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Fresh meat for the light rail nerds

By johnboy - 9 April 2009 70

Chief Minister John Stanhope has announced that he’s releasing the PricewaterhouseCoopers produced business case for light rail in the ACT.

Apparently the findings included:

    — Light rail could potentially decrease Canberra’s traffic congestion and commuting time and as a result reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution;
    — The project would cost approximately $2 billion; and
    — The project has a benefit-to-cost ratio of 1.62.

Enthusiasts can check out the whole thing on the TAMS website.

What’s Your opinion?


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70 Responses to
Fresh meat for the light rail nerds
31
TP 3000 2:14 am
10 Apr 09
#

Forgot to add, has anyone else noticed how Molonglo Valley has been left out of this plan. But by 2015, it should be fairly established.

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32
arescarti42 11:52 am
10 Apr 09
#

I just thought I’d add that at $2 billion for 54km of track, that is about $37 million per kilometre for the entire project. For comparison, the GDE was (please correct me if I’m wrong) about 100 million for the initial construction, and will be an additional 83 million for duplication to 2 lanes. $183 million over 9km of road is $20 million per km total for the GDE.

$2 billion doesn’t seem that much for the benefits that a city wide rail system will bring, compared with the costs of constructing new roads.

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33
hax 12:32 pm
10 Apr 09
#

arescarti42 said :

$2 billion doesn’t seem that much for the benefits that a city wide rail system will bring, compared with the costs of constructing new roads.

The GDE isn’t exactly a shining example to compare cost per km.

Besides, going by track-record, is $2B really going to be the final/actual cost?

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34
TP 3000 12:39 pm
10 Apr 09
#

Starting costs will probably be less, but they decided to add the running late fee. I think the most expensive bit till be the Northbourne Avenue underpass.

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35
old canberran 4:18 pm
10 Apr 09
#

Where do you suppose the $2 billion is going to come from? I would have thought you people were paying enough in rates now without adding the cost of light rail.

Believe it or not light rail was in the minds of the planners 50 years ago. Yarra Glen for instance allows for it along the middle, as does Northbourne Avenue. One problem is that you still need suburban buses to get people from their homes to the rail stations or sizeable car parks.

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36
imhotep 5:15 pm
10 Apr 09
#

old canberran said :

(Old Canberran)”Where do you suppose the $2 billion is going to come from?”

The alternative is to keep building more roads, and who knows where the money for that will come from. I’m no accountant but surely an additional benefit of light rail is a reduced need for new road construction -especially in light of our experience with the GDE.

Do we see ourselves as a modern city? Or will we just become another Los Angeles, without the beaches. It’s a matter of political will. If we can find a lazy $24m for the arboretum…

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37
monomania 6:18 pm
10 Apr 09
#

imhotep said :

The alternative is to keep building more roads, and who knows where the money for that will come from.
It’s a matter of political will.

The first alternative is to infill with a vengence not increase the boundaries. Get rid of nature corridors and horse paddocks to ensure that the land there is used for higher density development with dwellings set to a price that makes them an attractive alternative to larger outer suburbs. A small light rail system might work then?

imhotep said :

If we can find a lazy $24m for the arboretum…

The arboretum is like the light rail you support infrastructure for the future. I reckon it has far more support than light rail

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38
fabforty 7:10 pm
10 Apr 09
#

hax said :

Less congestion.. I’ll be cruising around freely in my electric sports car by then :)

Pfft ! That’s confident. I think we’ll all be buzzing around Jetsons style in our own individual spaceships before anything “real” happens about the light rail.

Lets improve the bus system first.

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39
imhotep 7:12 pm
10 Apr 09
#

monomania said :

(monomania)”The first alternative is to infill with a vengence not increase the boundaries. Get rid of nature corridors and horse paddocks…”

I kind of agree that one of Canberra’s biggest problems (from an environmental standpoint) is its very low density housing, but then if we did ‘infill’, we would lose the social and ecosystem services provided AND become just a mini-Los Angeles, without the beaches. I think higher density around the existing towns is a good compromise though.

monomania said :

“I reckon it (the arboretum) has far more support than light rail”

It’s a bit hard to judge how much support there is for the arboretum. I wasn’t asked, were you? (I’m not against the arboretum, just some of the politics that have gone into its structure -imagine the true environmental cost of carting treated water around in trucks, just so we can say that ‘it’s recycled water’)

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40
sepi 7:18 pm
10 Apr 09
#

Infill is not the answer to everything. The more units there are, the more we really need to have suburban parks and open space. And some of those green corridors are where light rail would go. You can’t do light rail once a city is completely full to bursting – that’s why now is a good time to start.

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41
Gungahlin Al 7:51 pm
10 Apr 09
#

On the cost-benefit return rate, the following extract from ACT Light Rail’s media release explains that simply:

In the cost benefit analysis results PWC predict that for an outlay of $1.65 billion on the entire network and its operating costs, this will produce benefits to the Territory in the order of $2.66 billion through increases in amenity and significant reductions in costs the Territory would otherwise have to bear in to the future.

So the cost for the TOTAL network (not that it would ever be all built in one hit) about HALF of Jon Stanhope’s latest invented number of $3B.

And a net BENEFIT to the ACT community of $1 billion.

Not a net cost – a profit.

This is where I say “I told you so, again and again.”

So what this also means is that the longer this government takes to get this project going, the less savings/profit it will make – because land on the north side is being sold up very quickly.

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42
farnarkler 8:14 pm
10 Apr 09
#

PriceWaterhouseCoopers must have thought it was christmas when they won the tender or however it was they got to do the business case. Charge a fortune for something that won’t see the light of day.

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43
sepi 8:45 pm
10 Apr 09
#

Al, I’m sorry to say I think light rail will never happen. Even tho it clearly should.

For about 2 decades people talked as if the Very Fast Train to Sydney was about to happen any day now, and nothing ever happened at all.

These large projects just don’t get off the ground in Canberra – noone wants to make these kind of big decisions.

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44
VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 9:02 pm
10 Apr 09
#

The problem is that there isn’t enough people who would use it to justify the expenditure, when there are more needy projects elsewhere. Canberra just isn’t that big.

There’s also the same problem as we have with buses, in that if you don’t live right next to an interchange, or on an interchange route, it takes so long to get anywhere that for most full time it just isn’t viable. There’s also the issue that it often doesn’t go where people need to be.

Ramp up the buses and get people used to decent public transport first, then think about the transport medium.

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45
imhotep 9:28 pm
10 Apr 09
#

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy said :

(VY)”The problem is that there isn’t enough people who would use it to justify the expenditure, when there are more needy projects elsewhere. Canberra just isn’t that big.”

Yes, we aren’t that big, but if the claim above -that we’re prepared to spend $183m for 9 km of the GDE (say it ain’t so!) – then light rail begins to look pretty cheap. Maybe the problem is that building bigger roads is simply the safest option politically, not necessarily the cheapest in the long run.

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