Infrastructure Australia puts brakes on Brisbane’s $5.4bn Cross River Rail project
A major rail project in Brisbane has suffered a setback after Infrastructure Australia (IA) rejected the proposal, a decision which has prompted angry reactions from the Labor Government.
Factors including the economic case, road congestion benefits and passenger uptake were cited in the evaluation. For instance, it says that in 2011 proposal predicted 374,000 passengers would use the rail line per day in 2016, whereas the 2016 business case reduced this to 195,000 for the same year.
The report also criticised a lack of consideration for alternative rail projects, including a new bus and train tunnel.
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However, government figures have been quick to condemn IA’s findings, most notably Infrastructure Minister Jackie Trad, a vocal supporter of Cross River Rail. Trad and the Cross River Rail Delivery Rail Authority claim several errors in the evaluation, including the use of a map that places the city’s central business district on the wrong side of the Brisbane River. The map also invents a suburb called Hill Gate, which is not known to exist.
The nation government appears determined for the project to go ahead regardless, with the 10.2km rail line appearing to receive strong business support at an industry forum in June.
During the briefing at Parliament House, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was imperative that industry was on board, with early works for Cross River Rail set to start in September.
“Industry is ready to play its part after my Government committed to fully fund Cross River Rail,” the Premier said. “We are wasting no time - I have been clear that Cross River Rail is happening and that we will deliver this nation building infrastructure project.
“I understand that we need our industry leaders to be ready to act on our tenders and start the flow of jobs which is why we are having our first industry briefing today.”
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.