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Estimates: Bringing AirTrain into public hands

During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Tuesday 8 August 2023, I asked If the department had any ongoing discussions and negotiations around with AirTrain over their monopoly over public transport services to Brisbane Airport. 

You can read the answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: Sure. I will jump on to another topic quickly. Back in May of last year the Brisbane Times reported that the government was in negotiations with Airtrain regarding the future of its services to the Brisbane Airport and integration with the network in light of the planned Cross River Rail. I ask the acting DG: is the department in any ongoing discussions or negotiations with Airtrain around changes to their monopoly over public transport services to the Brisbane Airport?

Ms Stannard: Airtrain is a private company responsible for rail services, as the member is aware, to and from the Brisbane Airport on the Brisbane Airport rail link. The elevated railway was constructed under a deed which commenced in 1998 and when the deed expires, the infrastructure will revert to the state at nil cost. As for negotiations that are underway, when planning for the integrated South-East Queensland rail network, we have of course considered Airtrain. The SEQ Rail Connect document that was releasedabout this time last year is our published blueprint and describes the new three-sector network post Cross River Rail. As that documents outlines, we have developed a three-sector configuration and it is the most efficient and effective way to benefit the largest number of customers on the South-East Queensland rail network. It does open up new public transport connections and opportunities for many residents and visitors to South-East Queensland. After Cross River Rail opens, the Airtrain line will connect the growing Ipswich line rather than the Gold Coast line. The network remains fully integrated through new stations which are being delivered through Cross River Rail. Customers access Airtrain right now from right across South-East Queensland, and a significant portion of Airtrain customers currently travel from Brisbane city and surrounding suburbs.

Mr BERKMAN: Chair, I might follow up with a quick question to the minister before this session is over.

CHAIR: It will have to be really quick. We have about a minute.

Mr BERKMAN: Minister, I am keen to hear from you whether the government is interested in bringing the Airtrain back into public hands before the expiry of that contract in 2036 when that monopoly condition would cease to apply.

Mr BAILEY: I am advised that any discussions with Airtrain are subject to strict commercial confidentiality provisions, so I am not able to make any further comment at this point. What I can say to the honorable member is that the Queensland government will always consider our available options based on merit, delivering value for money and enhancing the rail network for the majority of customers. That is probably all I can give you at this point.


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