Sunshine Coast Airport was left off the preferred route in a business case for a fast rail link between the region and Brisbane.
Sunshine Coast Airport was left off the preferred route in a business case for a fast rail link between the region and Brisbane.

Airport, Nambour left off ‘best’ fast rail route

A shortlist of four options to build a fast rail connection between the Coast and Brisbane was whittled down to exclude Nambour and the region's airport, new documents reveal.

Infrastructure Australia has released a review of a detailed business case put forward by a private consortium to bring rail travel time to the state's capital down to 50 minutes.

The shortlist included:

- Brisbane to Maroochydore CBD using the existing North Coast Line alignment to Beerwah and the corridor identified in the Caboolture to Maroochydore Corridor Study (CAMCOS) for the section from Beerwah to Maroochydore

- Brisbane to Sunshine Coast Airport using the existing North Coast Line alignment to Beerwah and CAMCOS

- Brisbane to Sunshine Coast Airport using the North West Transport Corridor and CAMCOS

- Brisbane to Nambour and Sunshine Coast Airport using the North West Transport Corridor, existing North Coast Line to Nambour and CAMCOS

A 60-minute option using the North Coast Line and CAMCOS corridor to Maroochydore as well as a 45-minute option using faster rail to Sunshine Coast Airport via the North West Transport Corridor, joining the North Coast Line south of Pine River to Beerwah and on to the CAMCOS corridor were then developed.

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Neither of them rated highly on a cost to benefit ratio but the 60-minute option was developed further as it performed better on that scale.

Its features included a stand-alone track between Northgate and Maroochydore stations, 650m of tunnels including a tunnel at Little Mountain, 22.7km in new rail bridges and new stations at Caloundra, Kawana and Maroochydore.

The track would carry a six-car tilt train about 145m in length and capable of reaching speeds of 165km/h.

Infrastructure Australia's review of the business case found some aspects of the economic appraisal were overstated while other aspects were deemed conservative.

"Our evaluation found that the public transport benefits are smaller than the benefits to road users," the review read.

"For a significant investment in rail project such as this, it would be expected that high public transport benefits would be achieved.

"Moreover, the economic appraisal does not appear to have explicitly captured benefits associated with reduced crowding, which does not align to the problems of a capacity constrained rail network."

Infrastructure Australia has left the project off its priority funding list but has invited a revised business case for further consideration.



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