Cross River Rail cost blowout means project doesn’t stack up

Based on recent Courier-Mail reports of a huge cost blowout, the Cross River Rail project could deliver a net loss to the community of around $5 billion, or almost $1,000 for every Queenslander. 

The latest news about the troubled Cross River Rail project is unsurprising to those of us who have long been sceptical of the mega-project (e.g. see my Cross River Rail equals mega-project equals mega-risk from 2016). The Courier-Mail is reporting today that the Board overseeing Cross River Rail is being replaced, suggesting that rumours about a massive cost blowout of an additional $7 billion, as previously reported in the paper’s George St Beat column, are true.

It’s almost certain the project will not stack up from the Queensland community’s perspective. It may benefit some inner-city dwellers and workers, and to a small extent other SEQ rail travellers through a more efficient network, but the benefits to the whole state are insufficient to justify the potential $12 billion cost.

The Cross River Rail Business Case produced by Building Queensland reported net benefits for the project of $1.9 billion out to mid-century (p. E19). An additional $7 billion of costs (just to achieve the same level of gross benefits) would easily wipe out these net benefits. It’s easy to see that, in a worst-case scenario, the project could deliver a net loss to the community of around $5 billion, or $1,000 for every Queenslander.

crr_map

The Cross River Rail route

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