AUSTRALIA: Four consortia have been shortlisted to develop 'innovative' proposals for the long-planned Moreton Bay Rail Link in Queensland, serving the coastal region northeast of Brisbane.

Under discussion for many years, the A$1·15bn project was accelerated by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2010, leading to a signing of an agreement between the federal and state governments in December that year. Completion is planned by the end of 2016.

The electrified outer-suburban branch would diverge from Queensland Rail's north-south main line just north of Petrie, where most suburban services now terminate, and run east for 12·6 km to Kippa-Ring, with intermediate stations at Kallangur, Murrumba Downs, Mango Hill, Kinsellas Rd (North Lakes) and Rothwell.

The four shortlisted bidders are Abigroup Contractors, Theiss, John Holland Queensland with Leighton Contractors, and a Salini-Bielby-Winslow joint venture. They been asked to present their initial proposals in December, and two will then be invited to submit final tenders with the contract to be awarded by mid-to-late 2013.

Much of the land required for the line has already been acquired by the Queensland Department of Transport & Main Roads or local authorities, and initial works are already getting underway along sections of the alignment, including several road bridges. Conceptual design of the stations is also in progress.