23 Aug Brisbane 25: Nerang to Brisbane in 25 minutes, just a dream for commuters, or a feasible possibility?
As the crow flies, to get from Nerang on the Gold Coast to Brisbane CBD, it should take you 52 minutes to travel 72.1 km in the car.
Which, for a lunch date seems fairly realistic.
But, as anyone who’s ever travelled to Brisbane from the Gold Coast in peak hour traffic can attest, that figure, for the most part, is wholly unrealistic.
Who starts work in Brisbane at 8.30 and leaves their home at 7.38?
Who leaves the office at 5 pm and is home bathing the kids by 5.52?
Nobody, that’s who.
The reality is that with more and more cars commuting every day, you’re regularly grappling with a minimum two-hour each way journey to allow for congestion and accidents which are increasing in frequency every day.
Reported by local media last year, according to studies conducted by Transport and Main Roads, the Gold Coast to Brisbane section of the M1 is dangerously close to reaching the 170,000-car capacity with over 140,000 cars using certain sections of the M1 every day.
So, what’s the solution?
You might think well, catch the train.
That’s an obvious way to remove cars from the roads and it’s certainly faster. But where’s the incentive?
Sure, you can work on the train and maybe even catch up on a quick power nap. But while the train is possibly a slightly cheaper option than fuel and CBD parking costs, for those for whom money is no object, what else has the train got to offer?
A commuter’s number one goal is to save time.
They don’t care how much it costs when they’re charging expenses to their company. They don’t care about the level of comfort for such a short trip, and you don’t have to ask too many people the question to find out that a Gold Cost commuter’s main aim is to get to their destination in as short a time as possible.
And the train, while it has the potential to offer the brain a short reprieve for the journey, is still two hours from home to office and back again.
One and a half hours that very few people have to spare.
So, let’s wave good bye to the existing train service as a feasible alternative to the M1.
With it currently taking two hours or more to get to Brisbane from the Gold Coast in both the car and on the train (which even if it doesn’t take that long, you still need to allow for the likelihood of a delay), it’s time to address the fact that there is a big problem with current options for commuters.
Our population is growing, housing in the CBD is becoming less affordable, more people are commuting and lengthy delays are putting pressure on families, on the physical and emotional well-being of the commuter, and it’s costing companies money.
How does 25 minutes from Nerang to the CBD sound?
How would you like to leave your home at 8 am to make it into your office in Queensland’s capital before your 9.00 meeting?
A high-speed rail link between the Gold Coast and Brisbane is this possible solution.
Why should you say YES to Brisbane 25?
I’ve aptly named this, as yet, hypothetical commuter service, Brisbane 25.
If this is something you’ve never considered. Here are the benefits of Brisbane 25 as a project.
It’s already recognised as something that’s needed by the government.
In recognition of the fact that the roads connecting cities are inadequate, the government allocated $20 million in the 2017-2018 budget to improve the transport channels in order to support the continued economic growth in cities.
While plans are currently in place to widen the highway, it’s only a matter of time before the population grows and the problem is in exactly the same place, but with less space to extend again in another ten years, or as it’s required.
With suggestions for improvements bandied around in parliament, it appears that while our taxes continue to get allocated to projects out of our control, we still don’t have a tangible solution. In fact, I think it’s taking longer to get to Brisbane every time I travel there, but perhaps that’s just me!
While extending roads might provide a short-term solution, the demand for a high-speed rail link won’t ever be too great for it to manage. Services can safely leave every 10 to 15 minutes from Nerang and with each service having the capacity to carry a maximum of 460 passengers, the reduction of cars on the road is already becoming obvious.
Using the German built flagship ICE train as a working example, the train is configured with eight carriages and is 242 metres in length but shorter configurations are advisable due to the shorter travel distance which could optimise both existing stations and platform length.
Easy to build with infrastructure already in place.
The infrastructure already exists in the form of the current rail corridor that begins in Varsity Lakes and ends in the CBD. The Brisbane 25 would be an extension of this and simple construction could have the project brought to completion in as little as five years.
It’s more sustainable than upgrading the Gold Coast to Brisbane section of the M1.
As I mentioned earlier, government controlled road upgrades are necessary and they’re in progress but those improvements have a capacity that can be reached. The growth of the Gold Coast population is showing no signs of slowing down with an average increase of 2.15% every year for the past ten years so common sense must prevail.
In contrast to widening the motorway and simply putting a band aid on the problem, Brisbane 25 can grow in capacity in response to demand with extra carriages and services being deployed with little-to-no disruption to the original service.
Furthermore, the rail link can be built much faster than the M1 can be upgraded from the Gold Coast to Brisbane.
Huge b0ost to property development.
If it was a reality that commuters could reach Brisbane from Nerang in just 25 minutes, it would become faster to reach the CBD using Brisbane 25 than it would to reach some southern Gold Coast suburbs. This would be a huge bonus for property developers looking for opportunities on the northern end of the coast who could potentially market their new development as a Brisbane suburb in the heart of the Gold Coast.
Giving commuters the opportunity to have the best of both worlds is a unique selling point that no one is currently taking advantage of.
Funding options are available.
Funding for Brisbane 25 could be through a PPP (Public-Private Partnership) between the developer and the government. If it’s proven that it can solve not only the immediate problem of congestion but also long-term social and economic problems for every single resident of the Gold Coast, it will get the approval from the taxpayer and make it a project which the government will have a vested interest in.
The cost could be in the vicinity of 6 to 11 Billion Dollars if compared with similar projects overseas and if adjusted to reflect plant, labour and material cost in Australia. Some more investigative effort regarding existing conditions of the corridor and property ownership matters are required in order to provide a more accurate cost estimate. A staged approach could be utilised by adopting existing stations and platform structure and extending them further down the track as demand grows.
People would use it.
Logically, who wouldn’t choose Brisbane 25 over driving their own car or utilising existing methods of public transport?
It will save time, it will enhance career opportunities, and it’ll remove the current pressures that families are facing by having parents absent and spending time on the road that they could be spending with their loved ones.
It will decrease unemployment on the Gold Coast.
As at March of this year, the unemployment rate on the Gold Coast was sitting at 5.3% http://www.qgso.qld.gov.au/products/reports/reg-labour-force/gold-coast-201703.pdf
Offering a fast, inexpensive and easy transport system between the Gold Coast and Brisbane will encourage those who aren’t chasing a six-figure salary to travel further afield for employment opportunities which will reduce that figure even further and improve the economic climate of the city.
At AM Project Partners, we are very passionate about environmentally friendly and sustainable infrastructure solutions that bring people together. Brisbane 25 is a necessary and realistic possibility and we are excited about getting the public conversation going.