The steadily growing population in the South East Queensland region is already raising concerns about the ability of current infrastructure to take on the burden in the coming decades. Specifically, transport infrastructure, given that mobility around the region is already an issue today and will only worsen with the increasing population.

Unlike Sydney, which responded very late to the booming population and began building infrastructure that was needed at least a decade or two ago, the South East Queensland (SEQ) region has an opportunity to prepare and be ready for the future.

Building more roads to address the region’s mobility issue is not a solution as it only generates more traffic. The M1’s stable flow capacity is about 170,000 vehicles per day with 2017 figures placing the actual usage at 144,437 vehicles per day; this means the M1 will reach capacity by 2020.

While the Hyperloop is being suggested all over the world as a futuristic technology to address urban transportation challenges, it is still in the experimental stage and therefore, not a solution to present-day problems.

High speed rail (HSR) combined with new smart cities is being discussed as a possible solution to connect the SEQ region. The 400kph speed of the train will get a passenger from Brisbane to the Gold Coast in less than 10 minutes.

A new concept of a double-decker high speed train by British designer Andreas Vogler, called the AeroLiner3000 will carry 1,400 passengers at a time and travel 400kph. However, linking the various cities in the SEQ region using HSR will be very expensive with political compulsions on funding overriding any plans to build new infrastructure.

There is a more sustainable way to fund and build a high speed rail network for SEQ while also solving housing and accommodation issues for the next five decades

The Queensland Government can take the initiative to build a network of smart cities in the expanses of land located between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. These smart cities would be completely car-free and serviced by a new high speed rail system, and will also offer affordable housing and luxury developments along with office space.

A prototype by Mexican architect Fernando Romero, called the FR-EE city, envisages a hexagon shaped, car-free city based on a grid road layout with the design ensuring an 8-minute walkable city, serviced by trams and cycleways.

The expected transportation apocalypse will happen in the not-too-distant future, making it critical for the government to consider and act upon alternative solutions today to connect the SEQ region. The government will additionally benefit from the associated development.