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City to Commonwealth Park light rail to be wire-free

Ian Bushnell 18 July 2019 90

A render of light rail on Commonwealth Avenue at the Commonwealth Park end of the northern section of Stage 2.

There will be more wire-free running and up to 10 new bridges, including the crossing of Parkes Way and Lake Burley Griffin between the City and Woden as part of the light rail Stage 2 project, according to documents lodged with the Commonwealth by the ACT Government.

The Government has split the route into two sections and last week lodged two referrals detailing the project requirements under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The documents are now open to public comment and reveal more of the detail of how the two sections of Stage 2 to Woden would be built.

Transport and City Services Minister Chris Steel said the decision to split the route provided an opportunity to fast-track the first stage from the City to Commonwealth Park while the Government worked through the more complex later stage through the Parliamentary Triangle with the Federal Government.

“We hope that the Federal Government agrees to the proposal to split light rail stage two into two parts,” he said.

As well as the expected wire-free running through the Parliamentary Zone, the ACT Government also plans to make the 1.7km City to Commonwealth Park leg, which is presented as a self-contained proposal, wire-free, with light rail vehicles charging at the three new stops of City West, West Basin and Commonwealth Park.

LRVs will have their own on-board power supply and a traction power substation in Commonwealth Park, connected to the system at Commonwealth Avenue which will need to be built.

The first leg will also require a dedicated light rail ramp between London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue, using the existing road off-ramp and necessitating an adjustment to the ‘cloverleaf’, and a new bridge between the existing bridges along Commonwealth Avenue over Parkes Way.

A pedestrian and traffic shared-zone on London Circuit between Gordon Street and Edinburgh Avenue is planned to improve accessibility to the City West light rail stop.

Major Projects Canberra may use alternative track slab surface treatments for sections of the City to Commonwealth Park alignment, including grass tracks on Commonwealth Avenue or a paved track slab surface on London Circuit, to better integrate the design into landscape.

It has split the first leg into two precincts – a ‘complex urban environment at London Circuit and then down the nationally-significant Main Avenue of Commonwealth Avenue’ – to ensure the project is integrated into the different landscapes.

At least four new LRVs will be required for the first leg, which the Government hopes will be up and running by 2023, and the Mitchell depot will also need to be expanded.

There will also be a ‘scissor cross-over’ at the Commonwealth Park end to allow light rail vehicles to reverse direction and travel northbound.

For the more c0mplex 9km, nine-stop Stage 2B across the lake to Woden via State Circle East, another 12 LRVS will have to be added to the fleet. The Government hopes it can be in operation in 2025 but with more environmental and heritage hurdles and the engineering challenges that start at Lake Burley Griffin and continue past Parliament House, this may be optimistic.

As well as the new bridge across Lake Burley Griffin, other bridges will need to be built on Commonwealth Avenue over Flynn Drive, Adelaide Avenue over State Circle, and over Yarralumla Creek.

New pedestrian bridges are planned for over Adelaide Avenue to the Kent Street light rail stop and over Yarra Glen to the Carruthers Street light rail stop, as well as a new pedestrian and cycle bridge across Yarralumla Creek at Phillip.

The road vehicle bridge from Yamba Drive to Melrose Drive will need to be decommissioned as will the pedestrian bridge across Yarralumla Creek at Phillip.

Four new traction power substations, 30 metres long by about 10 metres wide will be needed to service the project, and the documents say they would be located to avoid tree loss or impacts on canopies or roots.

They will be connected to each other via a Combined Service Route that follows the track slab alignment, while to the south, there will be a further trenched connection to the Evo Energy Woden Bulk Supply point sub-station.

Temporary construction compounds will be needed along the route including extra land on State Circle, Capital Hill, which will result in the temporary loss of parking.

A compound midway across the lake under the existing bridges may be used, involving sheet piling and a temporary working platform.

Driver amenities are planned at the end of both legs, at Commonwealth Park and Woden.

The ACT Government is hoping for quick approval for the City to Commonwealth Park with limited environmental and heritage impacts, including the presence of the critically endangered golden sun moth at the intersection of London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue, and possible affects on the Reserve Bank building and the Parliamentary vistas.

But Commonwealth Park to Woden presents multiple impacts. As well as the golden sun moth in the cloverleaf to negotiate, there are the historic Weston tree plantings, the Parliamentary vistas, possible impacts on West Block, Parliament House, State Circle Cutting, the York Park oak plantation, and the Lodge.

The referral argues these can be minimised and offset by defined no-go and protection zones, sensitive design, ‘grass tracks’, wire-free running and a landscaping and tree replacement program, including propagating a series of next-generation Himalayan cedars from the original trees on Commonwealth Avenue.

The City to Commonwealth leg requires approval from the ACT planning authority and the National Capital Authority, while the other section to Woden needs to be approved by the Federal Parliament as well. The second leg also faces the prospect of more environmental and heritage conditions being imposed on it.

The business cases for both legs are expected to be finalised in the next couple of months, when a better idea of the real cost will be known.

The entire Stage 2 has had an estimated price tag of up to $1.6 billion.

 


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City to Commonwealth Park light rail to be wire-free
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skyfire 6:16 pm 23 Jul 19

For all of you saying light rail is old tech, here is some history 101 for you – buses are older than railways!!!

Bring on stage 2!!!

maxblues 10:17 am 22 Jul 19

If they want a “wire-free” vehicle….a bus could do the job!

9:26 am 22 Jul 19

Cool, I can't wait to pay more money for something I won't use

    11:33 am 22 Jul 19

    Why won't you use it? I live on the south side, not anywhere near the light rail, but I have used it twice so far. Why wouldn't I? Easy too. I caught a bus to Civic and then I took the light rail. Much more comfortable and quicker than a bus to Gungahlin. And if you are one of those people in the south who keep boringly repeating you won't use it because you don't live in Gungahlin, it was meant as the first stage and the light rail is meant to go down south too. So all going well, it will get down south.

    11:38 am 22 Jul 19

    Julie Macklin because I don't go to the city, I work in Belconnen. And im in Moncrieff and would have to catch a bus to get to the tram. The tram is good for a few people, but not everyone.

    11:40 am 22 Jul 19

    I get its comfortable and all. I recently had MIL catch the tram from city to gunners and then get a taxi to us. She enjoyed it and it was fast. But it's not something that most people can use everyday. Only about 15,000 Canberrans use it every day.

    1:46 pm 22 Jul 19

    Anna Kay As I wrote, I too needed to catch a bus to the light rail, and that's what I did. No hardship. I have no problems believing (just because I don't live near it) that light rail is a good thing with the unending increasing population. Complaining about it because one doesn't live near it, is narrow minded. It's future thinking and planning which should be done. It had to start somewhere and it's best it's put in now, as it's much harder to retrofit public transport after the people have moved into the area, as they will continue to do so, with the lack of a stable population policy by the Federal Government. Infrastructure such as this should be in place first. If you don't want the continuation of things like this, then you should be arguing for and voting for people who believe in stabilising the population (I do this). Otherwise, light rail and other infrastructure is necessary and I'm pleased we have a local government who is forward enough thinking to recognise this.

2:03 am 22 Jul 19

Here go the rates again.. 😡

    8:32 pm 23 Jul 19

    Trace Hawker how much did they go up last time to specifically pay for stage 1? Do you have any idea what the answer is because I’m sure you don’t have a clue.

7:57 pm 21 Jul 19

I wonder if these underground wire pits will also flood, like those in stage 1 do

    7:09 am 22 Jul 19

    Chris Bennett all pits flood. The connections inside are specifically waterproofed.

    7:17 am 22 Jul 19

    Then why did the original certifier not want to certify them?

    8:41 pm 23 Jul 19

    Chris Bennett who knows what the REAL issue is/was.

    And don’t believe me about pits flooding walk around town and look at the covers to all the telecom and power pits. They all have holes in the covers. So of course water is going to get in.

    And if they were sealed then when the ground around them became waterlogged they would want to float up like a boat!

    8:46 pm 23 Jul 19

    I know all about pits flooding, because my NBN has suffered from it.

    It does concern me that the original certifier refused to sign off on it, so they replaced the certifier instead of rectifying the issues.

    7:48 am 24 Jul 19

    Chris Bennett if your nbn is effected by flooding pits then the connection wasn’t sealed properly.

    As for this again who knows what the REAL story is. I have a feeling it is not as black and white as being made out.

    8:01 am 24 Jul 19

    They replaced the pair through every junction to my house now, so things are good.

    Node to pit. Pit to pylon. Pylon to house.

9:14 am 21 Jul 19

Prepare for more fines.

Someone's gotta pay for it .

5:45 pm 20 Jul 19

That Parkes Way - Commonwealth Avenue - London Circuit interchange is already overloaded at peak hours.

Putting in trams will be the icing on the cake.

And yes, it’s obsolete technology at enormous expense.

gazmos 9:01 am 20 Jul 19

Now is the time to innovate. Trackless tram would eliminate the need for heavy infrastructure.
https://www.propertycouncil.com.au/Web/Content/News/National/2018/Are_trackless_trams_a_game_changer_.aspx
These ideas are supported by City Renewal Authority Board Member and eminent architect Ken Maher.
https://repository.architecture.com.au/download/chapters/act-chapter/Ken-Maher_Canberra_Salon-Talk-Final.pdf

    areaman 2:21 pm 20 Jul 19

    again, trackless trams are busses, they have the ride quality and energy efficiency of busses, but with higher maintenance, as they form massive ruts in the roads as they wheels only ever go along the narrow paths. The two longest running trackless trams in France are pulling them out to replace them with trams.

Lucy Baker 10:26 pm 19 Jul 19

Kinda telling, that that map is so old it has the old futsal slab! Reminding us of this government’s track record in pricey white elephants.

    Capital Retro 9:59 am 20 Jul 19

    The futsal slab is still in place. The pop-up container experiment failed to destroy it.

    areaman 2:03 pm 20 Jul 19

    The futsal stab was built by the Carnell Liberal government.

    Capital Retro 3:24 pm 21 Jul 19

    The stab (sic) has stood the test of time, over 20 years in fact. The pop-up container eyesore for the village people lasted about 2 years.

Capital Retro 7:38 pm 19 Jul 19

“….when 30,000 people exit a Brumbies match ………..”

Damien Haas, you’re dreamin’.

rationalobserver 5:56 pm 19 Jul 19

Given the astronomical amounts of money involved, and seemingly no higher priorities to spend it on, why not just tunnel under the lake and circumvent the NCA’s approval?
That way, people on the southside can get to experience the intolerable traffic delays we saw during phase 1 construction, where lanes were blocked off with witches hats during peak hour when there was no person and no machines working any where close to that area, and which I might add are still ongoing to this day.

    Capital Retro 8:47 pm 23 Jul 19

    Those delays, lane closures and speed limits along Northbourne Avenue and up to Epic corner are still happening. The funny thing is that my car at 40 kmh is still faster than the tram along side.

    It was totally disingenuous of Transport Canberra to claim Stage 1 was completed.

chewy14 11:01 am 19 Jul 19

There’s no way that this second stage will ever happen, the costs are simply astronomical, the benefits few and far between.

If the first stage was a white elephant, this is a mammoth.

    Maya123 4:50 pm 19 Jul 19

    So true, a white elephant. No one is using it; so unpopular. I have only imagined all those people in the tram and waiting for it; they can’t be real; must be holograms. Thank you for your logic, confirming the suspicions that those people using the tram don’t exist in real time.

    Capital Retro 10:53 am 20 Jul 19

    They are the same people you imagined who used to use busses.

    astro2 6:13 pm 20 Jul 19

    And now they’re using a smoother, quieter more efficient light rail service. That’s progress.

    chewy14 11:59 am 22 Jul 19

    Astro,
    A service whose benefits in no way justify its costs. A service which could have been provided through dedicated busways for a third of the price.

    You may like wasting taxpayers money, I don’t

    Capital Retro 11:25 am 24 Jul 19

    It’s certainly quiet in Tuggeranong.

    chewy14 11:57 am 22 Jul 19

    It’s almost like people have no idea what costs and benefits are.

    People using something doesn’t make it value for money.

    If the government offered a limousine service to drive you around for a small fee, it would be extremely popular too.

    There is a reason why the ACT government couldn’t get any federal funding for the project, because benefits were far too small for the costs and the money could be better used elsewhere.

    Do you know what opportunity costs are?

    JS9 3:07 pm 22 Jul 19

    They did get comonwealth funding for the project, through the Asset Recycling intiaitive. $60 or $70 million bucks I think it was.

    Not much, but its a lie to suggest they didn’t get anything.

    chewy14 11:13 pm 23 Jul 19

    JS,
    This is a misconception usually used by supporters of the project.

    The light rail didn’t get federal funding from the asset recycling scheme, those funds were to be used for any infrastructure project.

    The ACT government chose to claim the funding went to light rail despite the fact it could have been used for any one of the numerous infrastructure projects the ACT was funding.

    So I’ll direct you back to my original comment above, do you know what opportunity costs are?

    DJA 5:37 am 24 Jul 19

    Subtle nuance here. The ACT Government got the $60-70m for Asset Recycling and then chose to use that for the tram. This Commonwealth funding was not for the project itself.

ChrisinTurner 10:28 am 19 Jul 19

For fleet flexibility all existing LRV will have to be retrofitted with batteries, at considerable cost. Like Stage 1 we can expect the business case to show the project is uneconomic. 10 bridges!

    JC 3:43 pm 19 Jul 19

    Whilst there would clearly being a cost, the LRV’s we have can simply have the battery packs dropped in. The cost would be little more than having ordered them fitted out of the factory, like Newcastle did.

    Capital Retro 5:51 pm 19 Jul 19

    Where are the batteries (super-capacitors?) fitted within/on the trams and is the recharging to be via the pantograph or induction? Assuming induction is used on the new trams won’t that mean stage one will have to be modified (removal of catenery etc,) as well as all existing trams being retrofitted?

    It will cost many millions and the expensive batteries will have to be replaced regularly. The NRMA bloke will be run off his feet.

    areaman 2:09 pm 20 Jul 19

    The current trams are designed to be able to drop in a battery, it was part of the initial procurement. They’ll charge via the pantograph, just like they do in Newcastle, so no changes to the phase one infrastructure needed.

    Capital Retro 9:18 am 22 Jul 19

    And the extra costs are?

gooterz 10:06 pm 18 Jul 19

The tallest building in the world cost less than this mess.

9:57 pm 18 Jul 19

Tim - 10 new bridges

7:24 pm 18 Jul 19

It's incredible that the ACT Government has proven White Elephants do exist.

6:22 pm 18 Jul 19

Maybe sort out all the problems with the local buses before spending crazy money on an outdated technology.

    6:11 am 19 Jul 19

    Warwick Penn Bradly You do realise that buses must also fit into the category of outdated technology then? Same for cars, trains and biked as well.

    8:28 am 19 Jul 19

    Anura Samara Well, buses will be autonomous - car ownership will diminish and the requirement for carparks etc. will also be reduced. Transport will be self driving and available at a swipe of your smartphone. Exciting times!

    10:07 am 19 Jul 19

    And if you think autonomous is a long way off, think again. Here's a trial just completed in Canberra: https://the-riotact.com/autonomous-bus-completes-trial-at-belconnen-aged-care-village/303886

    3:45 pm 19 Jul 19

    Warwick Penn Bradly Autonomous trams are already possible too eg. lots of airports have driverless systems in place. With trams, it's even easier as the route is fixed.

    4:32 pm 19 Jul 19

    Anura Samara Sure, now think about the layout of Canberra. The last thing we need is fixed lines. Canberra is geographically dispersed. Wouldn't you prefer a small autonomous vehicle picked you up from your home on a cold winter's morning? If you want to talk tracks, the driverless pods at Heathrow have been a success and they only cost the tiniest fraction of the Canberra tram. Our one 13km track costs almost half of the Action costs for the entire city. Each extra bit of tram track laid will add to the ongoing cost.

    5:02 pm 19 Jul 19

    Warwick Penn Bradly and how does this fleet of small autonomous vehicles cope when 30,000 people exit a Brumbies match and summon an autonomous vehicle to take them home?

    Mass transit exists for a reason 👍

    5:12 pm 19 Jul 19

    D.c. Haas Sure, that's why we have fleets of large buses - possibly autonomous for such purposes. You'd hardly run a multi-billion tram to the stadium for the occasional match. Canberra lends itself nicely to autonomous solutions....trams not so much.

    5:16 pm 19 Jul 19

    Warwick Penn Bradly I think Canberra's design clearly shows the need for mass transport of movement along the main corridors. What we need to do is to break the expectation that public transport will deliver you from origin directly to destination with one mode. We lived in Geneva for a few years where they have trams, buses, trolley buses and water taxis plus heavy rail all working in a coordinated system. Yes, you might have to make a change somewhere. By all means use small autonomous options for the last few hundreds of metres but that can never compete in cost and efficiency with mass movements in larger vehicles.

    5:30 pm 19 Jul 19

    Anura Samara But for Canberra, just take a look at where stage 2 is going to run. There is already a rapid bus. The tram will be slower, cost orders of magnitude more and provide next to no additional benefit.

    The first leg was an ok choice, if you had to have a tram, because there's lots of options for stops. Adelaide Ave isn't really a goer and development won't be much of a possibility along there, let alone access. The more the tram meanders through the parliamentary area, the worse its performance in time and convenience is, over a bus.

    Autonomous vehicles are going to change so much in our society. Imagine using your smart phone, summoning an autonomous vehicle, it comes to your house, drops you right out the front of your destination and takes itself off for the next passenger, or to charge. The future is very rosy, and will edge out expensive trams.

    The best thing we can do now is prepare for autonomous. Better road markings, better charge points, 5G wireless everywhere, drop off points etc.

    5:42 pm 19 Jul 19

    The rapid bus that light rail stage two replaced actually runs past most of the people living adjacent to it's route, so it doesn't really help them.

    As well as creating a strong mass transit backbone that can be scaled up easily in future, it serves the 14,000 people that work in Barton, and the national instiutions.

    Plenty of additional benefits of you are looking at evidence that exists 👍

    I don't know how many autonomous vehicles would be needed for the 11,000 people who have used light rail stage one each day since it started 🤔

    5:45 pm 19 Jul 19

    D.c. Haas Exactly. Adelaide Ave is neither helped by the current rapid bus nor by the future tram.

    As I said, the more time the tram spends in Barton, the longer the trip is and the worse it compares to our current mass transit system - the rapid bus.

    As for number of autonomous vehicles, there's a simulator for that, and it doesn't even take into account the more likely system of smaller autonomous buses.http://canberraautonomouscars.info/

    5:46 pm 19 Jul 19

    D.c. Haas And China is testing smallish autonomous buses - you know, for Chinese population levels: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ci4ekhVSbEI

    5:50 pm 19 Jul 19

    Warwick Penn Bradly let us know when these are viable and not in testing or fictional.

    Light rail stage one is proving itself as our public transport future. Light rail stage two will create similar levels of public transport patronage when it is built 👍

    Feel free to link me to studies showing the same results using autonomous vehicles 🤣

    6:00 pm 19 Jul 19

    While a tram may seem a much sexier option, Stage 2 really highlights the fundamental flaw with fixed line. The tram can't serve the rapid trip from woden to the city and the Barton meander at the same time. It has to compromise terribly for both.

    And that's why we shouldn't waste the kind of money that could go a long way to fixing our public hospital system instead of funding a flawed fixed line concept.

    6:02 pm 19 Jul 19

    D.c. Haas And just putting your fingers in your ears pretending self driving won't happen, won't actually change the future. Every car iteration is getting closer to this reality. Car manufacturers and tech companies are betting heavily on this future.

    6:08 pm 19 Jul 19

    Warwick Penn Bradly self driving cars won't replace mass transit. They may replace the private car.

    Not sure how spending on public transport impacts the health budget. It's 247 million and the health budget is several Billion. The act government also recently built a hospital in Belconnen, while light rail was being built. The either/or argument is not a sound one.

    6:12 pm 19 Jul 19

    D.c. Haas 247 million....right! 240million only covers four years of the ongoing cost of the first 13km.

    Self driving will offer many options in scale. One needs to be careful not to just say self driving cars, because autonomous will be a growing category. And if you used dedicated pathways like the expensive tram has, you could actually daisy chain many autonomous vehicles and still have the flexibility to break out to non fixed paths when the line ends. Trams are going to seem so outdated and wasteful of resource.

    9:11 am 20 Jul 19

    Warwick Penn Bradly - exactly.

HiddenDragon 6:16 pm 18 Jul 19

What a spectacular monstrosity.

It would be bad enough if the Commonwealth, in a fit of generosity, offered to pay for all of this, but the idea that ACT Government funds – which should be going to far more pressing priorities for the people of Canberra – will be expended on this, is shameful.

    astro2 6:20 pm 20 Jul 19

    What a humongous hyperbole! Stage One light rail has been successfully implemented. Canberra moves on into a prosperous growing city yet there’s still a small band of naysayers that just don’t get it. Wonder how many similar rants went on with that “spectacular monstrosity’ the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

    chewy14 12:01 pm 22 Jul 19

    Astro,
    Funny that you mention the Sydney Harbour Bridge that had clear and quantifiable benefits and was also partially funded from a land value capture tax.

    Something that was specifically ruled out by this government because they knew that actually charging the people that would benefit the most from the service would cost them votes. Votes that they wanted to buy instead.

5:37 pm 18 Jul 19

wow... rail:18th century tech.. why not go full 21th and have autonomous full battery buses. The Chinese sell one that look and fell like a light rail (it follows a painted line on a normal road) that cost a fraction of this rort project? For the first part of the light rail we could have bought *hundreds* of those buses: no rail, no wires, no cut trees, added flexibility, modern, ...

    6:13 am 19 Jul 19

    Steven Gay for 18th century tech light rail is doing pretty well around the world. Mind you, bikes are also old tech and popular too. My point is that claiming they are old and therefore useless doesn't advance an argument about whether it's the right solution for us.

    8:00 am 19 Jul 19

    You are distorting my comment pretty badly. I understand you just want to discredit another opinion but you must admit I didn't equate 'old' (term I didn't use) with 'useless' (term I didn't use either). I only point out that there are better, cheaper alternatives. But too many people profit from this project so it will expand ... and the rest will pay.

    3:44 pm 19 Jul 19

    Steven Gay better in who’s opinion? And whilst you didn’t use the word useless your inference was quite clear. Refer to point 1 better in who’s opinion?

bj_ACT 5:02 pm 18 Jul 19

Surely extending the dedicated bus lane to the city centre and through Woden itself would deliver a similar commuter result at a much much lower cost than all this new bridge and track work.

Other cities around the world are moving to trackless trams, surely the Woden and Tuggeranong legs are a perfect fit for this type of technology.

    areaman 11:28 am 19 Jul 19

    Trackless trams are busses, and they don’t provide the ride quality, the energy efficiency, the scale-ability or the planning certainly that light rail does.

    And no, other cities aren’t moving to trackless trams in any great numbers.

    JC 3:50 pm 19 Jul 19

    Moving to trackless? What like Caen in France? Ooops my bad they are removing a trackless system and putting in a steel wheel on metal rail tram system because their trackless system was an failure.

    bj_ACT 5:17 pm 19 Jul 19

    I’m only going with what many public Transport experts are saying, but hey you guys know much better than an example below from one of the guys who supported Canberra Light Rail stage 1.

    “Australian cities moving to use trackless trams are: Townsville; Hobart; Melbourne in Fishermans Bend and Point Cook; Sydney in Liverpool out to the new Western Sydney Airport and the Inner West along Parramatta Road; and Perth, where five separate corridors are competing to be the first to trial the trackless tram system.”

    astro2 6:27 pm 20 Jul 19

    Haven’t seen any trackless trams or trials of these in any of these places. You’re very optimistic. The question remains why the obsession with a technology that is rarely used (for a number of reasons) except for an odd objection with anything that may appear to impose on one’s beloved motorways. That appears to be the main reason behind some of the anti-light rail comments.

    Capital Retro 5:52 pm 19 Jul 19

    Another tram-less track?

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