The Gold Coast Light Rail project is scheduled to be implemented in stages throughout the city. Due to the costs of construction (including light rail stations, depots, bridges, tracks, trams and power supply), as well as disruption to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the construction zones, it was not feasible to roll out the entire network at once.
The project’s Stage One contract was awarded to GoldlinQ in 2011, making them the operator franchisee responsible for the design, build and operation of the service. A three year timeline for construction was implemented with costs at approximately $1.6 billion.
Stage One refers to the first part of the light rail system that will be opened to the public when construction is completed in mid-2014. This 13 kilometre section of track will connect the Griffith University campus to the main commercial areas in Southport, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, with the majority of track work running along the coastal corridor. This route was chosen for the initial construction stage as it was deemed the area most in need of light rail transportation in the short term. From end to end, Stage One will comprise a total 37 minute trip throughout some of the Gold Coast’s busiest areas.
The main objective of the Gold Coast Light Rail project is to create a high quality, world class transport service which will improve the connectivity of the Gold Coast’s current public transport system with more efficient transportation options. The aim is for this system to become even more efficient over time, with more extensive connections, network expansions, and integration with other forms of public transportation.
One example of this integration is the future Broadbeach South Station, which is slated to be a major public transport interchange for light rail, buses and taxis, with access to the major retail hub of Pacific Fair Shopping Centre.
Concrete timelines for future stages of light rail development on the Gold Coast are not yet available, as only conceptual planning has been undertaken for most areas, but there are general plans for extending the service to a 55 kilometre network between Helensvale and Coolangatta. A Helensvale connection to Griffith University via Harbour Town shopping centre is not expected to be needed until after 2016, and thus is only in the preliminary planning stage.
The Transport Strategy 2031 draft, released by the Gold Coast City Council in late 2012, outlined that other future stages of construction may include:
- Southern expansion from Broadbeach to Burleigh Heads, then Burleigh Heads to Coolangatta.
- Western expansion to Parkwood.
- Connection from The Spit to Main Beach.
- Connection from Bundall to Surfers Paradise.
- Connection from Nobby Beach to Robina.
- Southern expansion connecting to the Gold Coast Airport.
These stages may not all become a reality, as no funding has been committed to any of these projects. Their feasibility will likely be judged on the performance of Stage One and the Gold Coast’s economic climate in the coming years.
Article, Image/Photo © Ian Piggott 2013 – all rights reserved,