ACT faces third light rail election after Libs throw doubt on Stage 2

Dominic Giannini 16 September 2020 43
Gungahlin Light Rail

Light rail has been put back on the agenda ahead of the October election. Photo: Region Media.

The ACT is on track to have more light rail elections than routes after the Canberra Liberals committed to conducting an independent inquiry into where the next route should be built – with Belconnen a likely option.

Stage 2 of the current plan will see light rail extended from Civic to Commonwealth Park by 2024, and then from Commonwealth Park to Woden.

However, the Liberals’ transport spokesperson Candice Burch said people had been asking her about a Belconnen to the airport route.

“We still have not heard from the government as to why that is not the case,” she told an election forum last night (15 September).

Belconnen to the airport via the city is the third stage of the current light rail plan, while Stage 4 will then extend the line from Woden to Tuggeranong via Mawson.

READ ALSO: Belco, Airport and Tuggeranong next stops for Canberra’s light rail journey

Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra Ryan Hemsley accused the Liberals of virtue signalling on the issue with no real clarity about where they stand after throwing the suggestion into the mix just weeks out from the election.

“At least at the 2016 election you knew what the party stood for … but to announce this weeks before the election – uncosted and with no timeline outlined – is really disappointing,” he told Region Media.

“They have had four years to come up with a light rail policy – we need real commitments with funding attached.”

READ MORE: Another light rail election on track after Libs slam contract delays

Mr Hemsley said he supports the Belconnen to airport route but wants to see a detailed proposal from the Liberals.

“If they have a detailed Stage 3 proposal that would be great,” he said.

“They appear to oppose the Government’s plan but the frustrating thing is that they are all very hazy about it. But I would love to be proven wrong.”

Transport Minister Chris Steel also took a swing at the Liberals’ proposal, saying the study would cause substantial construction delays.

“The stance of the Canberra Liberals would undo years of planning work and likely mean that any new construction work would be put off for decades,” he said.

Candice Burch

Liberals’ transport spokesperson Candice Burch says a new study is needed into Stage 2. Photo: Region Media

The Liberals also tried to distinguish themselves from Labor on light rail in June when Opposition Leader Alistair Coe said the government had mismanaged the entire process and called for the complete business case to be released.

Asked where he stood on Stage 2, he said the Liberals supported the extension of light rail in principle but would not back the current project without knowing all the pros and cons.

The ACT Greens have also come out with their own light rail announcement ahead of the election, calling for express services between the city and Woden.

The Greens estimate an express service would cut around 10 minutes from the 25 to 30-minute journey.

They also say trams should be designed to allow for better technology to be installed over the coming years.

“The National Capital Authority is requiring long wire-free sections. These slow the trip because the tram has to limit its speed to conserve power and/or make extra stops to recharge,” a Greens spokesperson said.

“Battery and recharging technology are rapidly improving. We need to design the trams and infrastructure to allow better technology to be installed in the next few years.

“This would allow express services to miss even more stations and extend the time saving above five minutes.”

Bypass tracks and cross-over points at stations so express trams miss congestion on the tracks were also proposed.

You can keep up to date with the RiotACT!’s election coverage here.

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43 Responses to ACT faces third light rail election after Libs throw doubt on Stage 2
Julie Maynard Julie Maynard 3:33 pm 17 Sep 20

Weren’t the Libs against light rail?

Mark Chapman Mark Chapman 3:01 pm 17 Sep 20

Yeah, I can just see the Libs scrapping the Woden leg in favour of Belconnen to the airport, then that being abandoned because of a "budget black hole".

Roger Mungummary Roger Mungummary 10:05 pm 16 Sep 20

Probably the major parties have pretty much abandoned the Southside as far as spending goes. Run down roads, parks and facilities. The last big project was that crappy work done at the hyperfine on around 200 metres of road B.F.D. Worst so called Labor government ever, social housing a joke, developer puppets.

Gabriel Spacca Gabriel Spacca 9:58 pm 16 Sep 20

Because of course people only vote for a party based on just the one policy.

Joshua Andrew Morgan Joshua Andrew Morgan 9:40 pm 16 Sep 20

i'll vote libs if they keep that outdated rubbish northside..

Mark Scarborough Mark Scarborough 6:54 pm 16 Sep 20

If light rail is to be taken seriously construction for the next stage should have commenced before stage 1 was finalised. If the Federal Government didnt come to the table in time Belconnen to airport via civic should have been stage 2. Stage 3 Tuggeranong to Woden. Stage 4 Woden to Civic.

The original proposed timeframe to complete the whole network our kids would be finished from University, they are in primary school now.

Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 5:26 pm 16 Sep 20

Wouldn’t mind if it was to Belconnen first but realistically it should go to Woden/Tuggeranong

    Jason Butterfield Jason Butterfield 7:52 pm 18 Sep 20

    Really it needs to be built to woden and tuggers they have been lacking a decent bus service for years, in saying that they should have been recruiting bus drivers far earlier on and not removed so many routes from other parts of Canberra just for gunners

Charny Barney Charny Barney 4:09 pm 16 Sep 20

Lets just get on and build the Woden light rail, and then build it to Belco. Light rail up Ginninderra Drive 👍

Dropping the plans already on the table is just an immense waste of money, and I dont reckon the libs would even build it to Belco after years shitcanning it.

    Joshua Andrew Morgan Joshua Andrew Morgan 9:44 pm 16 Sep 20

    because the light rail was a stupid idea to begin outdated. canberra needs a real rail network

Julia Nesbitt Julia Nesbitt 3:57 pm 16 Sep 20

But libs are promising lots of dough to motorists. How out of touch.

Chris Cross Chris Cross 3:19 pm 16 Sep 20

They've committed to an enquiry? Really? Well that's just dandy 👏👍. So basically their intention is to drag out light rail implementation for as long as possible with even more "enquiries". Lets not build it now for cheaper to PLAN AHEAD for our future, lets wait till much later when Canberra has grown exponentially and it costs twice as much (just like every other city in Australia... leaving it too late). It's all about the quick points score for Liberals. Don't overhaul the tax system to something fairer and more efficient, don't implement light rail, don't give women rights to their own bodies. But DO give a discount to car rego, and DO give millions to private catholic schools (all uncosted). You know... those "important issues". This election can't come quick enough 🙄.

    Chris Cross Chris Cross 11:53 pm 16 Sep 20

    Outdated? Huge Burden? Inflexible? Ancient? Do both of you come from the same cult? If not you should hook up! I hear Hillsong is taking members. 🤩🤩

Richard Willcoxson Richard Willcoxson 2:39 pm 16 Sep 20

If the claims that the gradient was too steep around Parliament House how are you getting light rail from civic to Belconnen?

    Guy Noble Guy Noble 2:54 pm 16 Sep 20

    Just a distraction its how things work these days

    Shane Westmore Shane Westmore 3:51 pm 16 Sep 20

    conveyor belt up, turn off the breaks on the way down & let it glide... make covid mask protestors & anti-vaxxers pull it uphill like a dogsled... drop the Raiders & Brumbies squads at the bottom & get them to drag it to Canberra Stadium...

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