The federal government is to provide funding for a South East Queensland fast rail business case. It aims to connect commuters in the region while preventing the urban sprawl which blights city life. The plan is for a commuting time of only 35 minutes between the capital, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast. This is in addition to preparations for fast rail plans for Brisbane to Toowoomba and Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast north of the capital city.
The Morrison government’s initiative is part of a $40 million nationwide plan for five business cases to vivify regional centres and relieve pressure on cities.
South East Queensland (SEQ) is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. Its current population of around 3.4 million is projected to increase by more than 50% (1.8 million) by year 2041. Supported by Queensland councils, the Brisbane newspaper, The Courier Mail, has campaigned for long-term rail improvements such as is being proposed for the Brisbane to Gold Coast line. In addition to better, faster commuting for the populace the line is seen as infrastructure crucial to SEQ’s bid for the 2032 Olympic Games.
The Prime Minister is proposing a new National Fast Rail Agency to guide and ascertain priorities for his 20-year fast rail plan. To fast track the building of the new fast rail networks public-private partnerships are likely to be entered into by the Government. Prime Minister Morrison has said that fast rail networks are essential in shaping the nation’s future and, by easing congestion, making travel easier and more economically viable for future commuters. He argues that policies like congestion-reducing infrastructure, combined with lowering the migrant cap, introducing new visas and creating incentives for migrants to work and live in regional area which need their skills, are crucial to tackling the nation’s population challenges.
The local Member for the Fairfax electorate has said the SEQ region will be modernised by the fast rail network short-listed by the Morrison government. He observes that transport solutions such as fast rail are needed which can connect distinct, spread-out communities because the area is unlike that of the major southern cities and morphing into one, vast entity like Sydney and Melbourne was undesirable. Forward planning was thereby necessary to make sure that transport infrastructure stays ahead of a burgeoning population.