Cross River Rail
|Cross River Rail|
|System||Queensland Rail City network|
|Termini||Dutton Park station|
|Website||Cross River Rail|
|Owner||Cross River Rail Delivery Authority|
|Rolling stock||New Generation Rollingstock|
|Line length||10.2 km (6.3 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,067 mm (3 ft 6 in)|
Cross River Rail is an underground railway through central Brisbane, which is currently under construction. The business case for the project was released in August 2017, with work officially beginning in September. The project replaces the planned 2013 BaT Tunnel, which in turn had replaced the original 2010 Cross River Rail proposal.
A new rail crossing is needed to ease congestion and improve accessibility. A second rail crossing is required after 2021 when Brisbane’s only inner-city rail river crossing, the Merivale Bridge, is expected to reach maximum capacity. The project includes just under six kilometres of rail tunnel, four new underground inner city train stations and an upgrade to the existing Exhibition station. Cross River Rail is considered to be the highest infrastructure priority by the Queensland Government. Infrastructure Australia evaluated the business case in 2017 and expressed concerns that the rail patronage projections may not be achieved, the benefits in the business case are overstated and that the cost benefit ratio is likely to be less than one.
The current 2016 proposed 10.2-kilometre (6.3 mi) rail link involves building a new 5.9-kilometre (3.7 mi) tunnel under the Brisbane River and the Brisbane central business district, creating five new inner city station precincts, and increasing the core capacity of the rail network. The alignment will extend from Dutton Park, through Boggo Road adjacent to the Boggo Road busway station, Woolloongabba, Albert Street, Roma Street and Exhibition to Bowen Hills. The Brisbane Transit Centre is to be demolished.
With an estimated capital cost of $5.4 billion it is expected to be the largest transport project ever built in Queensland. In addition, the project's detailed business case identifies the project will result in costs of $4.9 billion for additional services and complementary growth projects, and $4.4 billion for operation and maintenance costs over a 30-year period.  On 13 June 2017, the Queensland Government allocated $2.8 billion to start building the rail link. The remaining $2.6 billion of capital costs and other project costs is proposed to be allocated in future budgets. Infrastructure Australia has observed that early project designs formed the basis of the project cost estimates and are prone to design maturity risks. Construction started in September 2017, with completion scheduled by 2024. The Labor Government has stated the project will provide more than 1,500 jobs each year during construction, and boost the Queensland economy by $70 million.The tunnel will utilise the European Train Control System, and Automatic Train Operation. It will be solely operated by the New Generation Rollingstock fleet.
Infrastructure Australia considers that current patronage growth rate projections are excessive compared to growth rates attained in Australia previously. There is concern that the 2016 business case patronage growth estimates will not be attained, or the scale of estimated de-crowding benefits will not emerge. Infrastructure Australia regards the significantly overstated project benefits will have a material impact on the benefit-cost ratio, likely to be less than one.
In April 2016, the Queensland Government announced it would establish the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority to deliver the new project. After finalisation of a business case in August 2017, construction officially started in September 2017, when work began on demolishing the defunct GoPrint building at Woolloongabba, to make way for Cross River Rail.
In April 2019, the Queensland Government appointed a development consortia to deliver various aspects of the project. The consortia is expected to begin works from late 2019, with a five year construction time frame.
The Cross River Rail project is planned to deliver 4 new high capacity underground rail stations and an upgrade to the existing Exhibition station.
The new Boggo Road railway station in the inner-city suburb of Dutton Park will be a busy transport hub with a direct interchange available with the proposed Brisbane Metro. The station will provide direct pedestrian access to Princess Alexandra Hospital and is proposed that 134 trains will pass through the station during the morning peak.
Albert Street railway station will provide rail services to the southern part of the Brisbane CBD, providing direct access to the Queensland University of Technology, Gardens Point Campus. It is predicted that the new underground station will have 67,000 passenger use the precinct everyday.
The new underground Roma Street station will be an extension of the existing ground-level station that will provide direct access to the existing bus and train network as well the proposed Brisbane Metro. The entire Brisbane Transit Centre complex will be demolished and be relocated partially underground near the underground platform entrances, and a set of new high rise buildings will occupy the site.
The existing Exhibition Station in the suburb of Bowen Hills will undergo an extensive upgrade to support the demand that Cross River Rail project will bring. The station currently only opens a few times a year to service special events, like that Brisbane Ekka that is held on the Brisbane Showgrounds. After the station is upgraded it will open year round with high-frequency services connecting the surrounding residential community.
2010 Cross River Rail proposal
A report titled the 2008 Inner City Rail Capacity Study predicted that the demand for Brisbane peak train services would double by 2016. The Infrastructure Australia review of the current project highlighted that the 2011 business case projected the 2016 rail patronage – without Cross River Rail – as 374,000 passengers per day. The Queensland Rail Annual Report for 2015–16 reports patronage of approximately 150,000 passengers per day for the Citytrain network in 2015–16. Between Salisbury and Dutton Park the existing line is used by freight trains traveling to the Port of Brisbane and a terminal at Acacia Ridge, and the expected rise in the number of passengers services may interrupt freight services unless a new line is built. The Merivale Bridge is the only inner-city rail crossing in Brisbane, and by 2016 it was expected to be over capacity, leading the Queensland Government to plan for this project.
The original plans for the project were released on 11 November 2010. The project included a 9.8-kilometre (6.1 mi) tunnel, two new surface stations as well as four new underground stations. Upgrades to Moorooka and Rocklea were also proposed. Underground stations were proposed to include retail facilities, and a maximum of 120,000 passengers were claimed to be able to be moved during the morning peak period.
The city station was to be built under Albert Street, with two entrances and allowing for trains up to 200 m in length. Proposed stations at Woolloongabba and Exhibition were to be named The Gabba and The Ekka respectively.
Yeerongpilly was chosen as the southern portal because it had less impact on residents than a tunnel entrance at Fairfield. An entrance there would allow trains on the Ipswich railway line to use the tunnel via the Tennyson railway line. It also allowed the existing rail yards at Clapham to be used as stabling yards, negating the need to build a new storage depot for trains elsewhere.
2012 revised plan
In June 2012, the newly elected Newman Government announced plans for a scaled down version of the project estimated to cost $4.5 billion. The revised plan excluded upgrades to existing stations and extra above-ground train lines south or north of the new tunnel. The revised plan was expected to be completed by 2020. Thirty-nine commercial properties were to have been resumed for the project, including the Royal on the Park hotel and another nine properties in the central business district. One hundred and five residential properties at Yeerongpilly were to have been resumed for the expansion of the Yeerongpilly railway station.
2013 Bus and Train Tunnel proposal
In November 2013, the Queensland Government announced a revised plan for the BaT (Bus and Train) project as an alternative to the previous Cross River Rail proposal. The revised plan involved a 14.8m external diameter (13.5m internal diameter) 5.4 kilometres (3.4 mi) tunnel to accommodate both a dual track rail line on the lower level and a two lane busway above. The cost was expected to be $5billion with construction proposed to start in 2015 and completion in 2021. Citytrain patronage is quoted as having increased at an annual average of 3.4% between 2006 and 2012, compared to an average annual population increase of 2.4% over the same period, confirming forecasts that the Merivale Bridge will reach capacity some time between 2016 and 2021. However, this capacity constraint may be over pessimistic as doubt has been cast on the pre-2009 figures supplied by Queensland Rail due to double counting of patronage figures.
- BaT Tunnel scrapped as government looks for different cross river rail line Brisbane Times 6 March 2015
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- Australian Government, Department of Infrastructure and Transport, Research Report, No 131, 2012, p48