Work begins on $5.4 billion rail project for Brisbane

CONSTRUCTION has begun on the transformative $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed heavy work started yesterday on the 5.9km tunnel to run under Brisbane River from Dutton Park to just after the Roma Street Station.

But LNP leader Tim Nicholls has left open the option of canning CRR if he won power.

Ms Palaszczuk said: "This is an important milestone as it marks the start of ­official works for this historic infrastructure project.

"Over the next few months, Queenslanders will see activity ramp up, with the demolition of the Go Print site and the relocation of electrical substations."

Bore drilling is expected to start at the Woolloongabba site within a month.

The announcement comes ahead of an industry briefing tomorrow to update stakeholders on the project, including details of major work packages such as tunnelling.

Ms Palaszczuk said the State Government would use the controversial Buy Queensland procurement policy - hailed by local producers, but scorned by the Federal Government - to ensure as many homegrown construction companies as possible were involved in Cross River Rail.

Asked directly whether he would rule out cancelling the project, Mr Nicholls said: "No, we'll look at the business case."

"We've said we want to see whether the business case actually stacks up."

More than 1500 jobs are expected every year during construction of the 10.2km train line between Dutton Park and Bowen Hills, peaking at 3000.

Infrastructure Minister Jackie Trad said the second rail crossing meant services could be more than doubled, possibly stimulating greater demand for public transport.

At its deepest, the rail line will plunge 33m under the city between Albert St and Roma St. Under the riverbed, depths will drop to about 28.5m.

As part of the landmark project, four new stations will be developed at Boggo Road in Dutton Park, Woolloongabba, Albert and Roma streets in the city, and Bowen Hills' RNA Exhibition showgrounds.

James Tuma, national director of city-shaping specialists Urbis, said the transport infrastructure would be a "major driver of private sector investment".

The new stations would attract development, ­including a health-focused science centre at Boggo Rd.

At the Roma St Railyards, entrepreneur Harvey Lister is planning a $2.5 billion entertainment and education precinct, including an arena as the area is transformed into a grand central interchange between buses, rail and the $944 million Metro project.

Mr Tuma said Metro stations such as Buranda were going to also benefit through major upgrades.