study would systematically take all the physical and operational constraints and opportunities into account in coming up with options, as well as the inner city's anticipated growth in the next 20 years and beyond. Any future rail tunnel could cost at least several billion dollars.

    The State Government's Smart Cities Report foreshadows further development of the central business district fringes and intensive transit-oriented development at places such as Bowen Hills and Woolloongabba.

    “Let me make it crystal clear, this is what we’ll be looking at part of the study. None of it is guaranteed but we want to look at potential solutions that will serve the region for decades,” Mr Lucas said.

    “This study is about taking a master-planned, network approach that will serve South East Queensland for the next 50 years.

    “Under the South East Queensland Infrastructure Plan the Beattie Government has already committed more than $7 billion over the next 20 years to capacity upgrades on the corridors, new lines to Springfield and on the Gold Coast and new trains.

    “We’ll need to upgrade inner city rail capacity to continue to meet this growth.”

    Mr Lucas said the option of an underground tunnel could be the next revolution in public transport infrastructure.

    “More than 80% of trips to Suncorp Stadium are now being taken on public transport.”

    “There are 12 AFL games at the Gabba this year, with crowds around 30,000, and up to 20 cricket matches as well. Imagine what having a train station at Woolloongabba could achieve on game day, let alone the role it could play in revitalising that part of town 365 days a year.

    “And imagine how different Brisbane would be if we had a train station at Gardens Point servicing the more than 30,000 people a day using QUT and the Botanic Gardens.”

    Mr Lucas said any new rail tunnels would complement the State Government’s plans for a citywide busway network.

    “The South East Busway is massively popular. And by mid next year we’ll have the city link of the Inner Northern Busway finished. But we’re also building the Boggo Rd Busway to the Dutton Park, the Eastern Busway to Coorparoo and ultimately to Capalaba and the Northern Busway to Kedron.”

    “Much of the public transport patronage growth over the last few years is down to the massive increase in State Government funding for bus services in and around Brisbane.

    “For every dollar spent on bus services in the city of Brisbane, the State Government spends 72 cents compared to Brisbane City Council’s 28 cents. And that might go higher given the Lord Mayor’s comments earlier this year that it wasn’t up to council to increase public transport services.

    "That funding includes adding 148 new buses and 5000 extra services a week to the network over this financial year. Many of those services will be in places where we’re already getting the most growth like Redcliffe, Logan and Ipswich and entirely funded by the State Government.

    “This is will address peak demand on key services, increasing frequency and coverage of weekend services, and introducing new and better services to make the most of our infrastructure improvements.

    “It’s this commitment to funding new infrastructure, boosting services and planning not just for tomorrow but for the coming decades that will help reshape public transport in Brisbane.”

    Media inquiries: Robert Hoge 3237 1947

    History of rail tunnel plans in Brisbane CBD

    The Merivale Bridge, built in 1978, linked the north and south sides of the city in the central business district for the first time. Before that passenger trains on the south side of the city stopped at South Brisbane, while those on the north of the river stopped at Roma Street station.

    Consideration was given to a second rail bridge possibly to be constructed at Kangaroo Point near the Captain Cook Bridge and linking to an underground system in the city. The proposal went no further.

    Another significant upgrade to the system came in 1996 with quadruplication of the inner city rail network, with new tunnels between Roma Street and South Brisbane, in part to support the new Gold Coast services.