The NSW Government is considering spending half a billion dollars to extend the Gold Coast light rail service 4.5km from Coolangatta to the Tweed City shopping mall.
The announcement, made by Tweed MP Geoff Provest (Nationals) yesterday, follows on from Tweed Council’s recent announcement to build a bike path over the Murwillumbah section of the old railway corridor, and reinforces the government’s determination to focus its public transport resources on high-growth coastal areas.
Mr Provest told Echonetdaily the project was still very much in the early planning stages, with the government appointing the consortium currently building the Gold Coast light rail to conduct a $2 million feasibility study on the construction of the line.
That would be followed by a more detailed engineering report, he said.
The Gold Coast light-rail is expected to take five to seven years to reach Coolangatta, via Gold Coast Airport, using sections the old Gold Coast railway corridor, ‘which had the tracks ripped up in 1964’, Mr Provest said.
‘It ticks a lot of good boxes; Tweed City have announced a $300 million upgrade and expansion; and it brings 21st century transport to the Tweed for the first time.
‘The road reserve to Tweed City is wide enough to accommodate the light rail.
‘I want to lock in something for the future, so it’s really important to clarify and lock away the route so that when it gets to the airport we’ve got the ability to bring it down into the Tweed,’ he said.
Mr Provest said the next study, which he’s hoping to get funding for, would look at the engineering challenges of the route.
‘In the middle of that route you’ve got Terranora Inlet and Boyds Bay Bridge, so that’s a potential difficulty.
‘But if I look at the success of the light rail in Main Beach and Broadbeach, and also the potential of the light rail in Sydney from George Street out to Randwick, it gives a tremendous economic lift to the local area.
‘Tweed has 20,000 new home sites coming on line in the next five to seven years, so that’s just over 40,000 new people on our roads and congestion.
‘So I think we should now really focus on public transport options for the next 10 years – its 21st century stuff.
‘We’ve got new hospitals, we’ve got new police stations – and they are really great things – but really we’ve made no advancement on public transport in this region and I think this is a really crucial step to identify that route and have it locked away – and then seek funding to actually do it,’ he said.
Mr Provest said that the state government would not be seeking co-funding from either the Gold Coast or Tweed councils towards the cost of the line, but added they were ‘important stakeholders that we have already begun consulting with’.