The Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line is a step closer to construction as Queensland commits $2.75B in funding

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The new 37.8km heavy rail connection is on track for construction, with an investment of $2.75b to deliver Stage 1 of Queensland’s Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line project.

  • The Miles Government is investing in region-shaping infrastructure to directly connect the Sunshine Coast’s growth areas to South East Queensland’s rail network.
  • The Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line will provide a fast, reliable and sustainable connection between the Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay and Brisbane.
  • First stage cost estimate is $5.5 billion to $7 billion.
  • Business case has been submitted to Infrastructure Australia for assessment.
  • Initial Queensland Government commitment of $2.75 billion will require matching funding from the Federal Government to enable construction by 2032. The Federal Government has already committed $1.6 billion.
  • Will help to unlock more than 3000 affordable homes on the Sunshine Coast.

A new heavy rail connection is tracking towards construction on the Sunshine Coast, that will make a trip to Brisbane at least 45 minutes faster than a car.

The Miles Government is committing an initial $2.75 billion to deliver Stage 1 of the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line project, which includes protection of the updated rail alignment all the way to Maroochydore.

Video Source: TMR via YouTube

The first stage will see a 19 km dual track built from Beerwah to Caloundra, the longest spur line in the south-east passenger network.

Staged delivery will see the line ultimately run to Birtinya and Maroochydore. This will deliver faster rail to the Sunshine Coast, with trains able to reach speeds of 140km per hour on some sections of the track.

“A direct rail connection to the Sunshine Coast will unlock thousands of homes in the growing Sunshine Coast region and accelerate the release of new, affordable developments,” says Queensland Premier Steven Miles.

“Without the rail line, that development would bring an unmanageable level of congestion to the local road network, making this connection essential for new housing to be brought forward,” says Queensland Premier Steven Miles.

“The Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line is another record investment in Queensland’s rail network from our government, building on the multi-billion dollar rail revolution currently underway,” says Queensland Premier Steven Miles.

Video Source: 7News Australia via YouTube

“Through to Cross River Rail, we are removing the bottleneck in Brisbane’s CBD and creating opportunities to provide better rail services to some of South East Queensland’s fastest growing regions,” says Queensland Premier Steven Miles.

“With better, more connected rail options available we hope commuters will leave the car at home, reducing congestion and lowering transport emissions on the path to net zero,” says Queensland Premier Steven Miles.

The Beerwah to Caloundra stage could be operational in time for Brisbane 2032, subject to a matched funding agreement from the Federal Government.

The Sunshine Coast is one of the fastest growing regions in the state, and is forecast to be home to 600,000 people by 2046.

“The Sunshine Coast has a growing economy and approximately 11 million annual visitors who currently rely on private vehicles, so this project will make it easier and faster to work, holiday, or travel to see friends and family,” says Deputy Premier and Treasurer Cameron Dick.

“The Miles Government that can deliver this transformation, thanks to the strength of our budget and the capacity enabled by our investment in Cross River Rail,” says Deputy Premier and Treasurer Cameron Dick.

“We look forward to the Federal Government hopping on board to match our commitment, so we can deliver this project, not just for 2032 but for decades to come,” says Deputy Premier and Treasurer Cameron Dick.

Modelling shows most of the population growth will be concentrated along the first stage of the rail line, around Caloundra South (Aura).

“Direct Sunshine Coast Rail will revolutionise public transport – making a trip to from Caloundra to Brisbane at least 45 minutes faster than a car,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Bart Mellish.

“For the first time, residents in the region will have a direct, fast and reliable connection to the South-East. Direct Sunshine Coast Rail will not only help ease congestion, but also help unlock future housing development on the Sunshine Coast,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Bart Mellish.

“Sunny Coast residents will also get another first – a direct rail journey to the AFL or the Ekka, thanks to Cross River Rail. No station change needed. Suncorp Stadium will also be just a short walk from Roma Street,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Bart Mellish.

“The project will also deliver cleaner and greener transport for a more sustainable Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and provide a lasting legacy for these communities,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Bart Mellish.

Stage 1 of the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line will be a significant enabler for new housing, including supply for 50,000 people at Caloundra South and up to 100,000 people at Beerwah East.

It’s expected the initial stage of the project will accelerate the delivery of more than 3,000 affordable and diverse homes already planned within the region.

“Expanding the South East Queensland rail network with this direct line will benefit Queenslanders well into the future,” says Member for Caloundra Jason Hunt.

“This rail line will connect people on the Sunshine Coast to Moreton Bay and Brisbane for work, medical appointments, sporting and cultural events,” says Member for Caloundra Jason Hunt.

“We are committed to maintaining the liveability of the Sunshine Coast region. Direct Sunshine Coast Rail will help to support sustainable growth that ensures that we spend less time in traffic, and more time doing the things that we love,” says Member for Caloundra Jason Hunt.

The funding envelope for Stage 1 is expected to be between $5.5 billion and $7 billion, with final costs to be confirmed at the completion of the procurement phase.

A ‘funding envelope’ is an approach taken on other similar projects around the world, allowing costs to be finalised when contracts are executed.

It’s expected that Stage 1 of project will support 2,200 good jobs in the region.

Click here to read more about the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line project.

Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line business case summary released

The Queensland Government has published a summary of the business case for the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line, releasing new details about the project. The summary includes further information about the technical solution, construction challenges and cost estimates.

The proposed line to Maroochydore is 37.8km of new dual track, narrow gauge rail line through greenfield and highly urbanised environments.

Other features include:

  • Approximately 17 kilometres of rail is raised including viaducts and 24 bridges, to minimise flooding and environmental impacts, and to pass over local and arterial roads.
  • A 1.2 kilometre tunnel at Little Mountain to minimise environmental and community impacts.
  • Six new stations at Nirimba (Aura), Caloundra, Aroona, Birtinya, Mountain Creek and Maroochydore with an upgrade also planned for Beerwah station.
  • Relocation and protection of major utilities such as power, water and sewer.
  • Construction in constrained urban environments.

Project cost estimates have also been released for each stage, with construction to Birtinya expected to cost approximately $8.4 billion and construction to Maroochydore approximately $12 billion.

The summary document confirms that construction of the full 37.8 kilometre rail line to Maroochydore would take at least a decade. It also shows that unless the line was built in stages, none of the stations would open to passengers prior to 2032.

The business case recommends a staged delivery of the rail line. Staging takes into account the length of the corridor, affordability and market capacity. Building in stages will not only open sections of the rail line years earlier, but creates a progressive pipeline of thousands of local jobs and helps ease construction impacts on the local community.

The business case tested staging to both Calounda and Birtinya by 2032, ultimately recommending staging to Birtinya. Although recommended, the summary notes the complex construction and engineering activities in building to Birtinya, presenting risks to the project cost and timeframes, which could prevent the rail line opening by 2032. Delivery alone between Caloundra and Birtinya is another 7.5km, including 4km of track on viaducts and 6 bridges, and building a 1.2km tunnel.

Based on this advice, the Miles Government has committed to delivering Stage 1, including building rail to Caloundra by 2032, protecting the revised alignment to Maroochydore, and further planning, environmental investigations and design. The corridor to Caloundra requires zero homes to be resumed.

Stage One also includes going to market to test the risk to construction timeframes and costs, for the section from Caloundra to Birtinya. If fully funded, in partnership with the Australian Government, Stage 1 would see at least 19km built prior to 2032 – more than half the rail line.

Stage 1 is expected to cost between $5.5 billion to $7 billion, with cost estimates to be finalised following further design development, market engagement and procurement.

“Direct Sunshine Coast Rail will change the way people travel – making a trip from Caloundra to Brisbane at least 45 minutes faster than a car in peak,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Bart Mellish.

“With the number of trips on the Bruce Highway set to increase by 49% by 2046, residents in the region need a direct, fast and reliable connection to the South-East,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Bart Mellish.

“Direct Sunshine Coast Rail will not only help ease congestion, but will also help unlock future housing development on the Sunshine Coast,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Bart Mellish.

“Stage One alone involves building 19km of track. 7km of that track is elevated rail on viaducts, including 10 bridges, crossing roads, creeks and the Bruce Highway.

“Stage two is even more complex, involving construction of another 7.5km of track between Caloundra and Birtinya, including a 1.2km tunnel at Little Mountain.

“Again, 4km of that is elevated rail on viaducts including 6 bridges, due to the number of creek crossings and low-lying terrain. So we will require further advice from leading infrastructure construction companies on the approach, materials and timeframes to deliver this section of the line,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Bart Mellish.

“The Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line is another record investment in Queensland’s rail network from our government, building on the multi-billion dollar rail revolution currently underway.

“Through the delivery of Cross River Rail, we are removing the bottleneck in Brisbane’s CBD and creating opportunities to provide better rail services to some of South East Queensland’s fastest growing regions,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Bart Mellish.

“With better, more connected rail options available we hope commuters will leave the car at home, reducing congestion and lowering transport emissions on the path to net zero,” says Transport and Main Roads Minister Bart Mellish.

The Miles Government has committed an initial $2.75 billion to deliver the first stage of the project, which will require matching funding from the Federal Government before works can get underway. Stage 1 works are expected to commence in 2026, targeting completion by 2032. The Federal Government has previously committed $1.6 billion towards the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line. The business case has been issued to Infrastructure Australia for their review and assessment.

The full business case cannot be released as it contains information that is commercial in confidence.  Releasing the full business case would prejudice the procurement process, and could influence commercial negotiations.

Click here to read the business case summary.

Source: © The State of Queensland

Fast facts:

  • The Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line is a proposed 37.8km rail extension between Beerwah and Maroochydore to increase public transport opportunities and improve connectivity to Moreton Bay, Brisbane and beyond.
  • The detailed business case has determined an optimal realignment of the corridor between Beerwah and Maroochydore, which enables rail speeds of up 160km/h. The current trains can and do travel 140km/h, their maximum speed.
  • The realignment aims to minimise environmental impact and reduce curves in the line to allow for faster train speeds. The new corridor will be protected in 2024.
  • Over 80% of community feedback received during community consultation in 2023 were supportive of Direct Sunshine Coast Rail, helping inform the business case.

Source: © The State of Queensland 1997–2024

Image Source: © The State of Queensland 1997–2024

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