The Gold Coast Light Rail (GCLR) project is Queensland’s first light rail system and one of the biggest transport infrastructure projects ever undertaken on the Gold Coast. GCLR (or ‘G:link’) has integrated new and existing transport systems and aims to enhance the city’s connectivity with a 42 kilometre light rail corridor from Helensvale to Coolangatta.
Construction of GCLR Stage 1 commenced in early 2012, and in July 2014, the first passengers travelled on the system. In the first three years of operation, the fast G:link trams carried more than 21 million passengers, averaging about 21 000 passengers per day.
Due to the project’s success, the Queensland Government conducted a study for a possible line extension from the Gold Coast University Hospital to link with heavy rail at Helensvale – now referred to as GCLR Stage 2. It was determined that extending the existing light rail system would ease congestion, improve accessibility across the region and support economic growth.
GCLR Stage 2 consisted of 7.3 kilometres of dual track to connect the Gold Coast University Hospital light rail station to the Helensvale heavy rail station and bus interchange. The extension provides a continuous connection, linking the Gold Coast and Brisbane central business districts (CBDs) through a one-transfer journey.
After its successful involvement in Stage 1 of the project, Aurecon was awarded the ongoing technical advisor role for the business case, procurement and delivery phases of the GCLR Stage 2 project. The role included the development of the reference design and associated technical documentation, business case support, procurement support, managing the D&C design review process on behalf of the State Government, technical advice and support, and providing project management and site surveillance services.
As congestion grows on the Pacific Motorway between the Gold Coast and Brisbane, the efficiency of the rail system and its mass transit capabilities has become increasingly important for the region, providing significant economic benefits to the Gold Coast and the State. This project has significantly improved liveability and supported economic growth of the city.
The opening of Stage 2 not only provides public transport users with a seamless, one-transfer journey between the Gold Coast and Brisbane, but also gives them the option of stopping at any of the 19 light rail stations, with bus connections at key activity centres along the 20.3 kilometre corridor between Helensvale and Broadbeach.
Since Stage 2 opened on 17 December 2017, light rail patronage increased by 33 per cent and has grown to over 10.5 million trips in a year, not including those trips taken during the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. It also assisted in providing key transport for the Gold Coast 600 Supercar racing event in October 2018 when it carried more than 180 000 passengers over three days.
The opening of Stage 2 has turned Helensvale Station into a key transport hub in the fast-growing northern Gold Coast with tram, train, bus and taxi services all in one place. Heavy rail has also benefited from the extension, with Helensvale Station experiencing a 55 per cent increase in passenger trips to 1.1 million from 717 000 in 12 months.
In addition to improving mobility across the Gold Coast, Stage 2 was determined as critical infrastructure to support the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games transport task. Passenger services commenced in December 2017, two months ahead of schedule, before the Games in April 2018.
Throughout the 11 days of the Commonwealth Games, G:link trams carried approximately 1.1 million passengers, or 100 000 passengers a day, nearly four times the normal daily average.
Passenger growth is continuing with more than 37.77 million trips on the Gold Coast Light Rail since paid services started in July 2014, through to January 2019. The 2017-18 financial year recorded a patronage increase of seven million, or 42.9 per cent, when compared to the year before GCLR’s introduction 2013-14.
The success of Stage 2 has resulted in further consideration for future stages of the GCLR, the next being Stage 3A, which is set to extend the system between Broadbeach South and Burleigh Heads.