Millions more for Beerwah-Caloundra rail line

THE State Government is committing millions towards further design and planning of the Beerwah to Caloundra rail line as the Federal Government continues to consider whether to plunge billions in commonwealth funding required to make the project happen.

The Miles Labor Government earlier this week announced it would fast-track $5 million to further develop design and planning.

The money will fund geotechnical investigations between Beerwah and Birtinya, to help construct what will be the longest rail spur line in South East Queensland. 

One third of the initial 19km rail line will be built on viaducts and 10 bridges – crossing roads, creeks and the Bruce Highway.

The project team will also install ground water monitoring wells and conduct further environmental investigations. This process will ensure environmental impacts are properly assessed and any impacts mitigated, the government stated.

It will also seek to reduce track curves which are integral to allowing trains to travel faster for longer, with 83 per cent (or 15.8km) of track between Beerwah and Caloundra stations designed to allow speeds of 140km/h or faster. 

This will see passengers travelling between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane at least 46 minutes faster.

The Miles Government will also start directly engaging with the construction industry on the tender process for Direct Sunshine Coast Rail line.

This next step, known as market sounding, ensures companies have the expertise, workforce capacity and readiness to deliver the massive, multi-billion dollar rail project.

The Department of Transport and Mains Roads (TMR) has also launched an online portal for businesses to register for upcoming industry engagement sessions. The sessions will provide companies the opportunity to learn more as the project progresses. Contractors and suppliers who register will also get regular updates tailored to their industry.

Direct Sunshine Coast Rail is expected to support thousands of local jobs and create a pipeline of opportunities for the region. Procurement will be guided by the Buy Queensland policy to help ensure local businesses benefit from the project. Buy Queensland has seen more than $64 billion invested in Queensland-registered businesses, since 2017.

While the Miles Government has committed $2.75 billion in funding to deliver Stage 1 of the project from Beerwah to Caloundra, this is subject to matched funding from the Federal Government.

Infrastructure Minister, Catherine King, said more would be revealed in the upcoming federal budget.

“We’re working our way through the request of the Queensland Government in the upcoming budget, and Infrastructure Australia is assessing the best case for Sunshine Coast direct rail,” she said recently.

“Of course we already have $1.6 billion on the table for Sunshine Coast rail, but I’m not going to pre-empt budget decisions.”

Member for Caloundra, Jason Hunt, said the line construction would put Queensland businesses and employees “front and centre”.

“Delivery will take a workforce with expertise from across the construction industry from engineers to architects and manufacturers, builders and truckdrivers.

“The Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line will offer opportunities for students to complete local apprenticeships in the booming rail and construction industries, encouraging talent to grow and stay in South East Queensland.

“The Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line will support thousands of jobs during construction and ongoing operation and maintenance of the line after construction means secure jobs well into the future.”