Reshaping Brisbane Rail Connection: A Conversation with Graeme Newton

FuturePlace Interview Spotlight, Graeme Newton

We recently interviewed Graeme Newton, Chief Executive Officer at Cross River Rail Delivery Authority who leads the pivotal Cross River Rail project, reshaping transportation in Brisbane and Southeast QLD. In this interview, he discusses about the progress of this mega Cross River Rail project with the completion of twin tunnels and focus shifting to fit-out and station construction. Graeme looks forward to showcasing the project’s impact and discussing the future direction of the construction industry at FCON24.

FuturePlace: Graeme, you’re leading a very important project for Brisbane and South East QLD, what can you tell us about the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority in terms of its scale, dynamics, workforce and cost? 

Graeme Newton: Cross River Rail is a megaproject in every sense. We currently have more than 3000 people working across 16 separate worksites, delivering a project that will transform the way we travel across South East Queensland.  

The scope of what we have been asked to deliver is often greater than many people realise. At the core of our project we are delivering a new 10.2km rail line that includes 5.9km of twin tunnels running under the Brisbane River and CBD; with four new underground stations at Boggo Road, Woolloongabba, Albert Street and Roma Street. 

But we are also delivering two new above-ground stations at Exhibition and Dutton Park; accessibility rebuilds for six stations between Fairfield and Salisbury; construction of three new stations on the Gold Coast; construction of new train stabling facilities at Mayne Yard and Claphan and installation of a new world-class signalling system.  

FuturePlace: When we last spoke you were very excited by the construction stage you were up to in the Cross River Rail Project which I understand was progressing very well. Where are we today and what excites you most on the project? 

Graeme Newton: This is an exciting time on the project as we are starting to see what we are delivering really come to life and become much more of a reality.  

The project’s twin tunnels were completed in 2021, and since then our focus has shifted to tunnel fit out and construction of the underground stations.  

More recently, we have moved to a second stage of fit out down in the underground stations with escalators and platform screen doors being installed, architectural finishes becoming visible and even the installation of public artworks. 

Above ground, we’re well advanced with the eight surface stations we are rebuilding in Brisbane, and we have started work on all three of the new stations we have been asked to deliver on the Gold Coast. Meanwhile at Mayne Yard we have completed a new Mayne Yard North facility and are now working on the reconfiguration of Mayne Yard East. And on the Shorncliffe line, we have installed and are now testing the new ETCS signalling system. 

Our commitment to sustainability was recently recognised with one of our major works packages achieving a ‘Leading’ Infrastructure Sustainability design rating from the Infrastructure Sustainability Council, which is the highest possible rating you can achieve.

FuturePlace: Can you tell me what role sustainability has played in the Cross River Rail Deliver Project and are you happy with your commitments towards net zero construction in relation to the project? 

Graeme Newton: I’m very proud to say that our project is setting a new standard for major infrastructure delivery, with innovative and best practice designs and construction. 

Our commitment to sustainability was recently recognised with one of our major works packages achieving a ‘Leading’ Infrastructure Sustainability design rating from the Infrastructure Sustainability Council, which is the highest possible rating you can achieve. 

Some of the innovations that helped us achieve the rating included using ‘Envirosand’ made out of crushed recycled glass instead of natural quarry sand, station entrance designs that use natural ventilation and natural light to reduce energy demands and Industry first training programs. 

FuturePlace: So lastly, can you tell me what excites you most about the Future direction of the construction industry and can you tell us a little bit more about your session at FCON24? 

Graeme Newton: I look forward to sharing with the conference not only just how real things are getting on Cross River Rail, but also the transformational impact this project is shaping up to have both our city and the wider SEQ region. 



Graeme will be speaking at the Future of Construction Summit, taking place on 14-15 May 2024 in Brisbane.

It is the construction industry’s premier national event focused on creating a more progressive, productive and sustainable construction industry.

Launched in 2021, FCON has been held in Sydney and Melbourne. In 2024 FCON moves to Brisbane which is undergoing a “once in a generation” infrastructure boom and where billions of dollars of major Infrastructure Projects are either underway or well into the planning stages.

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