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.