Three teams shortlisted for Brisbane’s Cross River Rail PPP

QIC, DIF and Plenary Group are among those competing for the $4bn PPP, which Queensland describes as the state’s ‘highest priority’ infrastructure project.

The Queensland government has shortlisted three consortia for the PPP component of Brisbane’s Cross River Rail – a A$5.4 billion ($4.23 billion; €3.43 billion), 10.2km railway link that will pass underneath the Brisbane River and the city’s central business district.

Categorised as the state’s “highest priority infrastructure project”, the Cross River Rail has been split into two packages – with the second and larger component – the Tunnel, Stations and Development package – being procured as a PPP. It includes the construction of a 5.9km tunnel running underneath the Brisbane River and the city’s commercial business district, four new underground stations, an over-station development at Albert Street and an above-ground retail plaza at Roma Street.

The three teams that will be invited to participate in the RFP phase, which the government will launch later this year, are: Pulse, a consortium led by Australia’s CIMIC Group and its subsidiaries and including the Dutch Infrastructure Fund; Qonnect, which includes QIC, Capella Capital and LendLease; and CentriQ Partnerships, a consortium teaming Australia’s Plenary Group with Spain’s Acciona.

In addition to financing and building the tunnel and stations, the winner will operate the facilities for up to 30 years, according to an announcement by Queensland’s Acting Premier Jackie Trad.

The PPP package is expected to include an availability-based project framework, with payment arrangements for the development of tunnel and stations fuelled by significant input from the state. In July 2017, the state committed to fully fund the project, allocating A$2.8 billion from the 2017-18 Budget and a further A$2.6 billion that will be committed in following years.

The second part of the project – the Rail Integration and Systems Alliance – is being delivered under a competitive alliance model, or design-build contract. It will include surface works, such as the design, supply and installation of the supporting rail systems, and integration of the project into the local train network. Two teams have been shortlisted for this package.

“Cross River Rail is a transformational project that will unlock the bottleneck at the core of our transport network and increase its capacity to deliver ‘turn-up-and-go’ public transport,” Trad said.

The industry briefing for the project was attended by over 500 industry representatives in August 2017, followed by the opening for Expressions of Interest in September and an evaluation period that began in November.

Neither a detailed timeline for the tender process nor the estimated value of the PPP contract has been disclosed. Cross River Rail’s project team had not responded to queries by press time. The project is expected to become operational by 2024.