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Federal inquiry probes Stage 2 of light rail to Woden

By Ian Bushnell 14 May 2018 45

A light rail vehicle (file photo). The preferred route through Parkes and Barton will be of particular interest to the committee. 

The extension of light rail to Woden through the Parliamentary Triangle will face the extra scrutiny of a federal inquiry.

Both the ACT Government and the Opposition have welcomed the inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories, although for different reasons.

The Committee will inquire into the parliamentary approval processes for works within the Parliamentary zone, the role of the National Capital Authority and possible impacts on the Parliamentary zone and Parliamentary precincts, including heritage values.

Chair of the Committee, Liberal Member for Tangney Ben Morton, said the land around the Federal Parliament was an important space for all Australians.

“It is therefore appropriate that the Parliament has a role in ensuring that any proposals for change preserve this significance. The inquiry will also provide the ACT Government with an early indication of the Parliament’s view of its proposal,” he said.

Minister for Transport and City Services Meegan Fitzharris said the ACT Government would cooperate with the inquiry and welcomed the opportunity to again demonstrate the benefits of a city-wide light rail network in Canberra.

She said planning and design for Stage Two are well under way with the City to Woden route that travels through Parkes and Barton now the ACT Government’s preferred route.

“The ACT Government is committed to building a light rail network for Canberra, and extending light rail to Woden. We will continue to work with relevant stakeholders, and welcome this opportunity to address the terms of reference of the Joint Standing Committee’s inquiry,” she said.

“It is my hope that this inquiry will provide all stakeholders with clarity about the approvals process, how we can best protect and enhance the heritage values and national importance of the Parliamentary Zone, and ensure all parties have a shared understanding of the huge benefit light rail will have for people in Woden, the Inner South and Canberra more broadly.”

Transport spokesperson Candice Burch said the inquiry meant Labor, which had refused to release a full business case for light rail, would be held to account.

“The Federal Parliament needs to sign off on any route that goes through the Parliamentary Triangle anyway. It’s entirely appropriate that the Federal Parliament gets to ask hard questions of the ACT Government,” she said.

“Light Rail Stage Two is a large project that presents significant infrastructure challenges. We welcome an additional layer of scrutiny to ensure that Canberra is getting value for money from this project.”

Ms Burch said Light Rail Stage Two would need significant infrastructure spending for possible new bridges over the lake, at Kings Avenue, and at Yarra Glen. “We want to make sure that this spending delivers value for money,” she said.

But Ms Fitzharris warned the Canberra Liberals not to be obstructionist or try to sabotage the project.

“While I fully expect the Canberra Liberals and [Senator] Zed Seselja to do everything in their power to oppose and criticise light rail through this process, I would urge them to remember that this should first and foremost be about how we plan for Canberra’s growth, reduce congestion and enhance liveability,” she said.

“The people of Canberra voted for light rail and that is what this government is determined to deliver.”

The Committee will accept written submissions until Friday, 15 June 2018. For more information, go here.


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45 Responses to
Federal inquiry probes Stage 2 of light rail to Woden
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Queanbeyanite 7:24 am 18 May 18

YES! Let’s double down and borrow another $2 billion. An extra half dozen bendy busses could have done this job for under $20 million.

Warwick Penn Bradly 6:46 am 16 May 18

The plan is to choke Commonwealth Ave and Kings Ave simultaneously - maybe the anger of Federal pollies at the prospect of being delayed might stop this nonsense.

    Daniel Andres 11:43 am 19 May 18

    Come on Waz. How will federal polies be affected, it’s not like any live here, federal polies are just white collar FIFO workers.

    Warwick Penn Bradly 12:09 pm 19 May 18

    Daniel Andres True, but there are the crucial routes between airport and parly, and parly and the upmarket Kingston/Manuka restaurants.

Lucy Baker 9:48 pm 15 May 18

Stage 2 should go to the airport and Queanbeyan.

    Queanbeyanite 7:26 am 18 May 18

    No Thanks! You voted for it, you pay for it. Our rates are just fine thanks, especially when all the poor move out here when your rates are hiked again.

JC 8:04 pm 15 May 18

janet, great uglification on Canberra? Really. Like the 6 lane road called Northbourne Ave doesn’t exist or is ugly or the 4 lane road called Flemington road with all those streetlights wasn’t ugly. Whilst it does nothing to improve the look it certainly ain’t making it any uglier.

I’ve said befor my one main gripe with the overhead is along Flemington road in particular why they didn’t install new street lights and use them to support the overhead. Would have been less poles. That said they appear to be moving th street lights in part to the outside of Flemington road and doing the landscaping now which is softening it all.

gooterz 7:47 am 15 May 18

“reduce congestion”
Hasn’t it been stated time and time again that light rail will increase congestion.
Its both a traffic obstacle, construction nightmare and driver to rapidly increase density

    astro2 3:39 pm 15 May 18

    It hasn’t been stated “time and time again” that light rail will increase congestion except by anti-light-rail commenters. Taking more cars off the road doesn’t increase congestion – it reduces it.

    JC 6:03 pm 15 May 18

    Astro I think people put two and two together and come up with 69.

    It is true that Northbourne will become more congested but that is in the future and is a result of more people living out that way not light rail.

    The bit that is always left off is that without light rail this congestion would happen sooner. But people always looking for an excuse to blame lightrail. I hear it causes cancer and some earless and blind lizards have been displaced.

    KentFitch 9:15 pm 15 May 18

    Yes, gooterz, it has. Even Capital Metro’s own EIS showed this, comparing traffic in 2021 with and without the tram:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20151004153425/http://www.planning.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/41352/Capital_Metro_Light_Rail_Stage_1_Draft_EIS_Volume_03_Part_5-Traffic_and_Transport.pdf

    -Average combined AM and PM peak period vehicle speed over the road network around the proposed route (not just traffic on the direct route) decreases from 27.8 km/hr without light-rail to 23.1 km/hr with light-rail (Table 4.2, page 38).

    – For traffic on the direct route, the travel time for a peak-period return trip from Gungahlin to Civic with the predominant traffic flow (to Civic in the AM, to Gungahlin in the PM) increases from 52 minutes 6 seconds without light-rail to 55 minutes 23 seconds with light-rail (Table 4.3, page 39).

    – The analysis of intersection performance over AM and PM peaks shows that the combined number of intersections at which traffic will exceed capacity more than triples from 2 without light-rail to 7 with light-rail. Further, the combined number of intersections which will be operating at the limits of their capacity doubles from 3 without light-rail to 6 with light-rail (Table 4.5 to 4.10, pages 41 to 45).

    But It is worse than the EIS admits. In their response to the EIS, the ACT Government Environment and Planning Directorate (EPD) called out the fiddling of the tram-case modelling to assume duplication of Flemington south of Wells Station, but to assume this would not happen under “business as usual”. TAMS pointed out a further mysterious error which in the tram-case modelling in which 1100 vehicles seem to have just disappeared from the model at between Swinden St and Barton Highway, only to rematerialise at the next intersection, Phillip Av. Capital Metro’s response to EPD and TAMS was incoherent.

aussielyn 8:51 pm 14 May 18

It will be interesting to watch Princess Meegan under interrogation, or will she leave hearings to CM ?

HiddenDragon 8:24 pm 14 May 18

It may not be an issue for the federal inquiry, but if there are to be few, if any, stops between Woden and the inner south/Parliamentary triangle, this becomes a very expensive express (sort of) service, with limited opportunities for “value capture” (compared to the northside line) from potential developments which are within acceptable (by Canberra standards) walking distance from Yarra Glen/Adelaide Avenue.

Lucy Baker 6:56 pm 14 May 18

At least Andrew Barr and Meeghan Fitzharris won’t be able to knock down everything within sight along this route and give developers free rein to build cr*ppy cheap poky badly designed flats all the way.

    chewy14 10:44 pm 14 May 18

    They may not be able to knock down as much but there’s plenty of room for more apartments if you take a good hard look at a map……and you can bet they are.

Janet Ilchef 6:32 pm 14 May 18

What are they going to do with the beautiful trees on commonwealth avenue? Knock them down? Seems to me Mr Barrs is the knock em down government - trees and houses

    Iaian Ross 8:02 pm 14 May 18

    Have a hunch the NCA will suggest the route go onto King Edward Tce, then divert by the Treasury before going onto King George Tce. Fewer trees that way.

    Janet Ilchef 8:56 pm 14 May 18

    hope you're right. It's the Great Uglification of Canberra, to my mind

rfc 3:09 pm 14 May 18

I understand the reason for diverting the rail through the Parliamentary Zone was due to a earlier survey however I feel this is not a good way to go.

Is the purpose of phase 2 to provide bulk transport from Tuggeranong and Woden into Civic? If the answer is yes then the diversion defeats the purpose.

The diversion should be classed as a ‘could have’ rather than a ‘must have’. Taking the diversion out would no doubt reduce the cost which could be better spent on the proposed bridge over the lake.

Lets stick to proper planning.

    jamesblake2908 5:04 pm 14 May 18

    Agreed, the indirect route is going to put off pretty much everyone beyond Deakin who wants to go to the CBD, and they’ll end up having to bring back the Blue Rapid. It should be the direct route, but they should move the Parliament station to the end of Brisbane Ave, providing bus and pedestrian connections to Barton

    JC 6:05 pm 14 May 18

    And that is the reason I am not a supporter of stage 2. If it is for Woden/Tuggeranong to the city it needs to only stop between Woden and the city at Albert hall.

    If it is to service the parl triangle then happy for what is planned however it is cannot be as a replacement for the current express buses.

    And same for Gungahlin really. Happy for the 200 bus to be replaced but the peak hour expresses from the burbs need to stay.

    Capital Retro 9:14 pm 14 May 18

    Well, if the light rail was about public transport it would follow the route that you nominate.

    Given the boss of the tram project has already stated the Canberra light rail has nothing to do with public transport as it is only about urban renewal the Stage Two tram is only going to meander where there is scope to “value add” by building more high density housing.

    astro2 9:01 am 16 May 18

    HI Capital Retro, when you say that the “boss of the tram project” stated that the Canberra Light rail has “nothing to do with public transport” can you actually cite a quote on this? It just doesn’t pass the sniff test I’m afraid.

    Capital Retro 9:22 am 17 May 18

    The March 2017 issue of Track and Signal (www.trackandsignal.com) featured a most comprehensive covering of the Light Rail 2017 conference held at Surfers Paradise on 21-22 February 2017.

    Among the delegates attending, according to the report by Rosalea Ryan, was Duncan Edghill, deputy director-general of Transport Canberra who started his allocated time for addressing the gathering asking the question “Why do light rail in Canberra?”

    He then answered his own question by answering “For us it’s not about public transport; it’s about urban regeneration”

    Let me know if that is enough to pass your sniff test.

    astro2 1:51 pm 18 May 18

    No, actually, Capital Retro, it isn’t as there is no link to the article in question nor is there a direct quote. So it’s quite likely that he is making the point that it isn’t just about public transport but about broader issues of urban regeneration. That’s a different meaning to what you are suggesting.

    Capital Retro 4:48 pm 19 May 18

    How about I get a copy of the speech and have it posted on RiotACT and then everyone can decide for themselves?

    Just because something doesn’t have a “link” doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    Have you contacted Duncan Edghill? Did he deny that he said that?

    astro2 5:31 pm 19 May 18

    Sure, that’s OK you can do that if it would strengthen your position. I am simply making the point that he seems to be referring to the fact that there are multiple benefits from the light rail project: both in more efficient transport and also in urban regeneration as has happened in other cities that have adopted this model. I doubt whether the discovery of this “amazing confession” will be warranting a Royal Commission any time soon.

    Capital Retro 6:03 pm 17 May 18

    Oh boy, were we conned at the 2016 election.

    Here is Duncan Edghill at the Bus Industry Confederation conference just after the ACT 2016 election. giving a speech about public transport in Canberra. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GseSOB_sDts

    At 3.30 he states” the 2016 election was a public transport election”. Nowhere does he mention “urban regeneration” yet 3 months later at another conference he states “Light rail in Canberra is not about public transport; it’s about urban regeneration”

    How/why the Canberra Liberals have missed this is amazing confession but what is now needed is a Royal Commission.

    astro2 1:54 pm 18 May 18

    Canberra can walk and chew gum at the same time. Working on a good transport system has benefits in urban regeneration. What he is referring to is the ‘bigger picture’.

    bj_ACT 10:03 pm 14 May 18

    Spot on JC. If it’s about rapid transport from the southern suburbs, then simply take the shortest and fastest route from Woden to Civic ( or even Mawson or Erindale if you can afford the extra track).

    Add a regular loop bus that times itself with tram arrivals throughout the parliamentary circle that would enable light rail connections from Finance buildings near the Hyatt, through to the art gallery, Tourist sites and PMC area in Barton.

    This current proposal tries to serve everyone and loses sight of light rail design 101.

    It’s like making a dish with Curry, Italian and Fine French cuisines mixed into a one size fits all recipe.

    chewy14 8:05 pm 14 May 18

    Yes,
    It’s almost like they have no idea about what they’re doing, trying to plan options on the fly focused largely on how many votes can be bought in the process.

    The direct route from Woden to Civic is clearly superior, with a future spur line to go through the parliamentary triangle.

    In the interim, they could service the area with a loop bus.

    But no, we once again have extremely short term thinking and no consideration of the best overall outcomes.

    JC 9:18 pm 14 May 18

    Maybe the outcomes they want are different to yours.

    chewy14 8:39 am 15 May 18

    Yes, probably.
    I want a well designed and efficient public transport system that can be delivered at the lowest cost.

    Whereas it seems they would prefer a “legacy” project that spends the most amount of money to deliver very little (except apparently a few more votes in key areas).

    bringontheevidence 3:30 pm 15 May 18

    I used to be opposed to the proposed route, but it seems to be consistent with a future, much wider light rail network.

    If you look at the future Rapid Network map from Tranaport ACT, every section of the proposed stage 2 route overlaps other Rapid routes.

    My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that they’ll keep the blue rapid running in tandem with light rail at first (maybe lower frequency), but when they extend the line to Tuggeranong they’ll include a western bypass of APH as part of the project. That would allow express Woden-Civic transits, replacing the Blue Rapid, while the Parkes/Barton deviation would become part of a future line replacing the R2 bus to Kingston-Fyshwick-(Queanbeyan).

    The section from Barton to Adelaide Ave could also be used for an Airport-Mongolo route via Kings Ave and Cotter Road

    chewy14 8:39 pm 15 May 18

    Bringontheevidence,
    Your idea makes their proposal even worse if they are to create a western bypass in the future.

    They could save money on construction costs and remove the express bus routes by going that western route right now.

    If they were actually thinking of implementing what you suggest, it would be a horrendous waste of money.

    bringontheevidence 11:18 pm 15 May 18

    Chewy14, the stage 2 light rail route isn’t optimised for Woden-Civic travel. Rather, it appears mostly aimed at servicing Parkes and Barton from both directions.

    Anyway, the key point I was trying to make is that none of the construction costs would be ‘wasted’ if they did bypass APH to the West, because those sections would still be used for a future Kingston link

    JC 7:07 am 16 May 18

    Bringontheevidence – most correct and in itself it makes a lot of sense as there are many people in the south who work in Barton and Parkes.

    However that isn’t how this line is being marketed.

    Personally, if they came out and said we will still keep express buses Woden to the city, in the peaks at the least (though I think still needed off peak too but maybe not as many as today) then I would have less to disagree with on with this stage.

    bringontheevidence 10:54 am 16 May 18

    JC – I think in this case the Government’s media people have probably decided that it is more palatable to the broader Canberra community if they market the route as Woden-Civic, even if the immediate goal is to improve public transport through Parkes/Barton and the Blue Rapid will continue.

    I mean, the Blue Rapid would have to continue regardless because it’s the only link between the south of the city and Belconnen, and stops in between like ANU and UC. I can’t imagine current Blue Rapid passengers who’s stops aren’t serviced by the proposed light rail would appreciate changing from a bus to a tram in Woden, sitting on the tram for ten to fifteen minutes longer than now, then jumping back on another bus in the city. I mean, even ANU students from the south would now face either an additional ten minute walk from the city, or having to wait for another bus to take them closer to their campus destination.

    JC 7:28 pm 16 May 18

    I think come the time stage 1 opens all the rapids are getting changed so no more tuggers to Belconnen. So to go to UNU or UC from the south will require a bus change in the city (though ANU students can walk!). The Belconnen Rapids take over the both the Russell/Kingston section of the current 200 bus and also the buses towards the Airport.

    But tellingly the rapids from Woden go two ways. One direct and another through Hughes, Deakin and Barton.

    Capital Retro 8:09 am 17 May 18

    Every university student I know in Canberra actually drives a car to their place of learning so what the busses do and what the tram should do are academic.

    JC 10:00 am 17 May 18

    Australian students yeah, foreign students who make up a significant portion of the Uni population these days no. Plenty on public transport.

    Capital Retro 1:32 pm 17 May 18

    I think they are the ones that ride bikes.

    chewy14 12:24 pm 17 May 18

    Bringontheevidence,
    My point is that a large portion of those sections on the western loop aren’t needed at all for a future Kingston loop, construction costs would be significantly saved through a direct Woden-Civic link and a future spur line through Barton/Parkes to Kingston and further east. The Barton/Parkes area could have been effectively serviced through a loop bus.

    Instead, the proposed route makes the light rail useless for anyone coming from the south going further north than Barton and useless for anyone from the north going further south than Barton. It makes little sense, when far more people work in the City area and inner north along Northbourne than work in Parkes/Barton.

    So going west would have saved money by:
    Saving direct construction costs
    Delaying capital expenditure
    Removing unnecessary bus routes
    Increasing utilisation of light rail

    chewy14 8:03 am 18 May 18

    Sorry, the above should have read that significant portions of the eastern loop aren’t needed to service Parkes/Barton adequately.

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