Underground track installation has been completed along all sections of Cross River Rail’s twin tunnels, marking a huge milestone for the transformational project.
Every section of the twin tunnels from Boggo Road in the south to the project’s northern portal – 4.7 kilometres in each tunnel or 9.4 kilometres in total – has been installed.
Only the sections within the underground stations themselves and surface connections to the existing rail network are yet to be completed, which it due to take place this year to complete Cross River Rail’s alignment.
The focus in the tunnels is now on the electrical and mechanical fit out, including installing power and fire safety mechanisms.
After flagging the project was subject to economy wide cost pressures last year, the government has finalised an assessment of cost and supply chain pressures being experienced across the economy on the Cross River Rail project.
Considered analysis of the unprecedented external pressures impacting major projects globally has found Cross River Rail has weathered economy wide headwinds the best of any mega rail/road project in the nation.
While most projects nationwide and in Brisbane have suffered overall cost increases of between 50% and 80%, the Cross River Rail project has limited project cost increases to 17.8%, the lowest percentage increase of a mega transport project in the nation.
Government funding to deliver Cross River Rail will be increased by $960 million, and will include $112 million which was used towards additional land acquisition in the Roma Street station precinct, bringing the total project cost to $6.3 billion.
These same pressures have also had a minor impact on the timing of the project, with the first revenue services originally expected to commence in 2025 to now start one quarter later.
“This year we’re really starting to see Cross River Rail come to life as the project hits milestone after milestone,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.
“To now have tracks installed in all sections of Cross River Rail’s twin tunnels – which will become the arteries of our new rail network – is incredibly exciting, and means this transformational project is yet another step closer to reality,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.
“At its peak, more than 80 people – including nine apprentices – working day and night shifts were involved in installing track in the tunnels, and the tremendous progress so far is a credit to those workers and the wider Cross River Rail team of more than 3000 workers.
“High impact, low probability impacts including the COVID global pandemic, consecutive La Niña weather events and the war in Ukraine have impacted the supply and costs of materials and labour all at the same time – a scenario no one could reasonably have foreseen ahead of construction in 2019.
“The fact we were able to keep our sites operational during the COVID-19 pandemic, unlike similar projects in other states, meant we have been able to maintain construction momentum and help minimise impacts,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.
“We’ve been flagging since August last year Cross River Rail is not immune from the pressures being faced by major infrastructure projects here in Australia and around the world.
“We have done everything possible to mitigate these unavoidable impacts further, including pre-purchasing rail, materials and steel to protect from further price increases and ensure supply.
“At the same time, we’ve undertaken a rigorous and thorough assessment of cost impacts and conducted some firm and considered negotiations with our major contractors in order to isolate the additional investment required to offset the inevitable impact of these global events,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.
“While the need for additional funding has been unavoidable, a 17.8% per cent increase on a mega project like Cross River Rail is significantly lower than the huge increases in costs that we’re seeing confirmed on other projects like the Brisbane Metro and projects interstate.
“All we have to do is look down the road at the Brisbane Metro project, which is only a bus project, where the cost has increased by more than 80 per cent,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.
“The Cross River Rail percentage increase has been less than a quarter of the increase of the Brisbane Metro cost in the same location.
“The review has seen a new integrated schedule implemented, with first revenue services now expected to commence one quarter later than originally anticipated,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.
“Everyone involved in bringing Cross River Rail to life – from the Government agencies involved to the contractors building it – have worked closely to set this new schedule, which brings with it a strong sense of unity and certainty moving forward.
“We know from other projects that integrating delivery partners and leaving a suitable and safe period for testing is critical for successful operation,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.
“This is a complex mega project spanning 17 worksites involving new tunnels, new stations and a new signalling system, which all need to knit back into an existing rail network.
“Two project sites are already complete at Yeronga station and Mayne Yard North with many other sites very advanced.
“Various aspects of delivery have been unavoidably delayed by supply chain issues and escalation, and it makes sense to allow extra time now to make sure that everything works as it should, and operates safely, before passenger services commence,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey.
Image source: © Cross River Rail Delivery Authority 2023
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