IPSWICH commuters will have to wait at least another six years before work starts on the local network’s long-awaited rail extensions.
The extension to the Ipswich rail network, including connecting Ipswich to Springfield and Redbank Plains, has been repeatedly promised by the Labor State Government.
Now, it has confirmed work will not start until after 2024, with the Government claiming “the extension(s) rely on the completion of Cross River Rail”.
That has been vehemently disputed by Ipswich Rail Advocate Robert Dow, who says work on the extensions should start immediately before the lack of transport infrastructure hits crisis point.
The Palaszczuk Government said this month it remained committed to the extension of the Springfield line and had set aside land for a future passenger rail.
But the Department of Main Roads did not say when the works would start and gave no budget details or an explanation as to why these extensions related to the city-centric Cross River Rail project.
Cross River Rail is a Brisbane CBD rail project that includes a 10.2km rail line between Dutton Park and Bowen Hills with a twin tunnel under the Brisbane River.
The inner-city transport project is due to be finished in 2024.
A spokesperson for the Palaszczuk Government said Cross River Rail would “provide the necessary capacity to expand the rail network, it is the key to unclog the bottleneck on our rail network and deliver additional services”.
According to a statement issued last year by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, Cross River Rail will deliver new links to Flagstone and Ripley.
Rail Back on Track advocate Robert Dow said the Ipswich extensions could, and should, go ahead independent of Cross River Rail.
“The lines can simply be extended out to Redbank Plains and Ripley,” Mr Dow said.
“The roads are failing badly and there is a massive amount of development happening along that corridor. We need to get more people on to public transport and off the roads. The only way to do that is have public transport.
“Redbank Plains is one of the fastest growing residential areas in this country. This is just nonsense.
“We have consistently been far too late in matching our infrastructure needs to actual growth.”
What Main Roads said
“The Ipswich to Springfield Future Public Passenger Transport Corridor has been preserved since 2009 following extensive community consultation.
The corridor is also identified as a future rail corridor in strategic documents such as SEQ Rail Horizon and Shaping SEQ.
Transport and Main Roads is undertaking a study to review and update rail corridor planning in response to surrounding land use.
The required timing of the extension will be determined as part of a broader rail network investment strategy.
It will consider factors such as whole of network train operating strategies and capacity constraints, as well as population growth along corridors and associated demand forecasts, particularly in peak periods when demand is at its highest.
Redbank Plains’ road network is mostly council.”
Originally Published: www.qt.com.au
Rail line grows three times faster than state average
THE number of passengers travelling on Springfield’s rail line has grown almost three times faster than the state network average.
In a glimmer of good news for Ipswich’s public transport situation, new data shows 1.09 million passengers travelled on the Richlands Springfield Central line in the 2017-18 financial year.
Springfield Central was the most popular station, with 482,913 passengers.
Rail Back on Track spokesman Robert Dow said the figures were good news for Ipswich’s busy eastern corridor.
“It’s good people are using the system and it adds momentum for improvements to the bus network to get people to and from the station,” he said.
Since the 2016-17 financial year, patronage across the state’s rail network has grown 3.36 per cent.
Growth at Springfield Central has outstripped the average by recording an 8.13 per cent increase.
“Springfield looks good,” Mr Dow said.
While passenger numbers are positive at Springfield, other rail lines remain underutilised, Mr Dow said.
“It’s been pretty bad on the Ipswich-Rosewood line,” he said.
In the previous financial year, 1.77 million passengers used the line.
It was the first time in five years the network has recorded an increase in growth after a steady decline in numbers from a height of 2.1 million in 2012-13.
Mr Dow puts the most recent increase partly down to a new fare structure and regional growth.
“The population is increasing generally and people at Redbank Plains and places like that are driving to the Ipswich rail line,” he said.
Mr Dow said improvements still needed to be made on the region’s bus network.
He said park ‘n’ ride facilities at stops along the network were at capacity. Ipswich Station had the highest passenger fall, with 23,389 people deserting the track.
Redbank was the most improved station, with passenger numbers growing about 19,000 on the previous year, to 229,145.
“It’s good to see Rosewood has got growth – people are starting to use the Ipswich to Rosewood line,” Mr Dow said.
He said the passenger number information should be made free on the Translink website.
“TMR should make this sort of data available,” he said. “Having to pay $48 for this is fairly outrageous.”
Queensland’s $46 Billion Infrastructure Boom
The Palaszczuk Government has released an update to its 2018 State Infrastructure Plan as it aims to roll-out a total of $45.8 billion worth of infrastructure over the next four years.
The second part of its State Infrastructure Plan (SIP) focuses on a range of infrastructure spending with its updated release, outlining the $11.6 billion of infrastructure investment to be rolled out in 2018-19, which aims to support up to 38,000 jobs.
Economic forecaster Deloitte Access Economics said that the outlook for engineering construction in Queensland is better than it has been for some time.
“Rather than wallowing in cash from a strong property market and asset privatisations as NSW and Victoria are, the Government is relying more heavily on raising new tax revenue and increasing debt to fund this infrastructure,” Deloitte’s quarterly Business Outlook report said.
Up to 65 per cent of the Queensland’s infrastructure budget is allocated outside of the greater Brisbane area, explained Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick.
“Programs like the Queensland Transport Roads and Investment Program 2018-19 to 2021-22 outlines $21.7 billion in transport and road infrastructure over the next four years, estimated to support an average of 19,200 direct jobs over the life of the program.
The $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project, the biggest state funded infrastructure commitment in more than a decade, will be delivered in partnership with the private sector, explains Dick.
Infrastructure Association of Queensland chief executive Steve Abson said the infrastructure investment strategies update provides the private sector with confidence to invest in their Queensland operations.
With it now required to be “actioned collaboratively by all levels of government and the private sector”.
Seven new projects have been added to the Building Queensland (BQ) infrastructure pipeline, including upgrades to the centenary motorway and Sunshine Motorway, and a third track to be added to the Gold Coast rail line between Kuraby and Beenleigh.
BQ Infrastructure Pipeline Report which presents priority infrastructure proposals under development by the Queensland government, shows 18 proposals from the pipeline has received funding commitments from state government since June 2016.
These include upgrades to the M1 from Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill, and Varsity Lakes to Tugan, the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade, the Lower Fitzroy River Infrastructure Project and the New Performing Arts Venue.
A rise in interstate migration is seeing more people moving to Queensland, according to the Deloitte’s Business Outlook report, which says the sunshine state now has the third-fastest rate of population growth behind Victoria and the ACT.
The report said that Queensland is “well and truly” through the worst of its mining construction downturn as eye-watering house prices south of the border are sending more “economic refugees north to Queensland”.
Five Ipswich public high schools to get new classrooms
The State Government will commit $250 million over two years in the State Budget to build additional classrooms at more than 60 schools including Bremer, Ipswich State High School, Laidley State High School, Lowood State High School and Springfield.
Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Jackie Trad, said the ‘2020 Ready’ funding boost would support students in more than 60 Queensland high schools across the State.
“Our kids are our future and, as a government, one of the most important things we can do is give Queensland students a world-class education,” Ms Trad said.
“This investment will deliver more classrooms and learning centres to provide the best possible environment for learning.
“Queensland is a fast-growing State and this investment is about planning for the future.”
Education Minister Grace Grace said in 2020, for the very first time in Queensland’s history, high schools would have a full complement of students across Years 7 to 12.
“This infrastructure program is about making sure we are ‘2020 Ready’,” Ms Grace said.
“This $250 million investment will ensure our schools can accommodate the additional 17,000 students expected in our high schools from 2020 and into the future.
“It brings the total funding commitment towards increasing the capacity of state secondary schools to more than $470 million between 2017-18 and 2019-20.”
Ms Grace said the ‘2020 Ready’ program signals the next phase of Queensland’s major education reforms, which started more than a decade ago.
“Queensland’s first intake of Preppies were those whose birthdays were in the first half of the calendar year – so theirs has always been a much smaller cohort of students, known as the ‘half cohort’,” she said.
“Our next educational reform came in 2015, when we moved Year 7 into high school and established six years of secondary education, which was also supported with significant infrastructure investment.
“However, our smaller ‘half cohort’ has been in high school since 2015 too – meaning we have never had the full complement of students across all six year levels in our secondary schools.
“With the original Prep students set to graduate from high school at the end of 2019, we will have – for the very first time – six full year levels of students in Queensland secondary schools from 2020.
“This new $250 million investment for additional classrooms will prepare those schools identified as requiring additional capacity for the additional students expected in 2020.”