Beyond the city: misconceptions around Cross River Rail

Associate Professor Matthew Burke, from Griffith University's Urban Research Program
Associate Professor Matthew Burke

One of Australia’s leading transport experts believes significant misconceptions prevail around Brisbane’s proposed Cross River Rail project.

“Yes, it’s creating new stations downtown and a big new tunnel,” said Associate Professor Matthew Burke, noting that’s often all that’s shown when a map features in the media.

“But the greatest impacts aren’t in the city centre – they’re in increased train frequencies and better travel times for people living in around 140 suburban stations.

“It’s places like Birkdale, Booval and Bald Hills that will finally be able to get decent train frequencies.”

The Queensland Government announced this week is would proceed with the $5.4 billion project with or without help from its federal counterparts, a move that Assoc. Prof Burke said is understandable.

“The timings are such that if we don’t get building soon, and if we get the projected growth in passengers, the rail system will again be plunged into crisis.”

Assoc. Prof Burke, of Griffith’s newly-established Cities Research Institute, added the Commonwealth had changed the goal-posts on the state government.

“This year alone the Federal Budget provided a new competitive rail funding scheme that is still a few years awayand for which there is no surety of funding for Queensland.

“It seemed designed to offer every city the hope of funding for rail and metro systems in a distant future, but without any firm commitment to actually proceed.”

Privatising the public transport network also has major benefits according to Assoc. Professor Burke.

“But the biggest inefficiencies aren’t about who runs the buses and the trains,” he explained.

“It’s instead that so few buses go to train stations. The buses and the trains don’t work together.

“Route and network planning is what will really deliver us more passengers.”