Information about the Inner City Rail Capacity Study is dribbling out. Today’s Courier Mail reports that the state government needs in the order of 14 billion dollars to “save southeast Queensland from rail chaos”. The article goes on to say

The study findings are expected to be released later this year and details are still sketchy. However, options being considered include “doubling of existing capacity by building two dual-track tunnels connected to the existing network by 2026, with other upgrades to the surface network to support freight”.

It’s a sum of money that’s so mind-boggling big it’s hard to comprehend. In scope though, the project is not that different from Melbourne’s underground rail loop of the 1970s. If you think about it, two deep level tunnels under Brisbane River with a number of city stations wouldn’t come cheap.

Can the work be avoided? I doubt it can. Certainly at the moment there are some 21 trains coming off the Gold Coast, Beenleigh and Cleveland lines across the two-track Merivale Bridge then around a sharp curve and through a short tunnel to a flat junction with the lines from the Ipswich line. Factor in a built-over Central Station (with no real room to grow except downwards), suburban rail extensions (Springfield, Coolangatta, Maroochydore, Redcliffe – maybe) and there’s a heck of a lotta trains to handle.

I hope more details on the study are released shortly. It’s so frustrating not being able to discuss things properly.