THE final piece of track has been connected on Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 2 and the future of the G:Link has been cemented with $5 million towards developing a business case for Stage 3, the Queensland Government announced last week.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the final weld was an exciting milestone in the countdown to the commencement of passenger services early next year.
"Light Rail has fundamentally changed public transport on the Gold Coast and once Stage 2 opens people will be able to travel seamlessly across the Coast and to Brisbane," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"The improved rail connectivity between Queensland's two largest cities has been embraced by the people of the Gold Coast and will help drive future growth and opportunity.
"GCLR Stage 2 is also stimulating positive economic activity in the city, with 1,600 local jobs created through construction.
"In recognition of how transformative GCLR has been I am very happy to announce that my Government is committing $5 million for the development of a detailed business case for Stage 3A in collaboration with Gold Coast City Council."
Deputy Premier and Minister for Transport Jackie Trad said that GCLR Stage 2 was progressing well and due to be ready before the Commonwealth Games. In the coming weeks, the wires carrying power to the trams will be energised and the community will start seeing the testing of trams.
"We are delivering world-class public transport infrastructure for the Gold Coast and with the capacity improvements on the Gold Coast Line that will be delivered by Cross River Rail and Stage 2 of the Light Rail set to open the future is looking good," Ms Trad said.
"With that in mind, the time is right to start planning for a third light rail extension from Broadbeach South to Burleigh Heads and it is great news that we are getting the business case process underway."
City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the Gold Coast was one of the fastest growing cities and Australia's holiday playground, attracting over 12 million visitors annually.
"We know that the Gold Coast is growing and extending the G:Link will help to make sure we're ready for that growth and connect our community like never before," Cr Tate said.
"Besides underpinning a truly world class integrated public transport system, the light rail is assisting council in meeting our objectives of increasing accessibility to key activity centres, and reducing congestion on the roads.
"I'm very happy with the funding committed to the business case for Stage 3A and will be continuing to work closely with the Palaszczuk Government as we work to deliver this project."
GoldlinQ Chairman John Witheriff said a great deal of work had gone in to reaching this point, including the removal of two large sections of rock along Smith Street Motorway, which was a critical element that allowed rail works to advance.
"Motorists who drive the Smith Street Motorway would have seen the works at the end of Uplands Drive where we have removed about 84,000 tonnes of rock, which has reduced the height of the hillside by about 18 metres," Mr Witheriff said.