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A RETIRED development analyst has warned the Sunshine Coast not to follow the Gold Coast by installing a light rail network.
Alan Midwood, who wrote the Midwood Report on property investment, has described the Gold Coast light rail project as a cost burden that has already proven a failure.
The Sunshine Coast Council has endorsed light rail as its vision for public transport and has begun studying the business case and feasibility of a system, including potential routes.
The first stage of a light rail system on the Sunshine Coast has been put at $1.3 billion.
In a letter to the Daily, Mr Midwood said the cost of the Gold Coast light rail had blown out from an original $360 million to $1.85 billion and was still rising.
While construction of the Gold Coast system was expected to cost $1.1 billion, another $750 million was needed to widen roads and replace hydraulic, electric and telephone services underneath that would be inaccessible once the tracks were down.
Mr Midwood said $365 million of the Gold Coast's money was coming from the Australian Investment Fund, and $1.365 billion was being borne by the State Government, but the Sunshine Coast could not expect such hand-outs.
"Readers can make their own assessment of that happening again under the Campbell Newman Government," he said.
Mr Midwood said the Gold Coast did not have the population base to support light rail and the Sunshine Coast even less so.
He said the benefits of light rail did not outweigh the costs.
Businesses along the Gold Coast's route were losing trade during construction, 2000 car parking spaces would be lost, and the light rail tram cars would impede the flow of traffic which would have to stop every time passengers alighted, he said.
A Sunshine Coast Council spokesperson said the council would continue to work closely with Gold Coast and TransLink colleagues during analysis of the feasibility and business case for the project.
"If it doesn't measure up it won't proceed. This is fundamentally what a feasibility assessment is all about," the spokesperson said.
They said light rail had been the preferred option in similar environments around the world.
This article first appeared on www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au
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