Companies rush to sign up for Brisbane’s $4.3bn Cross River Rail project

More than a dozen companies have expressed an interest in winning work on a "once in a generation" public-private partnership (PPP) to modernise public transport in the Queensland capital of Brisbane.

The US$4.3bn Cross River Rail scheme consists of a 10.2km link, including a 5.9km tunnel beneath the Brisbane River complete with four underground stations and associated commercial development above and below ground.

The Queensland government said that more than 12 companies met the 22 September deadline to express an interest in the tunnel-and-stations part of the project.

The project is split into two main parts. The Tunnel, Stations and Development (TSD) Package covers the main construction works, and will be delivered as a PPP. The Rail, Integration and Systems Package covers the rail systems and surface projects will be delivered as an alliance.

The teams in the running have not been officially named, however there have been press reports that one consortium is being led by Pacific Partnerships, the project finance arm of CIMIC, which is ultimately a subsidiary of Spanish contractor ACS.

Another team is understood to include John Holland, which is a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company, with PPP investor Capella Capital and Lend Lease Engineering; a third group is made up of Spanish contractor Acciona and Korea’s GS Group with Plenary Group as the infrastructure investor.

Jackie Trad, the Queensland deputy premier and infrastructure minister, commented: "When complete, Cross River Rail will transform our rail network, meaning more trains more often. It will unlock the bottleneck at the centre of the southeast’s transport system, busting congestion for road users and delivering faster travel times for public transport users."

The stations to be built as part of the scheme are Boggo Road, Woolloongabba (aka "The Gabba"), Albert Street and Roma Street. There is also the Exhibition overground station.

Image: The layout of the Cross River Rail system (Government of Queensland)

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