Queensland’s old trains could be sunk in Moreton Bay to create the state’s newest artificial reef.
Queensland Rail’s fleet of old electric multiple units (EMU) are being progressively replaced with the New Generation Rollingstock, which are being fixed to comply with disablity laws after being described as flawed “from day one”.
However, rather than end up on the scrap heap, a proposal is being considered by the government to turn a few of the old trains into an underwater tourist attraction in south-east Queensland.
A petition, lodged in the Queensland Parliament, is calling for a small number of the fleet of 87 EMUs to be reused as an artificial reef in Moreton Bay when they are retired.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey said he was happy to look at the idea.
“I like the idea of seeing these old trains support new life as artificial reefs in Moreton Bay or somewhere else appropriate along our coast and have previously requested Queensland Rail to examine it further,” he said.
“That said, any plan to sink trains to the sea floor would need to be carefully considered from an environmental, maritime, tourism and cost perspective.”
Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science has advised Queensland Rail it would consider a proposal to use two or four retired EMU or inner-city express [ICE] train units for an artificial reef.
Decisions would have to be made on whether the site would be used for marine life or also as a dive site.
Depth, access, stability in storms and maintenance would also need to be considered.
It is understood the department preferred to use artificial reefs constructed from highly productive, stable, purpose-built reefs with expected life spans of more than 30 years over scrap metal.
No firm proposals have been received and no funding has been committed to the project or a feasibility study.
Greens MP Michael Berkman, who sponsored the petition, said supporting the voices of constituents was a great part of his job.
“The wrecks at Moreton Island are an amazing tourist attraction, and another artificial reef that commemorates Brisbane’s well-loved trains is definitely worth considering,” he said.
“The state and federal government would need to conduct a rigorous environment impact assessment, and traditional owners should get final say, but a “rollingstock reef” could be a beautiful addition to Moreton Bay.”
Rail lobbyist Robert Dow said the retired EMU trains were currently being stored in stabling yards.
“As to suitability for a reef, I’m not in a position to say either way, but my gut feeling is they’re too fragile and I don’t think they’d last too long in the ocean,” he said.
“They’re not like a ship, a ship is designed to be in the sea to a certain degree.”
There are several artificial reefs in Queensland, including at Moreton Bay, the Great Sandy Marine Park, ex-HMAS Brisbane, and ex-HMAS Tobruk.
Dive operators declared the sinking of the ex-HMAS Tobruk a “stuff-up” after it landed on its side, although the Queensland government said a report showed it could still be accessed by beginner divers.
Brisbane Cruise Terminal Set to Welcome One Million Passengers
Brisbane’s first cruise ship terminal is under way, with premier Annastacia Palaszczuk turning the sod on the $158 million project on Tuesday.
The long-awaited terminal is scheduled to open in October 2020, with bookings already open for Brisbane’s first cruise season.
Publicised as a significant economic boost for Queensland’s tourism industry, the premier said that the terminal will eventually host more than a million passengers each year.
“Building this one piece of infrastructure flows through our entire economy.
“Ships that were too long, too high and too deep to dock at Brisbane’s Hamilton facility will have a dedicated cruise terminal.”
Deloitte’s latest business outlook shows strong population growth numbers bolstering Queensland’s economy as “crazy” house prices send buyers north. Tourism numbers are also looking positive, with an expected economic upswing coming from tourism and mining.
“The renewed (albeit modest) falls in the Australian dollar over the past year augur well for renewed strength in tourism numbers ahead,” Deloitte partner Chris Richardson said.
“That will be accommodated by the recent increased and ongoing investment in hotel capacity in some of the tourism hubs of the state.”
Tourism minister Kate Jones said that Queensland’s cruise industry was booming.
“Last financial year we saw 520 ships port in Queensland — 11 per cent growth year-on-year, making the Sunshine State Australia’s undisputed cruise capital.”
The terminal is expected to handle over 1,100 vessels and at 1.8 million passengers within its first five years.
The global cruise ship industry is growing, with at least 60 per cent of the cruise ships calling in to Australia by 2020 estimated to be “mega” cruise ships — with a gross tonnage larger than 120,000.
The Queensland government has confirmed that construction company Hindmarsh will deliver the $158 million building.
The Star to Announce Contractor for Brisbane Casino Resort Within Weeks
Excavation work at the site of the Queen’s Wharf resort nears completion, the actual construction phase is slated to begin in late 2019
The winning bidder for the construction of the A$3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf luxury integrated resort in Brisbane will be announced within weeks, news outlet the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Geoff Hogg, Managing Director Queensland for Australian casino operator The Star Entertainment Group, said today that “somewhere in the next four to six weeks” they will announce the successful tender that “will start building the main core and shell of the Queen’s Wharf development.”
The Star is the leading partner in Destination Brisbane Consortium that was selected back in 2016 as the winning bidder for the development and operation of an integrated resort in Brisbane’s Central Business District. The company won the race over its biggest archrival Crown Resorts.
Mr. Hogg went on to explain that the soon-to-be-announced winning tender will be tasked with the “core concrete and […] shell” of the resort. Tenders for internal fit-outs will follow at a later stage. Announcing the winning tender for the primary construction work will mark an important milestone and the shift from excavation toward the start of construction, Mr. Hogg said today.
Excavation work began early in 2017. Mr. Hogg explained today that phase is now almost complete. Workers have so far demolished a number of government-owned buildings to prepare the site for setting the foundations.
Mr. Hogg explained that they expect to reach an important milestone in mid-2019 when all 450,000 cubic meters of soil and rock would be taken out and the hole in the ground would be finished. Foundation work is slated to begin shortly afterwards. Actual construction work is likely to commence by Christmas.
They expect to be ready to begin ground level work by mid-2020. The luxury resort will feature a massive underground car park.
The Star targets 2022 opening of a major part of its property. The launch will include three hotels, one operating under The Star brand, as well as Dorsett-branded and Rosewood-branded hotels, food and beverage facilities, public spaces at the flagship Sky Deck, The Landing, and Waterline, and retail spaces.
The gaming and hospitality giant currently runs Brisbane’s Treasury Casino. That facility will be closed when the main resort is finished and The Star will relocate its license to a larger casino at its the Queen’s Wharf resort. As for its old gaming operation, it will be transformed into a retail center.
Consortium Announced for $5.4bn Cross River Rail
Days after being snubbed for federal funding in this year’s budget, the contractors responsible for building the state government’s pet Cross River Rail project have been announced.
Deputy premier Jackie Trad confirmed that the Cimic-led Pulse consortium will deliver the tunnelling works and the development of four new underground stations.
The ASX-listed Cimic, which is currently building the $4.3 billion Westconnex tunnel project, is joined by Cimic Group-owned brands Pacific Partnerships, CPB Contractors and UGL as part of the consortium.
The Spanish-controlled construction giant has also won the contract to deliver the Cross River Rail’s rail, integration and systems package as part of the Alliance partnership. Hitachi Rail will deliver the European Train Control System.
The shortlist to build Queensland’s largest infrastructure project was announced in February 2018.
Tunnelling could begin as early as next year, while contractors are expected to establish a site presence from late 2019.
Queensland will fully fund the $5.4 billion infrastructure project.
Minister for transport and main roads Mark Bailey said that federal funding for Queensland infrastructure had “gone backwards” under successive Coalition governments.
“They’ve given us a dud deal, other states have done a lot better. We’ve got nothing for Cross River Rail, M1 we only get 50 per cent.”
“Eighty per cent for NSW M1, 50 per cent for Queensland’s M1.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Cross River Rail would generate 7,700 jobs including 450 apprenticeships.
“As a result of this historic investment, hundreds of new job opportunities will be delivered, for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work on a project that will fundamentally change our region.”
Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten has promised $2.24 billion in funding for the Cross River Rail should Labor win the election.
The Cross River Rail is expected to be up and running by 2024.
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