Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Brisbane Underground - half-baked or innovative?

Not the Brisbane Underground
Thanks to political ineptitude from successive federal and state governments, Cross River Rail as we known it is deceased. This is very disappointing for a plan that has been recognised as being one of Australia's most important infrastructure projects, has clear economic benefits, and is almost ready to proceed.

However, Queensland premier Campbell Newman has been reported to be devising a cut price alternative plan, known as the "Brisbane Underground". Little is known about this project other than:

  • It will be a North South Rail Line, as per Cross River Rail.
  • It is likely to be based on a "cheaper" George Street alignment instead of a more "central"Albert Street" alignment.
  • It will take advantage of George and William Street precinct redevelopments. 
  • It is likely to be combined with a bus tunnel.
It should be noted that Cross River Rail was the result of an in-depth review into multiple alignments, and George Street was not one of the short listed alignments. However, this was before Campbell Newman's plans to redevelop the end of George Street. This brings a potential new catchment to this "rather close to the river" alignment, and may allow for more partnership and funding from the private sector to reduce costs. Apparently, under George Street is easier to tunnel too. 

BrizCommuter doubts that there is currently need for a combined bus tunnel, as current SE Busway congestion could be simply solved by a more efficient and better designed bus network (as per TransLink's bus network review abandoned by transport minister Scott Emerson). However, this forward thinking by a state government must be commended. 

It will be interesting to see how these plans develop. With Abbott's road centric spending, there may be more state funds available for urban rail. Whilst the new plans must cut costs, they must not significantly cut benefits (as occurred with the ill-thought out Cleveland Solution). It will be interesting to see how this plan develops, but action will need to take place very soon due to the impeding George and William Street redevelopments, and impending congestion crisis. 


  1. I disagree with your opinion that there isn't currently a need for a combined bus/rail tunnel in this new plan.

    As a regular commuter who catches a bus along this part of George Street, it regularly gets congested, particularly of an afternoon. This is due to a number of factors, including the narrowness of this part of George street and the lack of space for several buses to stop at one time, coupled with the fact that several buses do arrive at around the same times due to being delayed by traffic. This is made even worse when there are cars still parked in the bus zones from earlier in the afternoon.

    If this new combined rail/bus tunnel removes these buses from the streets in this part of the CBD, it would improve conditions greatly for both transit passengers and cars.

  2. We could have had a tunnel taking buses from the city to an underground hub under the cultural centre well over ten years ago except the then inept transport Minister, Vaughn Johnson knocked it on the head. He was also the one who okayed plans for the current busway station at CC without any provision for buses to pull in and drop off passengers - resulting in great long lines of buses snakeing over the victoria bridge and well into Adelaide st and the Queen St Bus station (remember those?). The incoming Beattie govt had to fix up that mess.

    Newman's combined underground plan would work only if the network review put up by translink had been adopted or is adopted in the future (personally I don't think the current govt has dropped it for good). Currently the network is still a shambolic joke.

  3. Some interesting reading from todays Sydney Morning Herald.

  4. Do you think running the underground along George St as opposed to Albert St limits the networks effectiveness? Seems all rail/sub-stations are on the peripheral of the CBD rather than targeting the central core areas of current retail/commercial activity. Any thoughts?

  5. Translink just put up information about the second part of their review changes. All about cutting back services or cutting out services. Lots of guff about improving efficeny etc. But All I can see is that they made an already troubled network worse. Time to get Council out of public transport provision.


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