Burleigh could be connected to Gold Coast Airport sooner than planned

Light Rail spur could mean big things for West Burleigh

A rail connection between Burleigh Heads and Gold Coast Airport could be fast-tracked after Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate had a change of heart over the city’s level of support for a South East Queensland Olympic Games bid.

The turnaround comes after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced in late June that new changes to the rules would now allow regions, and even countries, to host the Olympic Games, rather than just cities alone.

Mayor Tate had originally been unsupportive of a proposed bid financed by a collection of Local Government Councils in South East Queensland, however the recent IOC rule changes has caused a re-think.

Speaking to the Gold Coast Bulletin, Mayor Tate, said that if bidding for the Games would attract more State and Commonwealth funding to fast-track much needed transport upgrades including the extension of the light rail, a fast train from the airport to Brisbane and a second M1 motorway known as the ‘Coomera Connector’, then he would fully support the project.

“I see it as a bid with plenty of infrastructure implementation to go with it,” Mayor Tate told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

“Infrastructure will charge up the whole southeast through a co-ordinated effort to ensure it is a regional games.

 “This spending has to be done anyway but the Olympics mean it would have advance sooner.”

Stage 3A of G:Link, the Gold Coast’s light rail network will see the railway extend from Broadbeach to Burleigh Heads with the first trams running by 2023. The project has received the green light from all levels of government and construction could start early next year.

The next stage, Stage 3B, would see the light rail network extend from Burleigh Heads to the Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta, however the route it would take is still a hot topic of discussion.

fly-through video released by The Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) shows the provision for a spur line running west from the yet-to-be-constructed Burleigh Heads station on the Gold Coast Highway along West Burleigh Road and connecting to the heavy rail station at Varsity Lakes. A rail connection to the airport, whether light or heavy, could then be made from the Varsity Lakes station along the existing, preserved rail corridor that shadows the M1 motorway.

Mark Smith from PRDnationwide Burleigh Heads said, “While the project in still in the very early stages and subject to change after public consultation, the inclusion of the spur shows the government is confident that West Burleigh is a substantial future growth area.”

However, according to the Gold Coast City Transport Strategy 2031, the rail line is earmarked to reach the airport on a coastal route, along the existing Gold Coast Highway. While this route would be quicker and include more areas popular with tourists, it is also narrow, heavily built up and would attract considerable protest from locals.

The Strategy notes that is route is subject to further investigation and public consultation.

“Whichever route the light rail takes, a fast and reliable public transport connection from the airport to Burleigh will bring substantial benefits to the area,” Mr Smith said, “Property prices will benefit and so will local business.