Sunshine Coast

Up on the Sunshine Coast for the weekend. My goodness it’s chilly! About 10 deg C outside last night and the house has no heating. Brr!

In the run up to last week’s state election, there was a lot of talk about the best use of the CAMCOS corridor that runs between Beerwah (on the north coast rail line out of Brisbane) and Maroochydore Airport (via Caloundra West, Kawana Waters and Maroochydore). This line has been reserved for an extention of the QR Brisbane Citytrain network.

The Liberal National Candidates suggested the line should be brought forward between Caloundra and Maroochydore and possibly built as light rail.

There is a lot of angst about this project, partly because it is seen as a line that will simply suck life out of the Sunshine Coast and turn the Coast into dormitory suburbs for Brisbane. The fact that the line is designed as a QR interurban line with wide station spacing adds to the conception that it won’t be any good for intracoastal trips. On the other hand, the Coast faces a serious shortage of employment and this means that easy access to the Brisbane metropolitan area employment base will be increasingly important. At the same time, I believe it is essential that business links between Brisbane and the coast are strengthened. It should be possible for businesses to locate in Maroochydore knowing that Brisbane is only a 90 minute train ride away (for visitors and clients).

I have come to the conclusion that one good way forward is to build the line, as proposed, to QR suburban standards, while at the same time negotiating a Karlsruhe-type solution for intracoastal trips. The Karlsruhe model is one where light rail vehicles are able to share tracks with regular suburban trains. These LRT vehicles can then travel in street medians and make more frequent stops than the suburban/interurban trains which provide longer distance travel.

It will be tricky, particularly getting QR on side, but I believe it is worth investigating further.

My new boss and a number of my key clients are located up the Sunshine Coast, so I am finding myself up there about once a months for various meetings and workshops that can’t be done remotely.

It’s a really tedious trip to make, averaging about 1.5 -2 hours by car. This means a typical 90 minute meeting pretty much wipes out a day, once you take into account travel and preparation time.

Unfortunately, the Sunshine Coast is not currently linked to Brisbane by any serious public transport. There are long term plans for a suburban rail extension from Beerwah to Maroochydore (the so-called CAMCOS line) but this is at least 15 years away, if not further. In the meantime, the closest rail link is the North Coast line which passes through the Sunshine Hinterland to Nambour.

TransLink provides a bus service connecting with trains at Landsborough that is the main PT link to the Sunshine Coast. Unfortunately both the train and bus are really not good for business-type trips from Brisbane to the coast. It takes 2 to 3 hours do do the trip and there are also a grand total of 4 services that arrive on the Coast before midday.

It’s about time to do something serious about this.

Not only does CAMCOS have to be brought forward (instead of being pushed back as is constantly rumoured) but some decent interim solutions need to be found

  • more contra-peak Nambour trains need to be run (if the network can cope – it’s a single track line)
  • all trains at Landsborough need to be met by a direct bus to Mooloolaba and Maroochydore (not deviating through Chancellor Park back streets, although I guess the University is acceptable)
  • in fill express buses need to be provided from Caboolture direct to the Coast at times when the Nambour rail line is at capacity

I can’t be the only one who would rather not have to drive.