Details of Sunshine Coast rail first stage released

Queensland Rail train at station. | Newsreel
Business case recommends staging of the new Sunshine Coast Rail Line | i Stock

The State Government has outlined details of the staged delivery of the Sunshine Coast Rail Line, with only the section to Caloundra to be completed by 2032.

A business case summary of the project, which is a 37.8km new dual track, narrow gauge line to Maroochydore, has been released providing details about the technical solution, construction challenges and cost estimates.

It is estimated the entire project will cost more than $20 billion, with construction to Birtinya expected to cost $8.4 billion and construction to Maroochydore $12 billion.

The summary document states the full 37.8km line to Maroochydore would take at least a decade and unless the line was built in stages, none of the stations would open to passengers prior to 2032.

Key features of the project were outlined, highlighting:

  • Approximately 17km of rail is raised, including viaducts and 24 bridges, to minimise flooding and environmental impacts, and to pass over local and arterial roads.
  • A 1.2km tunnel at Little Mountain to minimise environmental and community impacts.
  • Six new stations at Nirimba (Aura), Caloundra, Aroona, Birtinya, Mountain Creek and Maroochydore with an upgrade also planned for Beerwah station.
  • Relocation and protection of major utilities such as power, water and sewer.
  • Construction in constrained urban environments.

After considering the length of the corridor, affordability and market capacity, the business case recommended a staged delivery of the line.

The business case evaluated staging to both Caloundra and Birtinya by 2032, ultimately recommending staging to Birtinya.

Although recommended, the summary noted the complex construction and engineering activities in building to Birtinya, presenting risks to the project cost and timeframes, which could prevent the rail line opening by 2032.

Delivery alone between Caloundra and Birtinya is another 7.5km, including 4km of track on viaducts and six bridges, and building a 1.2km tunnel.

Based on this advice, the State Government committed to delivering Stage 1, including building rail to Caloundra by 2032, protecting the revised alignment to Maroochydore, and further planning, environmental investigations and design. Stage One also includes going to market to assess the risk to construction timeframes and costs, for the section from Caloundra to Birtinya.

If fully funded, in partnership with the Australian Government, Stage 1 would see at least 19km built prior to 2032. Stage 1 is expected to cost between $5.5 billion to $7 billion, with cost estimates to be finalised following further design development, market engagement and procurement.

The State Government has committed an initial $2.75 billion to deliver the first stage of the project, which will require matching funding from the Federal Government before works can get underway. Stage 1 works are expected to commence in 2026, targeting completion by 2032.

The Federal Government has previously committed $1.6 billion towards the Sunshine Coast Rail Line. The business case has been issued to Infrastructure Australia for their review and assessment. The State Government said the full business case could not be released as it contained information that was commercial in confidence.

The business case summary can be read online.