STAGE 2 of Gold Coast Light Rail has been delivered ahead of schedule, with the first passenger service on the $420 million, 7.3-kilometre extension taking place on December 17 following an 18-month construction program.
Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey, said the Stage 2 extension from Gold Coast University Hospital to Helensvale Station included three light rail stations at Helensvale, Parkwood and Parkwood East, and two park and ride facilities offering 1,400 commuter parking spaces.
Provision for two future stations between Parkwood and Helensvale has also been included as part of the project. A feasibility study and reference design for proposed Section 3A from Broadbeach to Burleigh Heads is currently under way.
"The light rail now links many key locations throughout the city including retail, employment, education, residential and tourist areas," Mr Bailey said.
"As has proven to be the case with Stage 1, once people experience riding the G: they quickly realise that it is the easiest and best way to travel through the most urbanised areas of the Gold Coast.
"With frequent services every seven and a half minutes in peak, every time a passenger steps on board a tram, they can be confident they will arrive at their destination station on time. The G:link trams frequently achieve on-time running time each month, which is fantastic news."
Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher said the light rail network provided an alternative way to move around the Gold Coast. The extension to Helensvale also means that for the first time, passengers can travel by tram from Broadbeach to Helensvale Station to connect with heavy rail services to Brisbane and beyond.
"The newly opened Stage 2 corridor will provide a reliable, affordable and convenient connection with the wider South East Queensland rail network," Mr Fletcher said.
"Congestion in Australia's major cities costs more than $16 billion a year and public transport is an important investment in the future of the Gold Coast with the city's population forecast to reach 800,000 by 2031.
"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."
City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said light rail has acted as a catalyst for economic investment and evidence of this trend continuing along the extended rail corridor was visible with several significant residential communities underway.
"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.
Works on Stage 2 commenced in July 2016 following the appointment of CPB Contractors as GoldlinQ's design and construction partner. It was funded by the Australian Government ($95 million), the Queensland Government ($270 million) and Gold Coast City Council ($55 million).