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The Queensland Premier and Transport Minister were unaware their government’s flagship $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project was referred to the Auditor-General by concerned infrastructure expert David Bannister.
Mr Bannister claims the project can not deliver the extra trains it has promised and says three urgent changes are needed to be made by March to allow it to be efficient in the long term.
A Cross River Rail concept design image of the upgraded Woolloongabba station.
Mr Bannister worked on the project with Queensland Rail from 2009 to 2016 and has compared changes made to the plans in July 2019 with Cross River Rail’s 2017 business case.
In response to the concerns raised by Mr Bannister, Transport Minister Mark Bailey said he was made aware of the referral to the Auditor-General after reading the Brisbane Times report.
"There’s lots of different theories, but we’ve got another 4½ years until it opens so there’s still a lot of normal consequential work that will happen, but I am very confident in that project," he said.
Mr Bannister also raised concerns over the low-growth and low-patronage Ferny Grove and Shorncliffe lines getting a capacity increase of 250 per cent and 125 per cent, respectively.
"We haven’t released what the new service plan will look like and there’s still some work to be done, so I think he is a bit premature in presuming he knows all of those answers," Mr Bailey responded.
"With 4½ years to go there is still a lot of planning going on and there’s a lot of different ways you can do a rail system, but we want to make sure we have the best one, so we’re doing a lot of work around that to maximise the wins for commuters."
Mr Bannister referred the project to the Auditor-General last month after receiving no reply to his research from Queensland's Coordinator-General, or the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority.
"I’ve had many people grab me with their own theories around how Cross River Rail should happen and I welcome his contributions," Mr Bailey responded.
"But it is only one of a lot of different perspectives out there, but we are very confident in that project."
This article first appeared on www.brisbanetimes.com.au
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