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Fast train study another hint our Olympic bid may be slipping off the tracks

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A new report has rejected the need for fast rail, proposed as an ideal people mover for any southeast Queensland Olympics.

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The Grattan Institute, a Melbourne-based think tank, today released a report highlighting the cost of fast rail projects and questioning the value to commuters and communities. It argued against the latest proposal for east coast high speed rail and cast doubts over shorter versions from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast.

“Even if such projects stand up to scrutiny, that doesn’t mean they would solve all the problems that people imagine they would: very few city residents would move to the regions; regional cities may actually lose out if their residents can get to the capital more quickly; and many regions have more pressing infrastructure needs than faster trains, including better schools, hospitals, and internet and mobile connections,” the institute argued.

The institute suggested upgrades to the Redcliffe, Beenleigh and Gold Coast lines would make more sense, however it made no reference to southeast Queensland’s bid for the 2032 Olympics.

If successful, the bid – technically on hold due to the pandemic and economic crisis – would deliver a major public transport improvement for the region, providing legacy benefits for residents long after the event had passed.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner recently told InQueensland he believed the bid still had merit.

However, right-wing and regional politicians have questioned the perceived benefits, and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been forced to respond to a petition from more than 5,000 people calling for it to be abandoned.

“As made clear in December last year, and again earlier this year, the Queensland Government’s interest in hosting the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games (2032 Games) is subject to all levels of government providing appropriate financial support,” Palaszczuk said, in a letter tabled in parliament last week.

“As Queensland’s and Australia’s focus has been placed on responding to coronavirus (COVID-19), the Olympic Candidature Leadership Group, made up of representatives from the Federal Government, Queensland Government, Council of Mayors (SEQ) and the Australian Olympic Committee, agreed that the 2032 Games candidature discussions be put on hold until further notice.”

Palaszczuk took the opportunity to point out that the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games were delivered within the planned $1.507 billion net budget and provided an estimated $2.5 billion economic boost to the state.

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