State Government announces $5 Billion for underground bus/train (UBAT)

Brisbanites will have access to an innovative double decker public transport tunnel which will accommodate both rail and busway services under the new “UBAT” (underground busway and train) tunnel. The project is budgeted at $5 billion, around $3 billion less than the previous Cross River Rail proposal.

Premier Campbell Newman announced the Underground Bus and Train project, a 5.4 kilometre tunnel with two train lines in the lower section and two busway lanes in the upper section.

“We’ve taken two of Brisbane’s major congestion challenges – the Merivale train bridge and the Cultural Centre bus precinct – and come up with an affordable and elegant solution.

“The project we are announcing today delivers the public transport services needed for the next 50 years.

“A single 15-metre-wide tunnel will be built, requiring the largest borer ever used in Australia – almost two metres wider than the Clem7 and Airport Link tunnels.”

Mr Newman said a public competition would be held early in the New Year to come up with a name for the project.

Lobby group Rail Back on Track described the UBAT plan as exciting and welcome news, but spokesperson Robert Dow said it must be constructed with future capacity demands in mind.

“For example, new rail stations should be constructed in a space to allow nine car trains, and the bus tunnel segment must be of such size to allow rail or light rail modifications down the track,” Mr Dow said.

“Future proofing is essential, there will be only one chance to get it right.”

National industry group The Tourism and Transport Forum said the UBAT would be a world first that would future proof Brisbane’s public transport system.

The tunnel would go underground at Dutton Park in the south to Victoria Park in the north. There will be new stations at Woolloongabba, one under the new entertainment and casino precinct on George Street, servicing QUT and another station under Roma St.

“This will be a major economic boost, creating hundreds of jobs and new pathways for business to grow and develop in Brisbane,” Mr Nicholls said.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform Brisbane into a world city with a public transport system to match,” Mr Emerson said.

“This city has had two groups of engineers working on two solutions for two major issues.

“The Newman Government and the Brisbane City Council have got our heads together and come up with a solution.”

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said cooperation between the State and Council led to an innovative solution that advanced multiple transportation deficiencies.

“When completed, the project will result in significant travel time savings across the suburbs.

“The CBD and adjacent suburbs will need to accommodate an additional 130,000 workers in the next 20 years and we need to improve public transport capacity to accommodate this growth by improving the network.

The project will now pass to the Coordinator-General to assess the environmental impacts. Resumptions will include Dutton Park train station, however only minor impacts on other properties are expected.

There were 108 residents and businesses affected by the former Cross River Rail project – including  82 properties in the Yeerongpilly area – that will no longer be resumed.

Early works are expected to start in 2015 and be completed by 2021. Further information will be available at www.tmr.qld.gov.au/ubat