The man in charge of building Brisbane’s biggest infrastructure project, the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail, has said he has learnt the lessons from the infrastructure delivery of big rail projects in Sydney and Melbourne and will deliver it on time and on budget.

Cross River Rail chief executive Graeme Newton, the former boss of the $12 billion Queensland Reconstruction Authority, which helped rebuild the state after natural disasters, said the major delivery of contracts for the 10.2 kilometre rail duplication would be locked in by mid-2019.

After a decade of uncertainty under successive state governments over whether the project would proceed – and who would pay for it  Mr Newton wants to focus on the future for the project he says will transform the Queensland capital.

The Cross River Rail will provide a crucial underground river crossing – 35 metres below the surface – and is aiming to unblock the commuter bottle-neck in a city that is almost more renowned for its sporadic development than its brown snake-like river.

“Cross River Rail is about the context of the city and its development. It will help turbo-charge other developments in the city. By 2025, the whole face of Brisbane will have changed,” Mr Newton told The Australian Financial Review.

“People were still a little bit sceptical about this project last year and this time last year we had an election campaign and it was only the second last day of the campaign when the [Liberal National Party] Opposition said they would proceed with the project subject to timing, but now we are getting on the front foot and industry is behind us.”

Cross River Rail is part of a $15 billion infrastructure boom in Brisbane over the next five years that includes Star Entertainment Group’s $2 billion Queen’s Wharf integrated resort and casino, the Howard Smith wharves redevelopment and Brisbane’s new runway.

The Palaszczuk Labor government is hoping to use the Cross River Rail project to undertake redevelopment in Woolloongabba in Brisbane’s south, near the famous Gabba sporting ground, and the eye-sore Roma Street transit centre, which they are hoping to turn into a 17,000-seat entertainment stadium. The Brisbane City Council’s $944 million Metro project will also link with the Cross River Rail.

The underground rail system is expected to be finished in 2025, generating 7700 jobs during construction.


(Source: Mark Ludlow, Financial review)