High speed rail between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast is a step closer to becoming a reality, after securing federal funding to develop a business case.
The Queensland project was one of 11 submissions shortlisted to receive a share of $20 million in public funding from the Turnbull government to develop a business case.
Twenty-six national rail submissions were lodged last year in a bid to ultimately share $10 billion of federal funding to improve rail connections between cities and regions.
The Consolidated Land and Rail Australia, or CLARA, also released a statement on Friday announcing their selection by the federal government to put forward a business case.
Submitted by Stockland, Smec, Urbis and KPMG, the “North Coast Connect” project proposed upgrading the existing line from Brisbane to Beerburrum, Beerburrum to Nambour and Beerwah to Maroochydore, creating 200km of fast rail that could potentially see train travellers reach the Sunshine Coast from Brisbane in 45 minutes.
As shortlisted projects, CLARA and the Sunshine Coast fast rail projects will now make a business case to be put forward for the next stage of selection.
They join the NSW government’s proposal for a Sydney to Newcastle connection.
The business cases are expected to be delivered over the next 12 months, and the Turnbull Government's funding for the business cases will be combined with funding provided by the project proponents.
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack said the intention of this process is to develop detailed proposals for faster rail services between major cities and surrounding regional areas.
“The successful proposals in NSW, Queensland, and Victoria were selected following a competitive assessment process for their potential to substantially improve the efficiency of rail links between key regional centres and major cities.
“If these proposals prove to be viable, they offer the potential to significantly reduce journey times on these key corridors—meaning better options for people who want to have the lifestyle of a regional centre but access to the job opportunities of a big city,” he said.
“We have also ensured that three different transport corridors, in three different states, are being considered.”
Once the business case for each proposal is complete they will then proceed to independent assessment by Infrastructure Australia.
Should the rail project in the Sunshine Coast be approved, it will add to the region’s current transport infrastructure action which includes the construction of a new main runway at the Sunshine Coast Airport, after John Holland Group was awarded a $225 million contract to begin construction.
Published in The Urban Developer, 11th March 2018