Malcolm Turnbull should use next Monday’s opening of the long-awaited Moreton Bay Rail project to restore Federal funding for Brisbane’s Cross River Rail Link, rather than simply using the event as a picture opportunity.
The 12.6km passenger rail extension to Redcliffe was funded by the former Federal Labor Government and the Queensland State Government in 2010.
It will reduce traffic congestion by providing a new public transport option for thousands of residents on Brisbane’s north.
While Mr Turnbull and his ministers are already claiming credit for Moreton Bay Rail, the Liberal Party opposed funding when it was announced in 2010, with then candidate for Petrie, Dean Teasdale, telling ABC radio: “now is not the time’’ to invest in the line.
The Federal Coalition also cut the project’s funding by $159 million in its 2014 Budget, leading to delays in its completion.
Since taking office, Mr Turnbull has frequently invited the media to photograph him riding on trains, trams and buses.
But despite his zeal to be associated with public transport, he has failed to deliver new funding for major public transport projects including the Cross River Rail project, which was pronounced ready to proceed by the independent Infrastructure Australia in 2013.
Cross River Rail is urgently needed to provide a second railway crossing over the Brisbane River in the Brisbane CBD before the existing Merivale Bridge reaches full capacity within the next few years.
Failure to act now risks allowing traffic congestion to begin to act as a hand brake on Queensland’s economic growth.
Earlier this year, Infrastructure Australia warned that traffic congestion would cost the nation $53 billion a year in lost productivity by 2031 unless we act now.
Mr Turnbull should act by committing to Cross River Rail next Monday.