The Sunshine Coast light rail project is a planned rapid transit system to be developed in Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

The project is being undertaken by Sunshine Coast Regional Council in order to provide regular and affordable public transport facilities in the region.

The project will initially include a 23km-long light rail system linking Maroochydore with Caloundra via Mooloolaba and Kawana, with further extensions planned in the future.

The light rail project is expected to carry approximately 60,000 passengers a day, increasing the share of public transport from 3.6% to 10% of all journeys by 2031.

Project purpose

Being one of the fastest growing regions of Australia, Sunshine Coast’s population is projected to double over the next 50 years. The population growth will increase private car transport, which currently accounts for 86% of trips, while public transport accounts for just 3.6%.

Since alternative modes of transport are essential to manage the growth, while preserving the environment, the light rail system was chosen to provide an alternative to private car and deliver seamless transportation in the urban centres.

Sunshine Coast light rail project details

A number of options were considered before choosing light rail as the preferred option. The initial round of feasibility study, partly funded by the Commonwealth Government, focused on the coastal area from Maroochydore to Caloundra.

“Being one of the fastest growing regions of Australia, Sunshine Coast’s population is projected to double over the next 50 years.”

The study has provided an abstraction of route options and also the benefits and opportunities that light rail can provide in shaping the Sunshine Coast.

It also proposes to link the Sunshine Coast light rail to surrounding areas of the coastal region through a network of high-frequency buses.

Lines and routes

Sunshine Coast Regional Council plans to create six corridors within the Sunshine Coast rapid transit network.

The 23km-long Corridor 1 will be between Maroochydore and Caloundra, while Corridor 2 will be between Maroochydore and Sunshine Coast Airport for 9.4km.

Sunshine Coast Airport to Noosa will be the third corridor of the light rail system and will be 33.8km-long. Corridor 4 will extend from Maroochydore to Nambour over a length of 15.1km.

The 10km Caloundra to Caloundra South corridor and the 10.7km Palmview to Sippy Downs to Mooloolaba corridor will be respectively the fifth and sixth corridors of the project.

Rolling stock details

The new light rail transit system will feature fully low-floor, modular, electrically powered light rail vehicles measuring between 30m and 40m in length. The trains will operate at a maximum speed of 80km/h and run on dedicated tracks.

The vehicles will be powered by overhead power lines at low voltage of 750V DC. They will be fully air-conditioned and feature open air modules.

Sunshine Coast light rail project benefits

The light rail project will reduce car travel and improve accessibility for elderly and disabled passengers. It will create more travel options for the Sunshine Coast region and promote better liveable places and a greener coast by reducing carbon pollution and improving air-quality.

In addition, it will generate approximately 9,000 jobs during the construction and operation phases adding $3.6bn back into the economy. The project will provide more capacity in less space, enabling reduced congestion.

The project also has the potential to attract private investors and encourage economic activity surrounding the routes and stations.