Brisbane Rail Link Opens 130 Years Late

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016
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It took 130 years to get there and then left 20 minutes late but there were no grumbles from commuters as the first train departed on the Redcliffe Peninsula Line.

In fact there was nothing but smiles as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a renowned train enthusiast, boarded the train for the ceremonial service alongside 230 local ballot winners.

The rail link, which covers more than 12 kilometres from Petrie, north of Brisbane, to Kippa Ring, near Redcliffe was proposed in 1885 and plans for its construction were floated many times over the subsequent century.

But it wasn’t until 2010 that then-prime minister Julia Gillard finally put federal funding on the table during that year’s election campaign.

Since then, as Moreton Bay Mayor Allan Sutherland — who dressed in period garb, complete with top hat and bow tie for the occasion — the planning and construction of the $1.2 billion rail link has outlasted four prime ministers and three premiers.

It’s opening has been scheduled for mid-2016 but that was pushed back due to problems with its signalling system.

The prime minister, who officially opened the link alongside Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Mr Sutherland spoke enthusiastically about the effect the rail line would have on the region.

“This rail link … is going to enable so much more amenity, more development, more affordable housing and adds to the strength and the growth of this, one of the fastest growing areas in Australia,” Mr Turnbull said.

He also held the project up as a model for cooperation between state, federal and local governments on infrastructure projects.

However, he remained non-commital on south-east Queensland’s other much talked about rail project: the $4.5 billion Cross River Rail Tunnel.

He said the there was still a lot of work to be done before the federal government could commit to that project.

“It’s important to do the work first. If you take spending taxpayers’ money seriously … you’ve got to do your homework carefully,” he said.

“Writing out cheques … without doing the homework is a good way to waste money. We will be very careful about it.”

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