Screenshot image courtesy of Department of Transport and Main Roads
Screenshot image courtesy of Department of Transport and Main Roads Department of Transport and Main Roads

Transport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe has put to rest commuters’ anxiety over a possible fare increase to raise funding for the $5.2 billion Cross River Rail project. During a budget hearing Tuesday , Hinchliffe ruled out fare hike as among the potential sources of funding for the construction of a 10.2-kilometre rail that links Dutton Park to Bowen Hills in Brisbane.

"Our project is about making sure that we increase the patronage of the public transport network and we have identified that fares and affordability have been a challenge in that space and that is why we have made the very big decision to introduce our fairer fares packages which delivers a significantly outcome for transport users now and into the longer term," he said.

"And I certainly don't think that in the contemplation of the range of different issues that the federal government require us to contemplate in relation to value capture for major projects like cross river rail that we would be contemplating the use of a, some sort of extra levy or increase in fares to deliver that,” he added.

The Cross River Rail also includes a 5.9-kilometre tunnel under the Brisbane River that will connect to the Brisbane central business district. Once constructed, the new rail line will have stations at Boggo Road, Woolloongabba, Albert Street, Roma Street, and Exhibition.

Procurement of the project contractor is originally set between mid-2016 to late 2017. Construction is targeted to start by early 2018 and commercial operations will commence by 2023.

According to the Queensland government, the proposed Cross River Rail will be a vital transportation system starting 2021 when the Merivale Bridge reaches capacity, and later by 2036 when population of South East Queensland is forecasted to reach 4.9 million. Without the project, excessive crowding on the northern and southern lines will be felt by 2016.

“Through the delivery of Cross River Rail, most destination precincts in the Brisbane CBD will be within a 10 minute walk of an inner city station,” the Department of Transport and Main Roads said.

“Critical to supporting the growth of our state, easing congestion and improving accessibility into the Brisbane CBD, Cross River Rail is the Queensland Government’s highest priority infrastructure project,” it added.