Council needs to fast-track rail before gridlock
First train ride re-enacted for Queensland Rail's 150th birthday
Nambour a better option: Woombye anti-rail stabling group
South west Queensland pushes for more rail services for cattle
Tilt Trains set for a major overhaul
Ipswich celebrates heritage at Rail Museum on Open Day
Two rail lines earmarked for northern Australia
The $55.8 million dual gauge rail line from Acacia Ridge to Bromelton remains unfinished
Police investigate if fallen powerlines on Gold Coast train line work of vandals
Sourcing critical railway upgrade funding needs cool heads and smart solutions
THE Gold Coast can be delivered a light rail extension from Griffith University to the Helensvale railway station before the 2018 Commonwealth Games for less than $100 million, according to planners.
Documents obtained under Right To Information show Transport Minister Scott Emerson, his bureaucrats and Helensvale stakeholders have met privately to discuss a "missing rail link" plan.
The landowners' proposal is funding a new route west from the Parklands Drive station along Smith St to Parkwood and north through bushland along the transport corridor by the heavy rail, ending on the eastern side of the train station next to the shopping centre.
After briefing by Katarno strategic planners representing the businessmen, the Newman Government has agreed to funding $100,000 to "facilitate the proposal and ensure future transport requirements are not compromised".
"At face value, extension of the light rail network as proposed by this development has merit and warrants further investigation," a meeting brief note to Mr Emerson said.
Katarno director Paul Sparshott has confirmed "secret discussions" between an "informal alliance" of Helensvale stakeholders, which includes Westfield Helensvale, had occurred and talks were progressing.
"It's alive, and the Government have been very good," Mr Sparshott said.
The $1.2 billion first stage of the light rail with 16 stations along a 13km route from Parklands east to Broadbeach is due to begin operating next year.
Government documents reveal the Gold Coast City Council, for the project's second stage, want the connection west to the heavy rail line before the Games.
Newman Government bureaucrats, until now, regarded the extension as "not a requirement to support" the 2018 event.
While Mr Sparshott has declined to disclose commercial details, the documents include his letter to Mr Emerson, which says media reports costing the light rail extension to Helensvale at $800 million to $1 billion were "exaggerated".
At least $50 million could be saved by not building a heavy rail station at Parkwood, running the line down Smith St and using car parking at Helensvale's existing Park n Ride, Mr Sparshott wrote.
"We understand that the need for the missing link has gained some momentum since the announcement of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
"You are also aware that the Gold Coast City Council has now included in their transport plans a light rail connection to Parkwood that includes a new QR station.
"Our studies indicate the Parkwood option to be a very expensive alternative compared to the Helensvale option," he wrote.
Mr Sparshott referred to media reports about GoldLinQ attempting to raise $400 million in equity for a Parkwood link and negotiating a deal to extend its operational contract from 15 to 28 years.
"Quantity Surveyors Aquenta have prepared an estimate for our proposed Smith St rail option from Parklands," the letter said.
"The cost estimate is significantly less than $100 million. Aquenta are well qualified to make this assessment as they have prepared many of the cost estimates for stage one of the Gold Coast Light Rail.
"We have refrained from advising the press on our lower cost estimates as we would prefer to have direct confidential dialogue with the Government."
The documents also show Government and council differ on a preferred northern extension route.
A briefing note to the Minister said: "TMR's preferred route is ... from Parklands to Helensvale via Olsen Ave and Brisbane Rd."
It explains that Transport Department studies had identified the next priority for light rail was south of Broadbeach to Burleigh Heads, not a connection to Helensvale.
The Government was working with the council to revisit light rail options first investigated in 2007, and until that planning was complete Olsen Ave and Brisbane Rd remained the preferred option.
"Any work undertaken by TMR in relation to this (Helensvale) development proposal is not be interpreted as an endorsement of the proposal or pre-emption of the outcome," the note said.
The Parkwood connection is supported by Committee of Southport chairman John Howe and Gaven state Independent MP Alex Douglas.
"Helensvale is strongly congested," Mr Howe said.
"The extra time for light rail to Helensvale is too long. In our view this (link to Parkwood) is a city-making project. Other connections will come in the future."
Dr Douglas has been briefed on the Parkwood proposal and considers the GoldLinQ price to be "pretty reasonable". But supporters of Helensvale will argue the topography and station costs are a deterrent.
This article first appeared on www.goldcoast.com.au
About this website
Railpage version 3.10.0.0037
All logos and trademarks in this site are property of their respective owner. The comments are property of their posters, all the rest is © 2003-2021 Interactive Omnimedia Pty Ltd.
You can syndicate our news using one of the RSS feeds.