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On 6 May 2011, GoldLinQ was announced as the successful consortium to operate light rail on the Gold Coast. GoldLinQ is responsible for design, construction, operations and maintenance. With passenger services scheduled to start in 2014, GoldLinQ’s Jason Ward joined us to discuss the project’s progress and some of the unique and innovative characteristics that have seen it named as one the ‘Infrastructure 100’ projects underway around the world.
Given that the Gold Coast Light Rail project is the first time any public transport project in Australia has been jointly funded by all three levels of government, what lessons does project offer for sustainable funding?
A review of the on various aspects of this light rail system is extremely topical at the moment, especially with the ACT, Sunshine Coast, Hobart, Sydney, and Perth all in various stages of light rail investigations.
The project is leading the way in Australia with regards to PPP funded transport infrastructure, and unlike like recent road and tunnel experiences, offers a sustainable solution for Government.
Creatively financed, the scheme is a complex transport PPP that interlocks federal, state and local council funding. To maximize opportunities for local involvement, the project developed a two-stream delivery structure, providing the market with the big PPP it desired and a government-funded early works package underpinned by a series of smaller contracts that could be rolled out quickly to kick-start the struggling local construction industry and inject some much needed capital into the local economy.
Given the ‘local’ characteristics of the project, how will GoldLinQ’s design and rail operations reflect and enhance the city’s character?
The most visible element of the project, the trams, have been designed in Brisbane by a local Bombardier designer. The cab fronts, livery, and interior have all been created with the Gold Coast in mind. The bright sun, blue water, and hinterland were all design influences.
Station designs are not only reflective of the natural assets of the Gold Coast, but also take into consideration long term maintenance, weather protection, graffiti management, and accommodation of system equipment.
Are there any particularly unique or innovative rail solutions featured in the project?
In particular the tram has a number of interesting firsts for Bombardier. This cab design, called ‘the wave’ is specific to the Gold Coast. Tram interiors include the first surfboard racks in the world, along with the biggest air conditioner in this class of tram. This will also be the first delivery of a 7-module FLEXITY 2 tram anywhere in the world.
The Gold Coast is a very popular lifestyle and holiday destination with a regular calendar of international events and across the world, the hosting of large scale international events has proven a catalyst for investing in urban transport. What role will GoldLinQ play pre and post the 2018 Commonwealth Games?
Stage One of the light rail is a new and important element in TransLink’s existing public transport network. With any major event transport is key to its success. GoldLinQ, along with our operator KDR Gold Coast, will be working hand in hand with TransLink, other public transport operators, and the games organizing committee to ensure the best transport outcomes possible.
Light rail infrastructure is proven around the world to provide investor confidence in and around its corridor, for residential and commercial development. The natural catalyst that transport infrastructure provides for city growth, combined with the proposed legacy outcomes from the Commonwealth Games in 2018, will be a great provider for public transport patronage well beyond the games themselves.
How confident are you that operations will commence on schedule?
The first shipment of trams is due in Brisbane early September, with the first test runs scheduled for October this year. Testing and commissioning will continue right through to passenger services mid next year.
Although we are still 10 months away from the commencement of operations, we’re confident that we’ll meet this timeframe.