Commuters using the new Cross River Rail network will face “wins and losses” when traveling from 2025, a rail lobbyist says.
- The new network plan for the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail was released on Tuesday
- Transport Minister Mark Bailey says the program is on budget and on schedule
- Rail routes through the CBD will be significantly shifted from 2025
Under the new South East Queensland Rail Connect plan released on Tuesday several existing rail lines will be rerouted.
The Gold Coast and Beenleigh lines will bypass Central station and travel directly through the Cross River Rail tunnel to Woolloongabba, Albert, and Roma Street stations before continuing northward to the Sunshine Coast.
The Ferny Grove line will be linked up with the Cleveland line instead of the current Beenleigh line, and the Airport line linked up with the Ipswich line.
Rail Back on Track spokesman Robert Dow, who received a briefing on the plan before it was published, said overall the new network would allow significantly more trains to run daily.
“We think [the plan] is the best structuring in terms of how the tunnel is configured with the track layouts north and south of the tunnel,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane.
“It will mean that people in some cases will have to change how they travel.”
The switch of the airport line onto the Ipswich spine will require travelers from the north to change at Eagle Junction or Roma Street to get to Brisbane Airport.
Southern travelers to the airport will also need to change at Roma Street.
Overall, Mr Dow said, the new network was sound, noting bus connections would also need to change to match the new system in 2025.
Gold Coast concerns
But Gold Coast Major Tom Tate questioned why the new network ended the direct line between his city and the Brisbane Airport.
“Something isn’t right when the two biggest cities in Queensland, with two major international airports, won’t have a direct air train service,” Mr Tate said.
“I accept that the services from the coast to Brisbane city will be faster but having to change for an airport connection is a huge disincentive.
“The whole intent of Cross River Rail is more services, faster services and greater reliability. That seems to not apply to the critical airport direct services.”
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said there was “a lot of logic” in the new network which made the most use of the new underground tunnels.
He said the new network would significantly improve access to The Gabba for sporting and cultural events while CBD workers would find it more convenient.
“A lot of people, for instance, get out at South Bank and South Brisbane at the moment and walk across the bridges because the current system is so circuitous,” he said.
“They’ll be able to go directly to Albert Street, get out and go to their place of work within a block or two. It’s going to be fantastic.”
On Tuesday, opposition transport spokesman Steve Minnikin grilled Mr Bailey on the total cost of Cross River Rail during parliamentary estimates, questioning the project’s $5.4 billion price tag.
Mr Minnikin said the “core” cost of Cross River Rail did not include millions for additional projects that were critical to the network’s future success, including $301 million for the Clapham Yard Stabling in Moorooka and $327 million for a new European train control system.
Mr Bailey said his advice was the project was “on budget” and his department was monitoring the impacts of rising inflation on construction materials.
Meanwhile, Brisbane City Council recently launched a review of its bus network ahead of the $1.7 billion Brisbane Metro coming online in late 2024.
The on-demand Metro buses will run regularly along the south-eastern busway and connect with Cross River Rail at Roma Street and Woolloongabba.
Plans for exactly how the Metro will integrate with those two rail stations are still to be determined.