Infrastructure Australia rejects $4.3bn Cross River Rail

The advisory body says the costs for the Queensland project are ‘likely to exceed its benefits’.

Infrastructure Australia, an independent infrastructure advisory body, has rejected Queensland’s current proposal for the Cross River Rail project.

The advisory body concluded that “the benefits of the proposed project, as set out in the business case, are significantly overstated, and the costs of the project as currently presented are likely to exceed its benefits”.

The Cross River Rail project, with an estimated cost of A$5.4 billion ($4.32 billion; €3.66 billion), comprises a 10.2km rail line from Dutton Park to Bowen Hills, twin underground tunnels and new underground stations, which aim to provide additional transportation capacity into and through the city of Brisbane. A PPP model is proposed for delivery of the tunneling and station development. 

The advisor has found the rail patronage growth projections and the estimated project benefits “unrealistically high”, adding the projected rail patronage growth in the business case is seven times faster than the actual growth in Brisbane over the past decade and 2.5 times that of comparable projects in larger Australian cities.

“Infrastructure Australia first raised concerns with the Queensland government about the business case for Cross River Rail in July 2016. To date, the issues we raised have not been fully addressed,” said Philip Davies, chief executive of the advisory body. 

The project will remain on Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Priority List, but the current proposal is rejected for priority funding. The advisor said it would consider a revised business case from the state government with its concerns about the assumptions and projections addressed.