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NGR (New Generation Rollingstock) 702 arriving at Wulkuraka during a test run to Ipswich, 10 January 2017. Photo: QR, Wikimedia Commons.

Flexity 2 Light Rail Vehicle number 18, Broadbeach South station, 13 January 2018.

Public Transport to the Commonwealth Games

David Matheson

25 March 2018


The twenty-first Commonwealth Games will be held on the Gold Coast from 4 to 15 April 2018. Shooting and track cycling events will also be held in Brisbane and some preliminary basketball matches will take place in Cairns and Townsville. A range of art and cultural activities will also occur.


Public transport will be vital to the success of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games (GC2018). An estimated 6600 athletes, team officials, medical personnel and press attachés will participate. There will be over 1.2 million spectator tickets available, and more than 50,000 workers, media personnel and volunteers involved. A Transport Operations Plan (TOP) was developed following consultation with transport planners and the public. It outlines the arrangements for the provision of efficient, safe and reliable transport during GC2018. Various Games Route Networks (GRNs) are identified for major public transport services, which will be provided by heavy rail, light rail, regular bus routes and shuttle buses.



A railway line links the Gold Coast with Brisbane CBD and Brisbane airport, and is the primary public transport connection between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. It will continue servicing regular commuters and travellers, but will also transport spectators and workers during GC2018. Additional train services will be provided during peak spectator travel periods. The line is now double track throughout, following the duplication of the 8.2 km section between Coomera and Helensvale in October 2017. The line is built to narrow (1067 mm) gauge and is electrified using 25 kV AC.


The six stations on the Gold Coast line (Ormeau, Coomera, Helensvale, Nerang, Robina, Varsity Lakes) have been refurbished, including painting of station buildings, upgrading toilet facilities, new signage and Passenger Information Display screens. Also, the power supply for trains on the line has been reinforced and existing CCTV systems have been overhauled.


During the Commonwealth Games train services on the Gold Coast line will almost triple, with services operating on average every 10 minutes or more frequently for most of the day. The maximum number of trains possible will run during peak event travel periods.

Services on other lines in Brisbane will be reduced from 30 March to 20 April to enable the increased services on the Gold Coast line. This period includes five days before and after the Commonwealth Games to manage rostering and to enable crews to be rested. Service reductions on the Beenleigh line will be partly compensated by the operation of bus services. Additionally, Gold Coast trains will make additional stops at Yeronga, Coopers Plains and Woodridge on the Beenleigh line.


Queensland Rail operates passenger train services on the Gold Coast line. They have a range of types of Electric Multiple Unit trains in service. In addition, orders have been placed for 450 new carriages which will form 75 six-car sets. These trains are known as the New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) and are being built by Bombardier Transportation in India. They have 454 seats per six-car train and a maximum speed of 140 km/h. The first trains arrived in Queensland and commenced trials in 2016, but a number of technical issues arose. The first of the New Generation Rollingstock trains finally commenced running on the Gold Coast line in December 2017. Nine were in service by the beginning of March 2018.


Light rail

The Gold Coast light rail system is called G:link, commonly referred to as the G. It was built and is operated and maintained by GoldLinQ, a privately-owned company. The first section of the line, from Gold Coast University Hospital to Broadbeach South, opened in July 2014 and carried 6.6 million passenger journeys in its first year of operation. In December 2017 a 7.3 km extension was opened from Gold Coast University Hospital to Helensvale railway station. The line is now 20 km in length from Helensvale to Broadbeach South and includes 19 stations. It is built to standard gauge. The 19 stations on the line are: Helensvale, Parkwood Parkwood East, Gold Coast University Hospital, Griffith University, Queen Street, Nerang Street, Southport, Southport South, Broadwater Parklands, Main Beach, Surfer Paradise North, Cypress Avenue, Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise, Northcliffe, Florida Gardens, Broadbeach North and Broadbeach South.


Regular light rail services operate every 7.5 minutes from 7.00 am to 7.00 pm on weekdays, and every 10 minutes from 7.00 am to 7.00 pm on weekends. Between 5.00 am and 7.00 am, and between 7.00 pm and midnight, on weekdays and weekends, light rail services operate every 15 minutes. Services operate every 30 minutes between midnight and 5.00 am on weekends only. During GC2018 light rail services will continue to cater for regular travellers, but will also provide transport for spectators and workers. Services will operate for 24 hours a day, with frequencies of 6 or 7.5 minutes for most of the day, but less often at other times.


Gold Coast light rail services are operated by Flexity 2 light rail vehicles, which were built by Bombardier Transportation in Germany, and introduced when the line was opened. They have seven module sections and a length of 43.5 metres, making them the longest type of tram or light rail vehicle to have ever been used in Australia. They have 80 seats and a maximum speed of 70 km/h. Eighteen Flexity 2 light rail vehicles are in service.


Transport coordination

Coordination of transport operations for GC2018 will be facilitated by the establishment of a Transport Coordination Centre (TCC). The TCC will include representatives from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation, Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, the Queensland Police Service, and the City of Gold Coast. It will liaise with various transport operators, and monitor, coordinate and manage all public transport operations servicing and impacting on GC2018.


Regular bus services will continue to operate during GC2018. Additionally, shuttle buses will provide transport for spectators and accredited workers between transport hubs (railway stations, light rail stations and park ‘n’ ride facilities) and venues before and after competition events.



There are twelve GC2018 event venues on the Gold Coast, two in Brisbane, one in Cairns and one in Townsville. One of the major locations is the Carara Precinct, which includes the Carrara Stadium and Carrara Sport and Leisure Centre. It will host the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, para powerlifting, badminton, weightlifting and wrestling. The Carara Precinct can be reached using public transport by bus to Nerang-Broadbeach Road; shuttle bus from Nerang railway station, Broadbeach South light rail station and Helensvale park ‘n’ ride; and walking or cycling from Nerang railway station.


Other major competition venues are Gold Coast Aquatic Centre at Southport, Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre at Broadbeach, and Robina Stadium. Gold Coast Aquatic Centre can be accessed by light rail to Southport station; bus to Southport; shuttle bus from Helensvale railway station; and shuttle bus from Parkwood park ‘n’ ride. Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre can be accessed by light rail to Broadbeach South station; bus to Broadbeach; and shuttle bus from Nerang railway station and Merrimac park ‘n’ ride. Robina Stadium can be accessed by railway to Robina station; bus to Robina railway station; and shuttle bus from Broadbeach South light rail station and Mudgeeraba park ‘n’ ride.


Public transport services in the South East Queensland TransLink network will be free for ticketed spectators and accredited officials travelling to and from GC2018 competition events. This excludes the privately-owned Airtrain service to Brisbane airport. Passengers will need to present their GC2018 ticket or accreditation. Spectators will be provided with a range of information prior to the games, including a GC2018 journey planner, guides for individual venues, and online information regarding travel.


Gold Coast 2018, XXI Commonwealth Games, Transport Operations Plan, 2017.

Gold Coast 2018, XXI Commonwealth Games <>.

Gold Coast Light Rail (G:link) <>, <>.

Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 2 <>.

Queensland Rail, Annual and financial report 2016–17, Brisbane, 2017.

Queensland Rail <>.

Helensvale station, which is the interchange between railway and light rail services, 14 January 2018.



Interior of NGR (New Generation Rollingstock) train, 14 January 2018.

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