Narrabri to North Star

Contract awarded for Narrabri to North Star construction

The Trans4m Rail joint venture has been announced as the successful contractor for the construction of Inland Rail between Narrabri and North Star.

The $693 million contract covers phase one of the Narrabri to North Star leg, which includes upgrading 171km of existing track. A contract for phase two, including 15km of track upgrade and 2.3km of new track, will be awarded separately.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the project would be built by local businesses.

“Inland Rail is going to change the freight task in Australia and in doing so will create opportunity in regional Australia with unprecedented investment and job creation,” he said.

“This nationally significant infrastructure is being built by the skills and expertise of Australian businesses – businesses that invest locally, drive regional employment and give back to communities along this 1,700km corridor of commerce.”

Trans4m rail is a joint venture between John Holland and SEE Civil. Lendlease and another joint venture RailFirst made up of Downer EDI and Seymour White had also been shortlisted for the contract.

Local member for Parkes Mark Coulton said the winning tenderer would invest locally.

“Trans4m Rail has made a commitment to employ local people, engage local businesses and suppliers and work with communities in North West NSW to ensure the benefits of Inland Rail are felt throughout the community.”

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said that the project would enable more freight to be handled by rail.

“The upgrade of another 171km of track is another important piece in the puzzle to delivering better and quicker freight access to our primary producers in regional Australia, helping them get their product to markets in Australia and overseas with more ease.”

Coulton said that this region was already seeing greater investment.

“This project is about more than just steel tracks – we’re already seeing opportunities for industry to invest in the region through the Northern NSW Inland Port at Narrabri and the Moree Special Activation Precinct – leveraging the advantages of Inland Rail to provide long-term employment and scope for future growth.”

Rethinking rail machinery: KH1 providing solutions with the Zagro Unimog

The complexity of the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project requires a new approach when it comes to the delivery of materials and equipment. KH1 solved that with the Zagro Unimog.

In mid-July 2018, then-Victorian Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan announced the successful consortium that would build the critical link between the underground sections of Melbourne’s new Metro Tunnel and the existing rail network.

This announcement kicked off a package of works that would include both tunnel entrances at South Yarra and Kensington, as well as improvements to the adjoining Sunbury lines. Working within and beside the operating rail corridor in the inner suburbs of Melbourne meant that the project had an extra layer of complexity, meaning that every effort had to be made to ensure the project ran smoothly and efficiently.

The successful consortium, Rail Infrastructure Alliance (RIA), which comprised John Holland, CPB Contractors, and AECOM, looked to local rail suppliers who were innovating in the delivery of similarly complex projects. They found one in the case of Campbellfield- based KH1.

Daniel Mociak, managing director of KH1, could see that the project required smart thinking when it came to getting materials in and out of the worksites.

“RIA had a lot of restraints around getting materials, plant, people, and equipment in and out of their locations. This is really inner-city Melbourne and once they get into the shutdown, they have a lot of workgroups that can’t get out until the shutdown is over. They can’t constantly move equipment in and out so they have to get a lot of equipment in one lot and then be very flexible about how they can move around.”

Mociak and KH1 were brought in by RIA to look at how the project team could move a variety of pieces of machinery into the worksite. The solution that they came up with was the Zagro Unimog.

“The main benefit is the shunting capacity,” said Mociak.“That machine itself can pull up to 600 tonnes and other Unimogs that we could deliver are able to pull up to 1,000 tonnes with an increased wagon brake system.”

The Zagro Unimog road-rail vehicle can provide shunting and project logistics tasks. The relatively compact vehicle has the capacity to tow rail trailers weighing up to 125 tonnes at speeds of up to 30km/h. The removeable wagon brake system enables the Unimog to shunt up to 600 tonnes. Since being delivered in 2020, the system has already been put to good use.

“RIA needed to bring in plant, equipment, and excavators,” said Mociak. “They have a series of trailers that they were going to attach to the back of the Unimog to bring in all sorts of construction equipment and materials.”

The Unimog could then return to the access points, taking with it unneeded materials, spoil and other rubbish. RIA rail systems delivery manager Rimmy Chahal, pointed out the benefits of using the Unimog as it has reduced the number of single plant movements.

“The Unimog has largely been used to transport plant, equipment and materials in access-constrained rail corridors. This is in contrast to conventional transport methods of rubber tyred plant on railway tracks or a series of rail-bound plant to undertake this task. With the Unimog, we are able to transport large volumes in a single move from the access point to the work location along the corridor in a safe and controlled manner.”

The Unimog is used along with a five trailer consist to transport concrete, steel gantry structures, pits, conduits, quarry material, spoil disposal bins, cable, rail, sleepers and turnout components, among other materials. Being able to tow a lengthy consist also has benefits when it comes to safety.

“The 5-trailer combination also provides an additional benefit of safely and securely transporting long and bulky items such as turnout switch blade assemblies, which would normally overhang on conventional transport trolleys. Other uses have also included the deployment of site amenities and lighting towers to constrained areas improving safety and work environment conditions for our workforce,” said Chahal.

Another challenging requirement was the need to transport concrete along the rail corridor where access was restricted. Traditional methods of carrying in concrete on rail-bound excavators would require numerous movements to complete a single gantry foundation and had a greater risk of quality and safety issues. With RIA needing to deliver over 550 foundations for overhead and signal structures, a different solution was required.

“RIA and KH1 worked together to configure a skid-based concrete transport solution that can be mounted on rail bound plant. For example – on a trailer towed by Unimog to transport large volumes of concrete from access point to work location. This solution enables the complete pouring of a gantry foundation in one movement rather than numerous movements as required using conventional means,” said Chahal.

This solution involved the BlendMX8, a mobile concrete agitator first designed for the Monte Ceneri base tunnel in Switzerland.

“The BlendMX8 connects on to rail trailers and rail wagons via container lock and is then able to transport concrete in and out of the rail corridor without having to drive concrete trucks on top of wagons,” said Mociak. “It gives RIA flexibility in having the concrete on demand whenever they want it and then able to deliver the concrete via a conveyor belt and chute which can place the concrete up to five metres away from the rail.”

With the equipment expected to be used soon, Chahal is looking forward to seeing it in action.

“This unit is currently undergoing commissioning and RIA is very excited to put it into use over the coming months.”

kh1
The Unimog enables new ways of working in a confined rail environment.

A NEW APPROACH
The approach required for a project as complex as the Melbourne Metro Tunnel has driven innovation in the delivery of plant and equipment. Mociak noted that previous approaches of using wagons and locomotives would not only be prohibitive from a cost basis but limit any flexibility. The ability of machines such as the Unimog to move between road and rail while providing the required shunting capacity is one example of this new thinking.

“In the last couple of years, KH1 has put a lot of emphasis in developing technology and innovation for project logistics,” said Mociak.

The constrained environment of the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project meant that new ideas had to be sought out, said Chahal.

“With urbanisation of the areas around railway lines, the ease of access to rail corridors to conduct maintenance, upgrades, renewals and project works is becoming increasingly restricted and challenging. We can no longer rely on driving along the rail corridor to get to the work location. Accordingly, we now undertake careful and detailed planning to manage the site logistics and work sequence to overcome access constraints and challenges,” he said.

With complex tunnelling projects underway around Australia and New Zealand, the planning and logistics behind the project needs to be increasingly sophisticated.

“The major metropolitan based projects that have come to the front in the last couple of years is a big change in the rail industry, so to support these megaprojects, we’re looking at how we can add value of benefit to the project through innovative movement of materials, plant, equipment, and people,” said Mociak.

In these cases, the solution is not so much about the individual pieces of equipment that are involved, but the careful planning and logistics that supports their operation. With targets being set ever higher, new methods are being implemented, said Chahal.

“Construction contractors are being set ambitious KPIs to minimise the impact of construction on community, stakeholders and rail services. These performance targets drive a strong industry focus on continuous improvement and innovation in how we deliver our works whilst minimising associated disruption. RIA’s use of the Unimog is a perfect example of innovation in action.”

Knowing how the machinery, whether it be the Unimog or concrete agitator, can be best utilised can make a world of difference.

“Because they’re highly complex projects with large numbers of work groups, the logistics of getting materials in and out is one of the hardest parts of the project and they’re also the thing that can really hurt the project if you get it wrong. Getting it right can have some significant benefits,” said Mociak.

For groups working in rain on underground tunnelling projects, all materials have to be brought in at the beginning of a shift, if anything is forgotten it stays at the surface. With each work group depending on the one in front of it, any issues can be passed down, limiting productivity and efficiencies

Back in Melbourne, it has been the partnership approach between KH1, its partner suppliers and John Holland that is making the project successful.

“The equipment was delivered over a 10-month period and representatives from John Holland travelled to Germany to be there for the factory acceptance testing,” said Mociak. “We had a lot of input from all parties during the design period and a lot of collaboration from KH1, John Holland and Zagro.”

To prepare the Unimog for use by the RIA consortium, KH1 ensured that it was provided to specification and the requirements of the project. Documentation ran to hundreds of pages in length to enable the machine to be used in the most productive manner.

“We bring knowledge of the local Australian requirements, standards, compliance, certification, and commissioning process to the table while understanding the product that we have available to us and then being able to adapt it to those requirements,” said Mociak.

Putting in 15 years of experience in the Australian rail industry into the delivery of the machinery for RIA has enabled the Unimog to be used for a wide range of purposes, perhaps more than what was even envisaged before the machine arrived on site.

KH1 is also bringing this approach to the maintenance of railway networks. The company is working with German rail equipment manufacturer Robel to deliver new ways of working to the Australian rail maintenance market. Machines such as the Mobile Maintenance Train can provide a significant step change in the way we work in the rail corridor with full coverage for workers on the rail track in addition to all equipment needed for the job. Ultimately, said Mociak, this is about delivering three core outcomes.

“It’s about innovation, safety, and efficiency.”

First train arrives at Kangy Angy Maintenance Facility

The first train of the New Intercity Fleet has travelled to the Kangy Angy Maintenance facility on the NSW Central Coast from Sydney.

The journey is part of the testing phase of the new fleet of 55 10 car trains and is one of the first of many trips to the Central Coast that the fleet will make, said local member Adam Crouch.

“The Central Coast and Newcastle Line will be the first in NSW to benefit from the New Intercity Fleet, which will deliver safer, more accessible and comfortable journeys,” Crouch said.

“The 24-hour-run Kangy Angy Maintenance Facility was purpose-built for the New Intercity Fleet, where the trains will be washed, maintained and serviced. It is close to 500,000 square metres in size, has about six kilometres of electric rail lines, a new rail bridge and offices and amenities for staff.”

The maintenance facility was completed in late August and was constructed by John Holland. UGL Rail will operate the facility as part of the RailConnect consortium which has built and designed and will maintain the fleet.

There are currently the trains from the New Intercity Fleet that are undergoing testing ahead of a larger roll-out later in 2020. The Central Coast and Newcastle Line will be the first line to have the fleet introduced into passenger service.

The New Intercity Fleet replace the V-set trains and come with accessibility and comfort upgrades, said NSW Minister for Transport Andrew Constance.

“Customers on the New Intercity Fleet will enjoy more spacious two-by-two seating, mobile device charging ports, modern heating and air conditioning, and dedicated spaces for luggage, prams and bicycles,” Constance said.

“Automatic Selective Door Operation, obstruction detection and traction interlocking are just some of the safety features on these new trains.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the trains are hoped to make public transport preferred for regional residents.

“These new trains are fully accessible for our less mobile customers, building upon our vision to help make public transport a first-choice option for people living in the regions,” said Toole.

Contractor announced for Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3 construction

John Holland has been nominated as the preferred contractor to deliver stage three of the Gold Coast Light Rail.

The $709 million joint local, state, and federally funded project, will extend the light rail line to Burleigh Heads from its current terminus in Broadbeach.

John Holland prevailed as the successful contractor over two competing joint ventures, one of CPB Contractors and Seymour Whyte Constructions and another between Fulton Hogan and UGL.

Stage three is expected to be completed in 2023 and adds eight stations and 6.7km of dual track to the network.

The Gold Coast light rail line has successfully increased public transport usage along the corridor, and was heavily patronised during the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Bailey said extending the line further south would improve on these figures.

“We’ve seen more than 50 million trips taken on light rail since it first opened, which shows just how hungry Gold Coasters and visitors to the city are for better public transport.”

Construction will come at a time when Queensland is looking to get people into job, particularly in areas such as the Gold Coast where tourism-reliant businesses have seen less demand due to COVID-19.

“Because Queenslanders have managed the health response of COVID-19, it means the Palaszczuk Government has been able to get on with the job of creating jobs and continuing the state’s plan for economic recovery,” said Bailey.

“For businesses and people on the Gold Coast that means building that all-important light rail connection between the city’s north and centre towards the south.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the project would support more local jobs.

“Light rail on the Gold Coast is already a key local employer, supporting about 800 operational jobs, and the extension to Burleigh is expected to support more than 760 construction jobs.”

Keolis Downer will continue to operate the extended line.

Keolis Downer awarded $2.14bn Adelaide train operations contract

Keolis Downer has been awarded the contract to operate and maintain Adelaide’s train services.

The eight-year contract begins on 31 January, 2021 when Keolis Downer will operate Adelaide’s six lines and a fleet of 92 railcars.

South Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Corey Wingard said the contract involved improvements for passengers.

“Keolis Downer will operate Adelaide’s train services for an initial eight-year period under a performance-based $2.14 billion contract focused on delivering significant improvements to the customer experience.”

Wingard said that Keolis Downer will implement a digitalised work platform for Passenger Service Assistants to enable them to spend more time with passengers.

The contract is the first heavy rail operations contract for the Keolis Downer joint venture. The company operates light rail in Melbourne, the Gold Coast, and Newcastle, as well as buses in NSW, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland.

According to David Franks, CEO of Keolis Downer, the operator hopes to improve customer services and increase the use of public transport in Adelaide.

“As a local public transport operator in South Australia for the past 20 years, we are excited to continue our partnership with DIT to deliver better train services in Adelaide,” Franks said.

“We are committed to partnering with local stakeholders and organisations to create value in South Australia and deliver the Government’s vision of a sustainable, revitalised train service for the people of Adelaide.”

Adelaide has seen steady growth in patronage on the rail network since 2014, when the Seaford and Tonsley lines were electrified. Further electrification of the Gawler line is currently underway.

“The electrification of the Gawler line is underway and through this project we will be introducing new electric trains with increased capacity,” said Franks.

The Tonsley line is also currently being extended, connecting Flinders University and Medical Centre to the rail network.

“These initiatives are real game changers and will transform the rail network. We are proud to be part of this journey with DIT,” said Franks.

Wingard highlighted that the state government retained ownership of infrastructure and and controls over aspects of the service.

“The state government still owns all the rail assets including tracks, trains and stations and will continue to have control of fare price, revenue, and standards for service levels.”

Keolis Downer was one of three consortiums shortlisted for the contract. The others were Adelaide Next, a consortium of Deutsche Bahn and John Holland with Bombardier as a subcontractor and TrainCo, a consortium of Transdev and CAF.

Torrens Connect

Torrens Connect takes on Adelaide tram operations

Torrens Connect has now assumed control over operations of Adelaide’s tram network and selected bus lines.

Announced as the successful tenderer for the outsourced operation of Adelaide’s tram services and some bus services in March, Torrens Connect took over operations from July 5 under an eight year contract.

The consortium of Torrens Transit, UGL Rail Services, and John Holland partnered with technology provider Trapeze Group to smoothen the transition process, occurring during the height of COVID-19.

Trapeze worked with Torrens Connect through the bid process and roll out of services, said Ben Dvoracek, Trapeze general manager for rail in Australia and New Zealand.

“We are proud to be part of this changeover, with Torrens Connect selecting Trapeze Group for both the bidding process and long-term roll-out of the planning and scheduling software solution. It was a pleasure to work with the team and facilitate implementation in less than four weeks.”

Trapeze, which provides planning and scheduling platforms as well as enterprise asset management and intelligent transport systems solutions for rail operators, was used to test plans ahead of operations. This testing and modelling process ensured that the transition occurred without any disruption or delay to services, schedules, or rosters. Torrens Connect staff received training from Trapeze locally to enable the smooth handover.

“Using the Trapeze software to run simulation models, Torrens Connect provided accurate optimised timetables that were quickly implemented without impacting operations,” said John Holland service delivery manager Rachel Parkin.

The contract covers 24 tram sets, 200 buses, and employment of over 250 staff.

As part of the privatisation of Adelaide’s public transport, operators are expected to undertake service improvements, with public consultation held earlier in 2020.

Port Botany

Tender released for Port Botany Rail duplication

The design and construct tender for the Port Botany Rail duplication has been released to the three shortlisted contractors.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), which is leading the project, has released the documentation to CPB Contractors, Laing O’Rouke Construction Australia, and John Holland, who were shortlisted in January.

Once complete, the $400 million federally funded project will allow for more freight to be transported to and from Port Botany via rail, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack.

“The Botany Rail Duplication will upgrade and duplicate the current single freight rail track between Mascot and Botany to increase the capacity of Sydney’s freight rail network while bolstering operational efficiency, flexibility and reliability for freight customers,” he said.

“This will create more than 400 jobs during construction and provide a welcome boost to all the hard-working local businesses who use the rail line to get their products to markets.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the project would enable a reduction in trucks travelling through local roads in Sydney.

Australia’s freight requirements are set to grow significantly over the coming decades. While this is great news for the industry and the Australian economy, it will place increasing pressure on our roads,” he said.

“I look forward to this transformative project getting underway so that Sydney, New South Wales and our national supply chain can reap the benefits.”

The Cabramatta Loop Project tender, which will allow freight trains to pass each other on the Southern Sydney Freight Line, will be released separately.

The Port Botany Rail duplication project was recently approved by the NSW government in its fast track process.

The project was also added to the Infrastructure Australia Infrastructure Priority List in August, 2020, recognising the need for greater freight rail capacity to and from Port Botany.

Construction work on NSW rail facilities pass major milestones

The new maintenance facility to serve NSW’s New Intercity Fleet (NIF) regional trains and utility relocation for the Parramatta Light Rail have been completed.

The maintenance facility, located at Kangy Angy on the NSW central coast, includes six kilometres of electric rail lines, spread across seven tracks at its widest point, as well as a rail bridge, access roads, offices and amenities.

Constructed by John Holland for Transport for NSW, the maintenance facility will be operated by UGL Rail as part of the RailConnect consortium which has built, designed, and will maintain the new fleet.

UGL is now hiring staff for the facility, said Minister for Transport Andrew Constance.

“The maintenance facility has created employment, skills development and business opportunities on the Central Coast during construction and that will all continue into operation,” he said.

Testing of the NIF fleet has begun in Australia on the Blue Mountains with three trains having arrived so far. A total fleet of 55 trains with 554 carriages will be delivered to NSW and maintained from the facility at Kangy Angy.

In Parramatta, work is continuing on the construction of the Parramatta Light Rail. A micro tunnelling machine is boring 10 metres a day under Church Street, in the Parramatta CBD, also known as Eat Street.

Program director Anand Thomas said that since February 2020, 300 utilities have been identified and relocated to allow for the streets to be prepared for the light rail line.

“The relocation of utilities in Eat Street, including high-voltage power cables that power the CBD, Sydney water mains, Jemena gas crossings, 500 metres of stormwater pipes and thousands of metres of conduit, is complete,” said Thomas.

“This is a major achievement that enables us to get on with the all-important job of building the network.”

Work to install street lights, tree pits, and drainage on Church Street is continuing ahead of the reopening of the street on November 1 for a three month period.

“From 1 November 2020, as part of our commitment to the community, construction on Eat Street will cease, hoardings will come down, outdoor dining will be temporarily restored and we will deliver activities and events to attract people to the CBD,” said Thomas.

Claremont

Contract awarded for tracklaying at Claremont Station

The Western Australian government has announced the successful tenderer for the $36 million contract for tracklaying at Claremont station.

John Holland is the successful contractor and will complete the works at the station, part of the Metronet project.

Scheduled for completion in late 2021, with rail infrastructure operational by mid 2021, the work involves installing turnbacks west of Claremont Station on the Fremantle line.

The turnbacks will allow trains to travel back towards the city after stopping at Claremont. This will allow greater frequency services on the Fremantle and Forrestfield-Airport Link lines. Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said that local and city-wide works required the new infrastructure.

“We know significant development is taking place around Claremont Station – which is currently the third-busiest on the Fremantle Line – and we expect patronage of this station to increase significantly, which is why this upgrade is so important,” she said.

“Claremont Station is located halfway along the Fremantle Line, so is ideally positioned to host turnbacks – it’s a vital part of ensuring our rail network is well-placed to deal with future demand particularly when the Forrestfield- Airport Link comes online in late 2021.”

During normal peak periods turnback one will be used every ten minutes. Turnback two will be used during peak periods and special events as required, or when there are planned or unplanned service disruptions.

In addition to the new track, Claremont station will be upgraded to meet accessibility standards and a new underpass will be constructed. Bus facilities and pedestrian connections are also part of the project.

Saffioti said that works would support the local economy.

“This $36 million contract will help support 300 local jobs in the community, an excellent outcome for the project.”

Work begins on $1.1bn Auckland rail upgrade

Construction has begun on major upgrades to the Auckland rail network, with improvements between Wiri and Quay Park, south of Auckland, the first works to kick off.

The work is part of the New Zealand Upgrade Programme’s NZ$1.1 billion ($1.02bn) rail package, which in Auckland will include electrification of Papakura to Pukekohe, and new train stations at Drury. Once complete in 2024, the upgrades will enable greater capacity for the City Rail Link (CRL) in central Auckland and a commuter service from Hamilton to Auckland.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said the work complemented each other.

“Building the third main rail line will remove a key bottleneck for freight and commuter services, as well as give more capacity for the increased services expected once the CRL is completed. The CRL along with the other upgrades will shave off up to an hour of the daily commute for thousands of people,” said Twyford.

The work will also improve the movement of freight through the urban area.

“Auckland is already the busiest rail freight corridor in New Zealand, with around six million tonnes coming to, from or across the city each year – the equivalent of 400,000 truck trips. This work will make freight services more reliable and make our roads safer by taking trucks off them and moving more freight to rail,” said Twyford.

State-owned operator KiwiRail announced that Downer NZ won the contract for the third main rail line between Wiri and Quay Park. Electrification works will be completed by eTRACS, a consortium of McConnell Dowell and John Holland. KiwiRail will lead on track and signals for both projects.

KiwiRail group chief executive Greg Miller said that it was good to see work beginning.

“This is a major investment in Auckland’s metro network, and we’re excited to be getting these projects underway,” he said.

“In the years ahead, rail will continue to play an increasingly important role in helping reduce New Zealand’s emissions for transport. KiwiRail also wants rail to be the mode of choice for freight movers, commuters and tourism opportunities. All those are underpinned by a modern, resilient network and that’s what this work will deliver.”

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said there would be clear local benefits.

“Hundreds of local contractors will be needed for this work and there will be spin-off benefits for local businesses, from lunch bars to local hardware stores. The vast majority of the materials used will be coming from the Auckland region – that’s creating work for quarries, concrete suppliers, steel fabricators and drainage companies.”

In addition to the new works, renewal around the network is also part of the transport upgrade program. This includes replacing 60km of track, tens of thousands of sleepers, and more than a hundred thousand tonnes of trackbed.

Tram leaving Broadwater Parklands on the Gold Coast Light Rail

Go-ahead for business case for Gold Coast Light Rail stage four

The Queensland and Gold Coast governments will jointly fund the business case for stage four of the Gold Coast Light Rail line.

Stage four, previously known as stage 3B, would see the light rail line extended for 13 kilometres from Burleigh to the Gold Coast Airport at Tugun, at the southern tip of the Gold Coast.

The $7 million business case would be funded in a 50/50 split between the state and local governments, said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

“This business case will support the next critical steps needed to push major transport investments on the Gold Coast forward which is vital for Queensland’s economic recovery,” the Premier said.

“This is about building a pipeline of projects that can continue to support and create jobs, boost our economy and improve transport for locals, particularly those living on the southern end of the Gold Coast.”

City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said that the connection would provide the public transport backbone for the region.

“It will result in a 40km public transport spine linking key employment, transport, health and education nodes, with an opportunity to also connect with the growing northern New South Wales economic region,” he said.

As part of the business case, options for future spur lines on east-west corridors will be investigated, and whether these should be served by light rail or feeder buses.

Currently, the Gold Coast light rail ends at Broadbeach. Stage 3A, which would extend the line from Broadbeach to Burleigh Heads, is awaiting the final announcement of the chosen contractor to build the link. In February, three contractors were shortlisted, John Holland, a joint venture between Fulton Hogan and UGL, and a joint venture between CPB Contractors and Seymour Whyte Constructions. Construction is expected to begin in 2021.

Tate said that he hopes construction of stage four would begin once stage three is complete.

“Ideally we will finish Stage 3 and immediately break ground on Stage 4.”

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said that the community preferred an alignment which travelled down the Gold Coast Highway. Other options suggested taking the light rail line west and using the existing heavy rail corridor, however 87 per cent of local respondents wanted to retain the option of future heavy rail to the airport.