Gold Coast Rapid Transit Stage 1, Queensland, Australia

Light rail reduces traffic congestion across the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast Light Rail project is part of the Queensland Government’s and City of Gold Coast’s wider plan to address traffic congestion throughout the Gold Coast. The project aims to provide a corridor of light rail transport from Helensvale along the coastal strip to Coolangatta.

The Gold Coast Rapid Transit Stage 1 construction commenced in early 2012 and service operation began in 2014. The first stage of development consisted of 13 km of light rail to service the fast growing commercial, retail and recreational centres between Southport and Broadbeach. It also passes through the key tourist area of Surfers Paradise by connecting the Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH) to Broadbeach South.

The project set an international benchmark for public transport solutions by integrating 16 light rail stations with compact, high quality bus interchanges and capacity for future expansion, of which Stage 2 is now complete.

Aurecon was appointed as Technical Advisor to the project, which was the first public transport infrastructure project in Australia to be jointly funded by local, state and federal governments. Aurecon’s role included the development of the reference design and associated technical documentation, business case support, and procurement support, as well as the detailed design for three Early Enabling Works (EEW) packages.

Aurecon is a key member of the State Government’s integrated infrastructure development team. For Stage 1, Aurecon played a significant role in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) process, which included development of the request for proposal (RFP) technical documentation and subsequent technical evaluation of all RFPs to enable selection, with involvement up to financial close and through to the delivery phase of the project.

Detailed design in rapid timeframes

Aurecon’s role as a technical advisor to the client extended to the end of the first delivery stream with a dedicated Aurecon multidisciplinary team undertaking the detailed design of EEW packages consisting of two major road construction contracts. The three EEW packages included the Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH) Station Shell, Southport roadworks package and the Broadbeach roadworks package.

It was critical for Aurecon to undertake design in a rapid timeframe to ensure fast-tracked coordination and delivery of the major PPP component. This was successfully sequenced with EEW starting in July 2010 and completed by August 2012.

Each EEW package was complex and significant in nature. The GCUH Station Shell primary scope included the excavation and construction of the foundation, structural shell and surrounding roadworks necessary for the PPP contractors to deliver the future underground station. The Southport and Broadbeach EEW primary scope included extensive public utilities plant (PUP) relocations, road widening and roadworks, as well as extensive property and reinstatement works.

Aurecon maintained an important project role during the construction phase of each of the EEW packages, providing a dedicated design team over the entire period. This enabled timely design advice to be provided to each of the EEW Contractors and allowed coordination with future PPP works, which were not known at the time of EEW design. The complex brownfield environment proved challenging during the construction and required Aurecon to provide detailed and accurate design advice to achieve the best project outcome.

Multidisciplinary approach accelerates delivery

The Gold Coast Rapid Transit project illustrates how Aurecon’s multidisciplinary teams, containing a range of technical specialists as well as engineers, can expedite delivery of complex projects through continuity and effective collaboration from the outset.

On the first day of operation – a day of free travel – 80 000 rode on Stage 1 ‘fast trams’. In the first three years of operation, the system made over 21 million trips and carried over 21 000 passengers each day. It also reduced vehicle traffic by 21 per cent on the Gold Coast Highway at Broadbeach. Due to the success of Stage 1, the 7.3km Stage 2 route connection between light and heavy rail, was identified by the Queensland Government as the next highest investment priority for the system.

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