Gold Coast Light Rail to begin construction to Burleigh Heads

Infrastructure Australia has announced Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A as a priority project in 2020 and major construction works are set to begin by mid-year.

The Infrastructure priority list (IPL) has recognised the largest number of  infrastructure proposals of national significance on record.

In August last year, IA added Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A project to the Infrastructure Priority List as a Priority Project. This was confirmed on the in our latest edition of the Infrastructure Priority List on Wednesday, 26th February. 

Infrastructure Australia said this project, known as Stage 3A, would replace existing bus services between Broadbeach South and Burleigh Heads with light rail services and implement a complementary urban renewal and economic development strategy in the corridor.

The strategic case depends on the project’s ability to shift travel from cars to light rail. 

$709 million in funding was locked in by the federal government in late November last year.

This follows the Morrison Government’s increased investment by $157 million, and the state government’s $351 million and council’s $92 million spend on the project.

Stage 3A is now progressing toward construction this year, with three proponents shortlisted to build the light rail extension to Burleigh Heads.

GoldlinQ, who currently operates the light rail, announced on February 3 that they will now invite the three proponents to proceed to the ‘request for tender’ phase.

GoldlinQ Chairman John Witheriff said each of the shortlisted tenderers was highly experienced construction contractors. GoldlinQ board met on Friday 31 January to complete the EOI phase and confirm the shortlist for tender.

“EOI submissions include leading Australian and international contractors and the responses were of a very high standard,” Witheriff said.

“The request for tender period will start immediately and continue for several months to ensure the successful contractor can deliver value for money and minimise disruption during construction.”

 Witheriff said the request for tender phase would conclude in May 2020 with the intention of appointing a preferred contractor in the second half of 2020.

Stage 3A is due for completion in 2023.

One-stop-shop for LRV operations

Tehnika’s Matt Burey explains the benefits of a single supervisory interface for light rail vehicle operations.

Brisbane-based software firm Tehnika will be showing off its t-visor RAIL platform at the Australasian Railway Association’s Light Rail 2020 conference in Canberra in March.

Already used extensively on the Canberra Light Rail and Gold Coast Light Rail systems, t-visor aims to provide a single platform for a range of different systems, including Automatic Vehicle Location, traffic light and priority management, signalling, timetable and performance monitoring and automatic vehicle location, and interface with external software applications, traction power SCADA, infrastructure SCADA, passenger information, public address, CCTV, and platform information displays. Feature rich, t-visor also has comprehensive performance monitoring to assist operators manage KPIs, network monitoring and stray current monitoring.

Modern and highly scalable, the t-visor RAIL software platform is described by Tehnika chief technology officer, Matt Burey, as “the most advanced supervisory platform designed for light rail currently available on the market”.

“Having a single user interface means operators don’t need to log into multiple different systems,” Burey said. “This saves time and ensures operators can be focused on the task at hand and not get distracted or interrupted by having to switch systems.”

Furthermore: “Front line operators only need to be trained on one system and not each individual sub-system – there’s no need to remember different passwords and the unique way each disparate sub-system functions.”

This single-platform approach also means the LRV operator is not bombarded with unnecessary information.

“Only relevant and system critical information needs to be displayed or made visible to operators which results in them being better focused on their operational role.”

Tehnika’s in-house team to build and develop its systems, and Burey believes this is a key differentiator and a major advantage working within the local rail sector.

“Having local resources means we have the flexibility and the agility to respond immediately to changes in client demands or project scope,” he said. “Our significant investment in research and development means Tehnika is able to develop, test, and deploy proven and fit-for-purpose solutions that are unique to the Australian market.”

Burey told Rail Express the supervisory platform was designed specifically to provide light rail operators with a single, seamlessly integrated solution for a full range of control and monitoring systems.

Interfacing with passenger information, t-visor allows for fully programmable messages with both automatically recurring and custom, one off messages, images, and videos, Burey explained.

“By integrating public address systems, operators are able to record and play specific messages on demand as well as record one off messages for special events,” he said.

Along with PA systems, t-visor can also incorporate situationally aware CCTV feeds which automatically start when the emergency help or information button is pressed or other alarms are raised.

The platform’s Automatic Vehicle Location function uses a combination of GPS, vehicle odometers, and trackside equipment to display the exact location of a light rail vehicle. The AVLS also presents a real time view of rail signalling, point positions and track occupancy.

“Each LRV trip is tracked against the planned timetable providing the operator with an interactive display that clearly shows service punctuality and/or headway,” he said. “t-visor’s traffic signalling priority system (TSPS) is fully integrated with SCATS and STREAMs. The TSPS function provides detailed intersection status and request priority when an LRV approaches an intersection. It also allows operators to request a manual White T from the OCC.”

Additionally, light rail vehicles and any other equipment such as radio handsets can be tracked using a geolocation map, Burey added.

The system’s traction power SCADA feature allows operators and users of the system to remotely monitor electrical traction supply and perform isolation/energisation. The system also provides power quality and stray current monitoring and energisation status including DC overhead lines and AC feeder lines.

Tehnika’s team is exhibiting at the ARA Light Rail 2020 event in Canberra on March 2-3.

QLD Government still deciding on next route for Gold Coast Light Rail

The Queensland Government has confirmed the Department of Transport and Main Roads have not decided on a route for Stage 3B of the Gold Coast light rail that could potentially pass through Palm Beach.

The QLD Government’s current focus is Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A project which is listed as a priority project on the National Infrastructure Priority List.

A spokesperson from QLD Government ministerial office said the Gold Coast City Council are currently undertaking community consultation relating to the next stage of light rail that could potentially pass through Palm Beach to Coolangatta airport, known as Stage 3B of the project.

Land resumptions are currently not occurring in the proposed locations the spokesperson said.

“Some residents in Palm Beach believe a future decision to build light rail through their community would give council the impetus to support high rise buildings, like further north on the Gold Coast, however this decision won’t be made for some time,” he said.

“The next stage is to announce the construction contract in the first half of 2020 and start work at some stage this year.”

GoldlinQ, who currently operates the light rail, have started conducting the expressions of interest process and an industry briefing in December.

GoldlinQ Chairman John Witheriff said the competitive tender process for design and construction would start with interest being sought from leading national and international companies.

“A shortlist of selected contractors will be determined early this year with a detailed tender process to follow, allowing a construction partner to be appointed and major works to start in the second half of 2020,” Witheriff said.

$709 million in funding was locked in by the federal government in late November last year.

This follows the Morrison Government’s increased investment by $157 million, and the state government’s $351 million and council’s $92 million spend on the project.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the additional commitment brought the federal contribution to the project to $269 million.

Stage 3A will extend light rail 6.7 kilometres south from Broadbeach South to Burleigh Heads, with eight new light rail stops.

The Gold Coast City Council stated in a preliminary business case report that Stage 3A will bring $1.2 billion economic benefits to the region.

Mayor of the City of Gold Coast Tom Tate said he looked forward to Stage 3A now progressing toward construction – supporting approximately 760 jobs during construction.

“We hope to get shovels in the ground in the near future on this crucial project for residents and visitors to the Gold Coast alike, with construction likely to take about two years to complete once underway in 2020,” Tate said.

The Australian Government partnered with the Queensland Government and the City of Gold Coast to jointly fund and deliver Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the Gold Coast Light Rail project.

Construction of Stage 3A is likely to run until 2023.

Tram leaving Broadwater Parklands on the Gold Coast Light Rail

GoldlinQ leads Gold Coast Light Rail construction tender process

GoldlinQ has been appointed, by the Queensland government, to lead the construction tender process for the Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A project.

GoldlinQ chairman John Witheriff said the competitive tender process for design and construction would start by seeking interest from leading national and international companies.

“A shortlist of selected contractors will be determined early next year with a detailed tender process to follow, allowing a construction partner to be appointed and major works to start in the second half of 2020,” Witheriff said.

“Lessons learnt from Stage 1 were implemented in the delivery of Stage 2 and our focus is on ensuring value for money, an innovative construction approach and minimising community impacts.

“We are partnering with government to deliver this project and will work closely with industry throughout the process.”

The 6.4-kilometre southern extension is being fast-tracked after the federal government recently made an additional funding commitment of $157 million towards the project.

“Gold Coasters and people from across the world have embraced the G (light rail), with more than 42 million trips taken since stage one opened five years ago,” transport and main roads minister Mark Bailey said.

The state government and City of Gold Coast released a reference design for Stage 3A in 2018, as per which the 4km extension will be built in the centre of the Gold Coast Highway with eight stations between Broadbeach South light rail station and Burleigh Heads.

Construction is expected to take about three years, with light rail services to Burleigh expected to be operational in 2023.

Federal member for McPherson Karen Andrews said extending the Light Rail south to Burleigh would support the urban renewal of the Gold Coast – allowing commuters to travel between Broadbeach South Station and Burleigh Heads in just 16-17 minutes.

“Improving local public transport and making our city more connected will ensure the Gold Coast keeps pace with our projected population growth,” Andrews said.

Businesses want Gold Coast model for Parramatta Light Rail

In response to the federal government’s contribution to the expansion of the Gold Coast Light Rail, the Western Sydney Business Chamber is calling for more federal funding for stage two of Sydney’s Parramatta Light Rail.

Last Friday’s announcement of a federal infrastructure package for Queensland, which included a $157 million contribution towards Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A, has prompted the business advocacy organisation to criticise the lack of funding for Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2.

Federal funds make up approximately 38% of the total cost of the Stage 3A expansion of the Gold Coast Light Rail, with the Queensland Government and Gold Coast Council funding the remainder.

“The economic corridor between Sydney CBD and Parramatta is one of the most important in the nation, yet the Federal Government is missing when it comes to funding the transport infrastructure that will unlock thousands of new homes and jobs,” Western Sydney Business Chamber’s executive director David Borger said.

“With the NSW Government yet to make an investment decision and with the announcement looking very unlikely this year, we need the Prime Minister to be the white knight of G-POP [Greater Parramatta and the Olympic Peninsula] and come to the table with funding.”

“Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 is a vital project that will ensure that the multi-billion investment in Sydney Metro West works. Stage 2 connects the high-density communities of Wentworth Point and Melrose Park with the metro network.

“If the Federal Government has money for Gold Coast Light Rail then surely it has a role to play in contributing funding to a light rail project in the heart of Australia’s most economically important city,” Borger said.

Tram leaving Broadwater Parklands on the Gold Coast Light Rail

Gold Coast light rail hits five-year service milestone

Gold Coast’s tram network G:link will celebrate its fifth anniversary tomorrow, having served more than 42 million passengers since its 2014 launch.

The 20-kilometre route, comprising of 19 stations and colloquially called ‘The Goldy’, was first announced in 2009 by the Bligh Labor Government and made its first public journey from Broadbeach South to Gold Coast University Hospital five years later. Stage two of the project, a 7.3-kilometre extension running from the hospital to Helensvale, opened to passengers in December 2017.      

The state government is now working towards delivering stage three of the project, involving the construction of track from Broadbeach to Burleigh.

“G:link has been the star performer of South East Queensland’s public transport, driven patronage growth of 50 per cent across the entire on the Gold Coast public transport network,” said Member for Gaven Meaghan Scanlon.

“The numbers of people catching trams continue to climb too, with more than 10.74 million passenger trips taken in 2018-19.”

Both stages of the project have delivered major employment to the region, with around 90 per cent of the 1000 construction workers across both stages of the project coming from either the Gold Coast or South East Queensland areas. The project has also supported around 200 ongoing operational jobs associated with running the light rail.