Problem to be addressed
Capacity issues on the North Coast Line between Beerburrum and Nambour were identified as a priority in the Queensland Government’s Moving Freight strategy, and the 2015 Northern Australia Audit. As Queensland’s major north–south rail corridor, the line facilitates freight and passenger movements between Queensland’s coastal population centres from Brisbane to Cairns. It will also be a key enabler of future public transport developments within the Sunshine Coast.
The Northern Australia Audit forecasted northern Queensland’s population would grow by 1.9% on average per year to 2031, driving an expansion of the freight task along the north–south corridor.
Further to the south, the Sunshine Coast’s population is expected to grow by two-thirds between 2016 and 2041, according to the South East Queensland Regional Plan 2017. The modelling undertaken for the business case suggests that passenger demand on this route could grow by over 3% per annum until 2036.
The existing rail line does not have enough capacity to meet future levels of passenger and freight demand. The route’s configuration as a single track with limited passing loops constrains capacity on the line. Without rail network enhancements, increased commuter movements between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane are likely to significantly increase traffic on the constrained Bruce Highway.
The proposed project is located on the North Coast Line between Beerburrum and Nambour stations. The project involves duplicating the 20 km section from Beerburrum to Landsborough, extending existing passing loops between Landsborough and Nambour, route realignments, level crossing removals, station improvements and supporting works. The proposed upgrade would improve the efficiency of both passenger and freight services, and take pressure off the Bruce Highway.
Economic, social and environmental value
The project would deliver significant economic benefits in the form of travel-time savings, with associated social and environmental benefits including reduced air and noise pollution and lower vehicle crash rates.
The proponent’s stated benefit-cost ratio is 1.5, with a net present value of $262 million (7% real discount rate).