Canberra needs a new multi-modal public transport hub with connections to the Parliamentary Zone and the city and beyond to replace the ageing railway station in Kingston, the city’s public transport lobby says.
Public Transport Association of Canberra chair Ryan Hemsley said a recent call from the Inner South Canberra Community Service for the railway station to be upgraded or relocated to create a district transport hub, including park and ride, should restart the conversation about its future.
Mr Hemsley said the railway station was not sustainable in the longer term, particularly if the current low number of Sydney services remained. He urged the ACT Government to continue its work with NSW for a faster train journey between the two capitals.
“The nicest station on that site won’t increase patronage so long as there are only three services utilising the station each day,” Mr Hemsley said.
“The reason there are only three services is that demand isn’t there, and demand isn’t there because the journey time is just too long, so there needs to be a whole of infrastructure analysis that looks at speeding up that journey time between Sydney and Canberra.”
But it still made no sense to retain or build a new station on that site given how much Canberra has changed since it was first built.
Mr Hemsley said a new station site needed to be considered in the context of the proposed higher-density East Lake urban renewal project and connections into and out of Canberra.
“We envisage that any long-term solution for the new railway station would involve a fast mass transit connection linking the new station to other parts of Canberra including the Parliamentary area and the City.
He said one option would be to build a new station adjacent to the growing Dairy Road Precinct near Fyshwick, which is also close to East Lake.
“There is a really good opportunity if they decided to integrate a new railway station with the East Lake precinct, which is still in early planning stages despite being planned for the better part of 10 years,” he said.
The light rail master plan includes an extension to Fyshwick, and it has been canvassed that it be extended even further to growing Queanbeyan.
If a faster Canberra-Sydney rail service used a modified alignment and did not stop at Queanbeyan, the existing heavy rail corridor could be used for light rail, Mr Hemsley said.
“Any long-term solution for extending light rail out to Queanbeyan should consider the new location of the railway station and options to integrate those two modes to enable seamless transfers and good connection between the railway station and Canberra City,” he said.
But government plans for a new station site appear to be on the shelf for now.
A government spokesperson said preliminary planning for East Lake included investigations into the future of the Canberra Railway Station.
“Alternative locations for the station were investigated; however, the current location is supported by community responses and the need to retain efficient connections between interstate passenger rail and the ACT’s transport networks,” the spokesperson said.
The government continued to work with the NSW Government and Federal Government on potential future improvements to the Canberra to Sydney interstate passenger rail service.
Any changes to Canberra Railway Station would include opportunities for the community to provide its input, the spokesperson said.