Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia - Queensland’s Gold Coast has long been a world famous destination and with the upcoming 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games an investment of $1.2 billion in a world-class light rail system means the city is on track to stay there.
The Gold Coast is rapidly re-shaping itself as a contemporary and sustainable urban hub, but with the use of public transport by visitors and residents the lowest of any major Australian city it was time for an integrated public transport system that included a fast, convenient light rail. The Gold Coast Light Rail (GCLR) delivers just that by spanning a 13 kilometre corridor, connecting major activity zones like Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise and Southport and boosting urban and economic growth around sixteen specifically-designed stations.
The Stage 1 system was commissioned by the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads on behalf of the State Government and GoldLinQ. Arcadis in a joint venture with APP Corporation (APP), undertook the Independent Verifier and Independent Certifier roles for the design, procurement, construction, commissioning and closeout of Stage 1 under a project-specific, unifying ‘CERT -TRAM’ banner.
Such a high profile, high investment initiative came with a number of key challenges. To avoid undue impact on the wider community and carefully manage the expectations and experience of all project stakeholders, CERT-TRAM proactively embedded a full-time communications resource to encourage rapid, seamless and coordinated information flow. Skilled communication was also key to CERT-TRAM’s role both as an independent verifier and a skilled advisor to Queensland Government agencies and GoldLinQ, implementing a network of dedicated surveillance officers and project engineers to each of the project’s five separate ‘zones’, and instigating the use of monthly progress reports to make sure information was timely and accurate.
Engineering and technical innovation were key. Drawing on previous experience from similar projects like the Taiwan High Speed Rail, CERT-TRAM was able to provide smarter structural solutions across track form connections, concrete testing, and specification and design interpretation issues. Technology was another important standout and for GCLR CERT-TRAM developed an iPad-based site surveillance application for synchronized access to a database of inspection records, images and raw data held in Sydney, an online and offline communication and management tool that’s now being used on all other Arcadis/APP projects.
The high level of collaboration between Arcadis and APP was also vital to successfully meeting cost, design and timeline imperatives. At the start of the project a Commitment and Integration Charter was signed by the full project team of both companies, and then bolstered with the creation of an International Best Practice Advisory Group that could rapidly tap the latest international information on light rail construction, operations and control systems, rolling stock procurement and maintenance, and depot design.
The Queensland Government recognised the outstanding work of CERT-TRAM on Stage 1, not only extending the team’s work through the Operations and Maintenance phase until closeout mid 2015, but commissioning CERT-TRAM to audit the payment reporting and claim process on a monthly basis until the system was fully functional.
Not only has the light rail help revitalise the Gold Coast, it has also given a boost to the whole region’s economy through improved tourism, retail and construction activity. There is a very significant, measured global increase in public transport patronage on the Gold Coast of more than 22.6 per cent in the first 8 months of light rail operations creating a fully integrated public transport system through the heart of the city.
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