Cross River Rail is a 10.2 km, AUD5.4 billion (2 billion) rail line in Brisbane, Australia linking Dutton Park to Bowen Hills. It includes 5.9 km twin tunnels crossing underneath the Brisbane River and CBD and four new underground stations and eight upgraded stations, doubling the railway capacity across the Brisbane River. It will also involve developing three new Gold Coast stations.
The Queensland Government did not have a specific agency with the personnel having the skills and experience necessary to plan and deliver large infrastructure projects (e.g. managing the project’s complex contractual structures and managing the engineering and project management processes). Instead, the requisite personnel were distributed throughout several government agencies and the private sector.
This could have resulted in a potential lack of capability and capacity in the government agency ultimately responsible for the project, or inefficiencies during project planning and delivery.
The Queensland Government established an independent statutory delivery authority, the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority (CRRDA), which is responsible for delivering the Cross River Rail project. The CRRDA allows staff with the specialist skills required to deliver the project to be concentrated into a single agency. The staff are recruited from the public and private sectors and overseas.
The CRRDA was established by an act of parliament and operates on a commercial basis with a CEO and board of directors, while still being subject to oversight by the Queensland Government.
The CRRDA is responsible for facilitating the development, procurement, and delivery of the project. This includes facilitating the procurement and supply of services and infrastructure, ensuring that required approvals for the project are obtained, entering into and managing contractual arrangements, and consulting with relevant entities about funding the project.
Queensland Rail (state-owned railway operator).
April 2017 – CRRDA established
August 2017 – Early works commenced
July 2019 – Financial close with Tunnel, Stations and Development public-private partnership (PPP) consortium
August 2019 – Contractual close with Rail, Integration and Systems Alliance
October 2019 – Contract award for procurement of a European Train Control System
January 2020 – Main tunnel construction commenced
2024 – Major construction expected to be completed
2025 – Expected opening.
Results / impact
Establishment of the CRRDA has allowed the recruitment and retention of key competencies required for delivery of the project and their concentration into a single agency, and enabled deeper engagement with all levels of government and the private sector, with a level of independence from the Queensland Government.
Its benefits include resourcing flexibility with an improved ability to attract and retain talent, and providing project certainty for private sector investment and a whole-of-government approach that addresses government objectives, private sector demand, planning, and stakeholder and community engagement.
Key lessons learnt
Public Statutory Delivery Authorities can lead to an improved resourcing capability to deliver long-term projects/programs such as the Cross River Rail by providing staff with the required expertise under a single body. The Statutory Delivery Authority model can consolidate functions across several state government agencies to deliver the required infrastructure and capitalise on commercial opportunities that arise around it. The expanded commercial powers it may hold, such as entering into contracts and dealing in land, allow a greater mix of valuable commercial skills while still balancing its community service obligations.