27 October 2022

Federal funding for light rail 2A won't be fully rolled out until 2030

| Lottie Twyford
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Sandford Street light rail stop

The Canberra Liberals say the government must provide a timeframe for the delivery of light rail to Woden. Photo: John Mikita.

The announcement of $85.9 million in Federal funding for the Territory’s light rail project has done little to alleviate the timeline concerns of the Canberra Liberals.

In recent months, the Opposition has been heaping pressure on Transport Minister Chris Steel to commit to a deadline for completion – even if it’s just a rough decade.

This is something he’s refused to do, arguing that “rubbery figures” are of no use to anyone.

Tuesday’s (25 October) Federal Budget committed $85.9 million to Stage 2A to help bring light rail to Commonwealth Park, taking total federal funding for the project to almost $220 million following $132 million from the former Coalition government.

Elizabeth Lee

Opposition leader Elizabeth Lee wants details on when Canberrans can realistically expect to disembark from the light rail in Woden. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

But Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee questioned the “lack of detail” in the announcement and how the funding will be rolled out.

“We know there will be about $85 million and the start will be $15 million from the 2024-25 financial year and spread across six years,” she said.

“[There are] so many questions about this funding announcement, including whether it is going to be 2030 by the time we see the completion of Stage 2A.”

Chris Steel

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel says Stage 2A won’t take eight years – but wouldn’t be nailed down on dates. Photo: ACT Government.

But Mr Steel refuted this, saying the funding roll-out was not the same as the construction timeframe.

He suggested it would not take another eight years for Stage 2A to be built, but he still would not say when it would be done.

“The timing of Stage 2A operations will be determined through the procurement process currently underway,” he said.

Mr Steel accused the Opposition of “another failed attempt” to jeopardise the project.

READ ALSO Businesses in dark as office block plans compound coming light rail disruption

Initial works have begun on the raising of London Circuit, which has to be done before any tracks can be laid for 2A.

The raising of London Circuit is expected to take around two years.

In budget estimates in August, Mr Steel said a works application for Stage 2A was expected to be submitted to the National Capital Authority by the end of the year.

That application must be approved before a contract can be signed for the construction. Officials said signing a contract too far in advance could carry risks.

The lack of a timeline is despite the fact that in 2021 Mr Steel said light rail tracks would be laid on London Circuit by the 2024 election.

READ ALSO Flooding rain rips apart 60 metres of concrete in Curtin stormwater channel

Then, before Stage 2B can begin, the government must develop a business case for the project. Mr Steel said part of this included determining the “optimal timeframes”.

Planning for 2B is likely to be complicated from a heritage perspective as the light rail will snake through the Parliamentary Triangle.

Work is underway to build a light rail-ready depot in Woden, and some work on the initial design and environmental approvals for Stage 2B has commenced, but no funding for that was provided in the recent Budget, which Ms Lee said was “interesting”.

The pre-feasibility work for Stage 3 (Belconnen to Civic, Airport) – expected to be completed in 2021 – has also been delayed until 2023.

The ACT Greens have joined forced with the Canberra Liberals to push the government for a clear timeframe.

Years of traffic disruptions are expected as the work associated with light rail picks up pace.

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Canberra Libs: We don’t want light rail
Also Canberra Libs: Why is Light Rail taking so long?

I just love that picture of Elizabeth Lee above!! It just says it all about the confusion that reigns supreme in the Canberra Liberal party at the moment! No policies and total confusion!! No matter what people think of the light rail, we have an expanding city with a rapidly increasing population. We can’t just keep building roads for more cars. Where is the Canberra Liberals’ transport plan! Opposition transport spokesman Mark Parton has been very cagey on this issue. The Liberals have never supported the light rail so they have to come up with some sort of plan of their own rather than sniping from the sidelines at Labor. Come on, where is the Canberra Liberals’ transport plan!

I agree. The picture is one of the Liberal party bereft of ideas, policy and leadership. Except, the policy on the trams – STOP at the lake. South of the lake is a prime opportunity for an Automated Rapid Bus system…but that concept might be too big for the present Liberal mind.

So instead of being 100 years too late it’ll be 110 years.
ACT made the choice not to go rail when the bridge washed away in 2021.

Ray Polglaze8:41 pm 30 Oct 22

Is there a current estimate of the total cost of Light Rail Stage 2A from Civic to the lake. Just over a year ago, the estimated total cost of Stage 2A was $162 million. With the previous Coalition Commonwealth Government’s $132 million and the current Labor Commonwealth Government’s $85.6 million, the Commonwealth’s contribution to Stage 2A is now almost $220 million.

I am perplexed because this is $58 million more than the estimated total cost of $162 million from just last year. Is $220 million now the estimated total cost of Stage 2A and is the Commonwealth now covering the total cost of Stage 2A? Or is the actual estimated total cost of Stage 2A now something above $220 million with a contribution from the ACT Government?

Is the cost now $220 million or more to cover the roughly one kilometre from the Alinga Street station to the Lake? That is similar to the distance from the Alinga Street station to Haig Park.

Not The Mama3:58 pm 30 Oct 22

It’s reprehensible that the Government is now diverting funds from road projects in the South (where the light rail will never go) into Stage 2A. When will the years of neglect of the Tuggeranong Valley over the past 30 years receive even a little bit of attention?

You must have missed the well worn Mr Barr election strategy. Before an election make all these promises on what you are going to deliver to Tuggeranong residents in the next term. Then simply delay these promises through never funding them each budget and then scrap them when the timing works or another event like GFC, Mr Fluffy or Covid hits.

Then you can re-announce them like they’re new and start the cycle again. Athlonn Dr duplication, Sulwood duplication, New Ice Rink, Fix Lake Tuggeranong, upgrade sports ovals and change rooms, etc.

The other method is make big sounding promises that when finally delivered turn out to be about a 10th of what the ACT government claimed they would be. Check out these crappy examples. Tuggeranong CIT, lake foreshore upgrade, Erindale bus interchange, faster bus services, the super school.

I go on holiday for a few weeks and thought Light Rail 2A would have been built by now. 😉

I have strongly supported Katy Gallaghers complaints about the Coalition funding regional infrastructure that didn’t align with the best cost benefit analysis and value for money assessments. Then first chance she gets, she hypocritically funds a project with the worst cost benefit return of any infrastructure project ever undertaken in Canberra. A project that received a scathing report from the Auditor General.

Ah, and so we learn today that there isn’t actually any additional infrastructure funds for the ACT, the local ALP have just done another deal to redirect funds from needed road projects to their white elephant Light Rail.

When are people going to wake up to the incompetence of these clowns.

So the feds pick well deserving projects that will add / help Canberra as they are currently issues.
ACT labor then redirect money from fixes into new spending.

Does that mean that those projects are never able to be fixed as the commonwealth is like we already put money on those.

The ACT government is Jack, the commonwealth sold Jack some magic beans and the taxpayer is Jacks mother.
Jack sold the cow and came home with magic beans.
However, unlike the original tale the only place we are climbing is into more and more debt and taxes/ levies/ green pyramid schemes.

Trevor Willis9:20 am 29 Oct 22

This is the greatest waste of money ever. Barr should show some leadership and instruct Steel to give definite timings and estimates for the completion. If this is not possible, then cancel the whole thing before it progresses any further. Why should we citizens be left with such a great financial burden for the unknown future of a complete waste of time for a completely useless transport system ??

No one has been able to explain to me the logic of building LR to the lake, when a business case for 2B hasn’t been completed.

If 2B doesn’t stack up and it’s cancelled, who is going to catch LR from the City to the LBG and back?

HiddenDragon6:50 pm 28 Oct 22

But wait, there’s less! (and no free steak knives, either…..) –

“Officials revealed the Barr government was responsible for picking which projects were heading for the chopping block during discussions in the lead up to federal Labor’s budget released this week”


Looking forward to the plucky propaganda about light fail getting to Woden in time for the golden anniversary of self-gummint.

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