Pacific Partnerships-led consortium wins Brisbane Cross River Rail PPP

Pulse consortium fought off competition from QIC and Plenary Group to land the tunnels, stations and development package, which is likely to be worth around A$2.7 billion.

A consortium including CIMIC Group-owned Pacific Partnerships and Ghella Investments & Partnerships has been named preferred bidder for a PPP package on the A$5.4 billion ($3.9 billion; €3.4 billion) Cross River Rail project in Brisbane.

The Queensland Government and the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority made the announcement last week. The Pulse consortium is set to deliver the tunnel, stations and development elements of the scheme in the city on Australia’s east coast.

The PPP contract is likely to be worth approximately A$2.7 billion. However, a spokeswoman for the Queensland Government said that final negotiations over the figure were ongoing.

Pacific Partnerships is the lead sponsor and is providing 49 percent of the equity finance. The remainder will be provided by DIF via its DIF Infrastructure V fund; BAM PPP PGGM, a joint venture between Dutch developer Royal BAM Group and Dutch pension PGGM; and Ghella Investments & Partnerships, an Italian company specialising in tunnelling works.

Other members of the consortium include CPB Contractors and UGL, both CIMIC Group subsidiaries. CPB Contractors will deliver the design and construction in a joint venture with Ghella and BAM International. UGL will deliver the mechanical and electrical works and provide ongoing maintenance services for the project over 24 years.

Cross River Rail will comprise a new 10.2km line running from the Dutton Park, a suburb in south Brisbane, to Bowen Hills, which lies to the north-east of the city centre. It will include a 5.9km twin tunnel under the Brisbane River and the city centre. It is seen as a key transport project in Queensland and is designed to reduce bottlenecks in Brisbane’s rail system.

Final contracts for the PPP agreement are to be signed in mid-2019, with construction set to begin before the end of the year. The project is scheduled to be operational in 2024.

The PPP covers the underground section of the project. This includes a tunnel from Dutton Park to Normanby, which lies to the north-east of the city centre, and the construction of four stations. The Queensland Government will compensate the PPP consortium through availability payments.

Pulse fought off competition from two shortlisted consortia: Qonnect, which comprised QIC, Capella Capital, Lendlease, John Holland and Bouygues; and CentriQ Partnerships, comprising Acciona, Plenary Group, GS Engineering, Salini Impregilo and the Spotless Group.

CIMIC Group has been involved in building a string of major infrastructure projects in Australia in recent years. These include the WestConnex motorway in Sydney, Canberra’s light rail system and the new Melbourne Metro scheme, which contains significant underground elements.