VISION: The future light-rail system envisaged along Alexandra Parade.
VISION: The future light-rail system envisaged along Alexandra Parade.

Coast light-rail could cater for extra 200,000 residents

IT'S ONE of the foundations of any future success for the new Maroochydore CBD and a transport system that could be the Coast's game-changer.

Light-rail has been hailed as a potential saviour for the Coast from the onset of urban sprawl, enabling higher-density living along a designated transport corridor.

That's the view of one of the men driving the project, Maroochydore Revitalisation Association president James Birrell.

He said he suggested the project back in 2006, aware of the future growth headed to the region and the damaging effects of urban sprawl on natural environments.

"For me it's a game-changer," he said.

"It's hugely important for the area to connect the whole of the Coast up with a dedicated, rapid transport system.

"It's a huge economic benefit and lifestyle benefit to the whole region."

SunCentral CEO John Knaggs was very strongly supportive of any infrastructure on the Coast and said it was fundamental in underpinning the success of any new urban centre.

He said the whole region would reap the benefits of a new transport system servicing the future Maroochydore CBD.

"Investment in PT (public transport) is critical," Mr Knaggs said.

Living Choice Kawana Island retirement village manager Russ Dunston said light-rail wouldn't have a dramatic effect on his residents in terms of access to medical facilities and the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital given they already had designated transport.

But he said there would be huge benefits in the connectivity for residents wishing to travel to the future city centre or eventually, use a light-rail network with a heavy-rail connection to travel to and from Brisbane.

"If they could go somewhere very near and jump on a train to Brisbane, that'd be wonderful," he said.

Sunshine Coast Council is currently planning for a light-rail network with the first stage of light rail between Maroochydore and Kawana hoped to commence by 2025.

Preliminary studies have identified preferred routes, with the proposed network's preferred routes identified by the community.

The proposed network would come at a cost of about $2 billion- roughly $90 million per kilometre.

Mr Birrell said light-rail would work best when part of a fully-integrated transport network, enabling higher-density living around transport nodes.

He estimated about 100,000-200,000 extra people could be accommodated along a major transport corridor if done well.