Firstly I would like to publicly thank our hosts as Goldlink for their fine hospitality which included a plentiful supply of sandwiches and other snacks for lunch.
At one stage or another we were greeted by several senior members of the various partners in the consortium who answered a multitude of questions, including a few which for commercial reasons cannot be mentioned publicly. I was pleased to meet Bruce Miller who encouraged me to continue to ask questions on any matters.
The morning started of with a "Power Point" slide presentation which included charts, maps, photos, FAQs etc. This was frequently paused to answer questions relevant to the slide showing, and at times digressions. It is just a pity that there were only 6 of us which included John Hudson from TDU, the rest being from Rail Back on Track, a local group similar to our own dealing with public transport issues in Southeast Queensland.
Here follows the notes I made, in no logical order except the order in which the points were made or discussed. I trust I have made no mis-interpretations.
1. [We got to the venue 30 minutes late due to some train trouble in Brisbane.]
2. The corporate setup of the consortium is quite mind-boggling with (at a guess) over 20 different entities being involved. The contract is some 5,000 pages.It is described as a PPP arrangement, but it was not clear (to me at least) as to just how much the consortium is providing, but there are finance providers as part of the group of entities. They state the total cost is $1.1 billion.
3. The design of the tram cab external appearance was done by a Brisbane designer. It seems the Germans designing and building the tramcars were completely befuddled at the request for surfboard racks in the trams, initially not knowing what a surfboard was! While the cabs are customised, the saloons are basically standard. Not surprisingly overseas trams (including the similar Blackpool ones), have no provision for surfboards.
4. Our trams have the largest air conditioning units of any tram in the world. They are also different from the Blackpool model being 7 section rather than 5.
5. On suitable sections of the route, a speed of 70km/h will be permitted. This is likely to include the centre of the Gold Coast Highway, Queen St and other locations which are fully segregated.
6. There was supposed to be a tram stop half way along Queen St, roughly where there is a primary school but the principal at the time successfully objected to this. He said the pupils would not use it, undesirables would be attracted etc. etc. Thus the only street of the whole line which has houses along the route (one side of the road only) is essentially inaccessible to most residents. Ironically, the new principal wants a stop, but it is too late now. Road widening for the stop would be rather difficult.
7. At present there is no mockup of the tram.
8. It appears as though the first drivers will be trained by KDR in Melbourne. [Whether they heeded my suggestion of thought of it themselves first may never be known]. Let's hope this happens and we don't have a team of Nervous Nellies at the controls.
9. The consortium is paying 100% of the cost of utility diversions, but in the case of power and telecom relocations, the new cables apparently will be supplied and installed by the utility, but the conduits will be supplied and laid by the tramway.
10. On average, there are 111 workers on site each day.
11. Company policy has resulted in 91.3% of goods, services and staff being sourced from the area from Brisbane to the NSW border. This has involved $26.8 million to date.
12. The specifications of the rail were matched to suit the wheel profile of the trams, thus the grooved rail from Austria. (The explanation of this was not real clear to me).
13. The tramway corridor is being used by Gold Coast City Council as the basis for considerable high-density housing and business development, especially near tram stops.
14. There will be no track set in lawn, mainly because it was felt that much of the time it would be brown and not green.
15. Gocard validators will be located on tram stops, not on the trams. Much the same as on the suburban railway. Normal gocard fare zones etc will apply.
16. A local radio station is running a competition in conjunction with GoldlinQ titled "The Voice of the Tram". It is hoped that a local person will be chosen to make the recordings of all the stop names and nearby amenities to be played on the trams during the journey. External advertising on the trams may not exceed 30% of the fleet at any time. There are also restrictions on what percentage of windows may also be covered.
17. This may dismay Noel Reed, but please some of us. There will be NO tramway signalling or such equipment to assist or impede the trams HOWEVER it is part of the contract that all traffic lights along the route will be equipped to provide tram priority. It is the only way, I am told, that the trams can hope to achieve the proposed running times which have apparently been calculated with the help of Google Earth maps. [When I can get a clear run, I hope to drive the route and see how long it takes. I suspect it will take me more than 37 minutes] The 37 minute running time includes 2 minutes for the drive to change ends. As an interesting sidelight, as the depot will be located in a section of 70km/h operation, the depot access will be controlled by signalling based on road traffic light technology. I personally would like to thank the engineer who explained all this to me on the tunnel inspection part of the tour.
18. The minibus which took us and a number of staff on the trip got no closer to the depot than I did last week! But it is just a big mudbowl at the moment, with 40 people working there.
19. The viaduct over the Smith St motorway will be quite impressive, being 800m in length altogether. I will include more details if outlined in the Sample Bag of goodies given to us, which included a re-usable water bottle and a cardboard model of the tram - to be assembled by the lucky owner.
MY APOLOGIES to all the names I have forgotten of officials I was introduced to. Nevertheless your input was much appreciated.
WARNING. I have 7 photos to post later. I will do them in 2 batches. I trust I will not overload any mailboxes.