Home' Future Building Australian Infrastructure Review : December 2010 Contents Poole says that the need for the Gold
Coast Rapid Transit arose out of government
planning that started in the 1990s, when
it was recognised that there was limited
scope for improving Gold Coast roads to
cope with rapidly rising congestion levels.
What was needed instead was some
carefully coordinated planning around road
alternatives. The Gold Coast Rapid Transit
project was just the solution to achieve
'The Gold Coast doesn't have a central
business district,' Poole says. 'It has a series
of coastal buildings that have grown beyond
their ability to support each other. This mass
transit system was designed and evolved on
the basis of it being part of the future of the
'It grew out of a planning process and
community consultation on the basis that
we were connecting the city with a high
capacity people mover to give people
'There was a realisation that the Gold
Coast couldn’t sustain itself without a high-
quality public transport system,' Poole says.
‘That provided the idea of a high-capacity
spine down the coast, and an improved bus
system feeding the residential areas in the
west. This is about being able to provide
accessibility and get people in and out of
those big commercial, retail and residential
hubs such as Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach
and Southport, all of which are signifcant
growth areas for the Gold Coast.'
He says the planning has already gone
through a business case process, securing
all three levels of government funding.
The Queensland Government will now
undertake early construction for the next 18
months. 'We are halfway through the tender
process for the light rail system that will be
delivered as a public private partnership,'
In addition to the three tiers of
government working together, the project
has some other features that make it
What makes this project special is that
it is the frst Australian public transport
PPP that will see the private sector operate
the rolling stock as well as delivering the
Gold Coast Rapid Transit will be the frst
light rail of its type in Australia where an
entirely new corridor and light rail system
is constructed. It contrasts to the systems
in Sydney and Adelaide that mainly use
existing rail corridors. 'It's about providing a
system that takes people where they want to
go rather than fnding a corridor that’s easy
to develop and building around it. It's very
much responding to the existing and future
land use of the Gold Coast,' he says.
Poole estimates that the project will
bring $1.5 billion of economic benefts to
the Gold Coast.
'If people can move more freely
between various activity centres, it's going
to generate activity,' he says.
'Businesses will want to be located
in those areas, people will want to live
there. They won't have to rely so much
on their cars, and they will have more
surplus income to spend on other things.
It's very much built around the idea of it
being the centrepiece of a city that will
continue to grow.'
In addition to that, it is also increasing
the value of property near the line. 'We're
already seeing developers using the system
as a selling point.'
The Way Ahead
The successful completion of the Cross
River Rail and Gold Coast Rapid Transit
projects will be critical in tackling the
congestion challenges in Queensland's
Whilst the state has maintained
historically high levels of infrastructure
investment, even this record expenditure has
not been able to keep pace with increasing
demand from the region's population
The engagement and investment of the
private sector is an important component
of addressing Queensland's future
The use of a public private partnership to
deliver the Gold Coast Rapid Transit project
is a very welcome signal of Queensland's
growing appetite for innovative fnancing
and delivery models. The successful
procurement of a range of motorway
projects and, more recently, the use of
social infrastructure PPPs for schools -- and
soon, the Sunshine Coast Hospital -- means
there is a signifcant and growing body of
expertise within the professional public
Queensland should ensure that it
continues to harness growing public sector
expertise and private sector innovation and
skill to address its most pressing transport
challenges -- including the Cross River Rail
Queensland's urban rail renaissance
Australian Rail Track Corporation continues
to grow and develop Australia’s interstate
Over the past two years, ARTC has been
upgrading the East Coast interstate rail
system including a $2.6 billion improvement
programme to upgrade the rail corridor
between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
The majority of key projects have now
been completed with the new timetables
already revealing savings in transit times.
The $1 billion productivity investment by
the Australian Government in the May
2010 Budget will allow ARTC to continue
improvements on the main North South
and East West rail corridors.
ARTC’s investment in the Hunter Valley has
continued unabated, and is designed to
expand capacity along the rail corridors
connecting Hunter Valley coal mines to the
Port of Newcastle.
There is more to be done, and ARTC is
determined to continue the resurgence in
rail as a value adding asset in the national
transport logistics framework.
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