HELENSVALE station is set to become the most advanced, modern public transport interchange in the country, with major works now underway to build the $420 million Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 2 extension, the Australian and Queensland governments announced earlier this week.
Queensland Minister for Transport and the Commonwealth Games Stirling Hinchliffe joined Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher and City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate, to officially turn the sod and mark the start of infrastructure construction.
"Construction work will now accelerate in the race towards the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and will support up to 1000 direct and indirect jobs during construction and operation," Mr Hinchliffe said.
"In an Australian-first, the Stage 2 project will also deliver the first public transport station that will integrate all modes of passenger transport.
"The project will transform Helensvale station into a key public transport connector with heavy rail, light rail, buses and taxis within the same station footprint.
"Importantly Stage 2 will link Brisbane and the Gold Coast by rail with Helensvale becoming the vital connection in a one-transfer journey.
"This public transport hub will provide a bold new point of entry to the area and will also support the 2018 Commonwealth Games transport task with up to 3000 people an hour able to be moved by light rail from Helensvale into Southport, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach.
"Four new trams will be required to service Stage 2 and they have already been ordered. They will be built in Germany and arrive in Australia by October 2017 and a total of 18 light rail vehicles will service both stages."
Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher said when stage 2 operations begin in early 2018, public transport users will have a one-transfer journey from Brisbane to the Gold Coast and the option of stopping at any of the 19 light rail stations with bus connections at key activity centres between Helensvale and Broadbeach.
"Helensvale Station on the Gold Coast will become a modern, multi-purpose transport hub providing local and international visitors with effective and flexible transport options in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2018," Mr Fletcher said.
"But it will of course deliver continuing benefits following the Games, offering light rail connectivity between key Gold Coast locations and connecting to the heavy rail network at Helensvale. This will bring benefits for many years, as the transport task expands in line with expected population and economic growth on the Gold Coast."
Mayor Tom Tate said the Stage 2 light rail connection and duplication of the heavy rail line from Helensvale to Coomera would also unlock further economic potential for the region with the public already seeing this growth on two parcels of land near Helensvale station.
Private developer Villawood will build a 620-house and 1500-apartment estate on the site of the former Gold Coast Country Club. Another developer Villa World plans to develop former farmland just to the south into the 395-lot Arundel Springs project.
"Future residents of these developments will have easy access to the Helensvale transport interchange and by extending the existing light rail system it will ease congestion, improve accessibility across the region and support economic growth," Cr Tate said.
GoldLinQ Chairman John Witheriff said construction activity would continue across the alignment into the second half of 2017 when testing and commissioning of the Stage 2 extension was scheduled.
"There will be significant construction activity over the next 12 months as we focus on delivering this vital infrastructure however all efforts will be made to minimise the impact on residents and motorists," Mr Witheriff said.
Stage 2 will include three new light rail stations at Parkwood East, Parkwood and Helensvale and an extra 1400 park'n'ride carparks at Helensvale and Parkwood stations.
The $420 million project will be delivered with a $270 million contribution from the Queensland Government, $95 million from the Australian Government and up to $55 million from the City of Gold Coast.