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Four months before the 2018 Commonwealth Games begin on the Gold Coast, the Gold Coast light rail network has been connected to the main rail line running to Brisbane.
The job completion comes as public transport figures show a 30 per cent increase in the number of Gold Coast residents using public transport as light rail and bus transport is improved.
The $442 million second extension of the Gold Coast light rail network – called the G-Link – has been connected at Helensvale Rail Station.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate and Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad take a ride on light rail.
Photo: Tony Moore
Passengers travelling between the Gold Coast and Brisbane can now use the heavy rail and light rail connection to travel more easily to the heart of the Gold Coast.
The new rail schedule to get fans to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which will involve some new generation trains, will be one of the most awaited announcements of early 2018.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has already told Fairfax Media trains are planned every 10 minutes.
The 7.3 kilometre connection was designed specifically to ready south-east Queensland for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which are being held in April 2018.
Work on the extension from the Gold Coast University Hospital campus - where the first stage of the light rail ends - to Helensvale began in April 2016.
The new rail connection has three new stations and park ‘n ride spaces for 1400 cars.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull riding the Gold Coast light rail.
Photo: Scott Fletcher
Two new stations on the light rail connection out to Helensvale between Parkwood and Helensvale are included in the plans for the future.
The light rail extension is funded by all three levels of government; federal, state and the local Gold Coast City Council.
The Australian Government contributed $95 million, the Queensland Government the majority share $270 million and Gold Coast City Council $55 million.
Ms Trad, who had led negotiations with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate to win support from the Australian government for the project, welcomed the project’s completion and rode the first train into the Gold Coast on Sunday.
“It is fantastic to be standing here several months out from the Games and see the community already benefitting from this city-building infrastructure,” Ms Trad said.
“Light rail on the Gold Coast is a resounding success and the extended tram system will help ease congestion now and into the future as the city continues to grow.”
Federal minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher said Gold Coast residents were increasingly taking up public transport.
“Since light rail was introduced on the Gold Coast, the overall number of public transport trips each year has increased by more than 30 per cent, which demonstrates how public transport investment is a key priority for managing traffic growth in Australia.”
Mr Tate, who has long championed extending the successful Gold Coast light rail network, said the Gold Coast was now seeing the benefit from earlier stages of their light rail network.
“Over the past 18 months many locals have benefitted from construction jobs and we can now see new homes being built along the corridor, which ensures ongoing opportunities for employment,” he said.
“The G -Link system is a great example of the three levels of government coming together to deliver transport infrastructure that benefits the entire community.”
The Queensland Opposition questioned the timing of scheduled maintenance on Sunday on the main Gold Coast line while the light rail connection was opened.
Rail maintenance is always scheduled for times when fewest customers are using the rail line.
That normally falls on a Sunday, rather than interrupting Monday to Friday services, a QR spokesperson said.
This article first appeared on www.brisbanetimes.com.au
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