Infrastructure Australia has approved the $722 million upgrade of a 39-kilometre section of Queensland’s north-south rail corridor, clearing the way for more than half a billion dollars in Commonwealth funding for the project.
The federal independent advisory body tasked with assessing projects worth more than $100 million released its updated Priority List on March 27. The new list – the first since July last year – includes 12 approved projects, and 84 initiatives suggested for further consideration.
Three of the approved projects are new: the Beerburrum-Nambour upgrade, Brisbane Council’s proposed Brisbane Metro bus project, and Western Australia’s Myalup-Wellington water project.
Some projects have graduated to the delivery phase and have been removed from the list, including several road projects, the Murray Basin Rail Project, and the Adelaide-Tarcoola Rail Upgrade Acceleration. The Perth Freight Link toll road project – which was cancelled by the freshly-elected McGowan Government last year – has also been removed from the list.
Under the Beerburrum-Nambour upgrade proposal, the Queensland Government plans to build two new tracks along an improved alignment between Beerburrum and Glass House Mountains, and then to duplicate the existing railway between Glass House Mountains and Landsborough, on the state’s key North Coast Line.
New structures, including rail and road bridges, drainage structures and retaining walls will be built to accommodate the new track, and existing passing loops at Landsborough, Eudlo and Woombye stations will be extended.
“The project will address capacity constraints on this key section of the North Coast Line by nearly doubling the number of freight paths and enabling additional passenger services, which will improve the efficiency of passenger and freight services and ease pressure on the Bruce Highway,” IA said in its assessment.
The Queensland Government is proposing the Federal Government contribute $577.9 million of the needed funds, while it says it will contribute $144.5 million.
Deputy PM and Nationals leader Michael McCormack said the Priority List remained critical in informing all levels of government and the private sector.
“The Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade … will significantly enhance access to Brisbane from the north,” he said.
“The Coalition Government will continue to commit to the infrastructure Australia needs. We are making a record $75 billion investment into nation building projects which is contributing to new heights for both economic growth and job creation across Australia.”
The Inland Rail project remains on Infrastructure Australia’s ‘Priority Initiatives’ list, and is unlikely to graduate to ‘Priority Project’ status on account of its poor on-paper Benefit Cost Ratio. The Commonwealth is nonetheless committed to delivering the project, however, given the value it will add to the government-owned track owner, the Australian Rail Track Corporation.