Thursday, April 25, 2024

New rail connection on track for Sunshine Coast

A new heavy rail connection is tracking towards construction on the Sunshine Coast, that will make a trip to Brisbane at least 45 minutes faster than a car, Queensland Premier, Steven Miles has confirmed.

The Queensland Government is committing an initial $2.75 billion to deliver Stage 1 of the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line project, which includes protection of the updated rail alignment all the way to Maroochydore.

The first stage will see a 19km dual track built from Beerwah to Caloundra, the longest spur line in the south-east passenger network.

Staged delivery will see the line ultimately run to Birtinya and Maroochydore. It will deliver faster rail to the Sunshine Coast, with trains able to reach speeds of 140km per hour on some sections of the track.

Premier Miles says the Beerwah to Caloundra stage could be operational in time for Brisbane 2032, subject to a matched funding agreement from the Federal Government.

“The Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line is another record investment in Queensland’s rail network from our government, building on the multi-billion dollar rail revolution currently underway,” said Mr Miles.

“Through to Cross River Rail, we are removing the bottleneck in Brisbane’s CBD and creating opportunities to provide better rail services to some of South East Queensland’s fastest growing regions. 

“With better, more connected rail options available we hope commuters will leave the car at home, reducing congestion and lowering transport emissions on the path to net zero.”

The Sunshine Coast is one of the fastest growing regions in the state, and is forecast to be home to 600,000 people by 2046.

“A direct rail connection to the Sunshine Coast will unlock thousands of homes in the growing Sunshine Coast region and accelerate the release of new, affordable developments,” the Premier said.

“Without the rail line, that development would bring an unmanageable level of congestion to the local road network, making this connection essential for new housing to be brought forward.”

Modelling shows most of the population growth will be concentrated along the first stage of the rail line, around Caloundra South (Aura).

Stage 1 of the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line will be a significant enabler for new housing, including supply for 50,000 people at Caloundra South and up to 100,000 people at Beerwah East.

“Direct Sunshine Coast Rail will revolutionise public transport – making a trip to from Caloundra to Brisbane at least 45 minutes faster than a car,” said Transport and Main Roads Minister, Bart Mellish.

“For the first time, residents in the region will have a direct, fast and reliable connection to the South-East.”

The funding envelope for Stage 1 is expected to be between $5.5 billion and $7 billion, with final costs to be confirmed at the completion of the procurement phase.

A ‘funding envelope’ is an approach taken on other similar projects around the world, allowing costs to be finalised when contracts are executed.

“The Miles Government that can deliver this transformation, thanks to the strength of our budget and the capacity enabled by our investment in Cross River Rail,” said Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Cameron Dick.

“We look forward to the Federal Government hopping on board to match our commitment, so we can deliver this project, not just for 2032 but for decades to come.”

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