Keep a rail corridor into Civic

I-filed 26 August 2009 50

Stanhope on 666 this morning accused citizens texting in to express concern about the proposal to develop the Kingston Rail Site, and move the train station further out, of “being misinformed”. Without detail on the table, it’s hard to be informed, isn’t it?
What a retrograde step – moving any opportunity for a rail hub further out from central Canberra! It was already a hassle having the train line ending at Kingston.
Any environmentally valid, strategic plans to redevelop the shunting yards would simply have to keep a rail corridor with the potential to run right into Civic.
Perhaps not even in the mid term, rail may stay under-used. But the long-term should be clear: high speed train to Sydney, and light rail potentially using heavy-rail infrastructure.
How on Earth did the CSIRO scientists manage to figure that turning the Kingston rail site into apartments is in keeping with sound environmental planning?
And where’s the evidence of public consultation on the part of CSIRO/ACTPLA on this one?


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50 Responses to Keep a rail corridor into Civic
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MrPC MrPC 11:21 am 29 Aug 09

The states can rip up railway lines whenever they please. Just look at the “Rail Trails” movement. Or the history of John Cain and later Jeff Kennett ripping up rail lines across Victoria.

In NSW there is a state law that says only an act of parliament can “close” a rail line, however, plenty of lines are disused, impassable, and even lifted without that. Just look at the level crossing sites on the Monaro Highway where the rails have been cut and removed, and the road resurfaced with no evidence of a crossing (except for the disused rail lines metres away on both sides). The line isn’t officially closed, it’s just had services suspended. Guess which state agency ripped up those rails?

I-filed I-filed 10:59 am 29 Aug 09

Ryoma said :

But as already pointed out, why on earth you would remove a long-term option for a better transport system is beyond me.

.

I believe there is commonwealth legislation that prevents the states from ripping up railway lines for that exact reason – I wonder whether the ACT is exempt? If not, it might be an idea to remind Kim Il John that he has a responsibility to posterity. I’ve never voted Liberal, but intend to do so next election because of this government’s myopic and mediocre approach.

Ryoma Ryoma 8:22 am 29 Aug 09

When I first got up here to Canberra, I went to see the National Planning Authority builing in Commonwealth Park. It showed a map outlining a rail line running from Kingston up Constitution Ave into Civic.

I have no problem with building apartments at Kingston – I think higher densities in areas near Civic and the town centres makes sense. But as already pointed out, why on earth you would remove a long-term option for a better transport system is beyond me.

Where does our Fearless Leader think all his new residents are going to park? Why does he not recognise that not all of us wish to be forced to pay thousands of dollars to own a lump of metal that is a financial balck hole?

I am not suggesting he needs to build either light or heavy rail any time soon (although it would make sense once the densities rise), but simply to leave the option open.

Congratulations, Mr. Stanhope. I have written to you once before on this, and received a smug form letter in response. You have now lost my vote and angered me into the bargain, and I will be actively telling people to vote against your bunch.

MrPC MrPC 10:42 pm 28 Aug 09

Light Rail to Calwell wouldn’t make sense unless the ACT was going to develop land at Tralee. Oops, that’s in NSW, so of course that means co-ordination would be required. Never going to happen.

And it doesn’t matter to me for another reason too, since I’m moving in a few weeks (hopefully).

I’m wondering.. If my new place was in, say, Oaks Estate, or the top end of Queanbeyan near the rail station, would it be practical to commute to Snowtown on foot, to save on petrol and parking? Aah, the thrill of planning stuff ahead.

Oh, and one more reason is that I am totally against light rail in the beginning. I’ve lived in Melbourne. I’ve used Light Rail in Sydney, Adelaide and Los Angeles. I’ve paid close attention to Light Rail elsewhere, and basically, it’s a crock. Light Rail in the US is called Light Rail because if they used real trains they would have to be three times as heavy as they need to be to meet overblown safety standards, and that’s impractical. We don’t have those sort of absurd regulations here. As such, it’s a capacity argument. Do you want something that can match the usefulness of buses (but costing ten times as much) that happens to look shinier and more european? Or, alternately, do you want something that can actually move large numbers of people? That’s where Heavy Rail or Metro Rail comes in, and that’s where Light Rail absolutely fails.

(Further, with metro rail, if it’s grade separated, you can run them driverless, and on an ongoing basis it will cost next to nothing to run, unlike Light Rail, which doesn’t offer any ongoing cost savings on fleet renewal or crewing over the cost of running as many buses as ACTION is forced to run).

Pandy Pandy 6:26 pm 28 Aug 09

It could even defer the need to build the Majura Pwy, with the money saved going a long way towards paying for those improved PT services. This has been our public position for ages that improved PT to the airport precinct is preferred over the road upgrade.

Delaying it will only mean greater costs later on, eg GDE. But good to hear that on
Wednesday, 03 June 2009 19:08 and Saturday, 06 December 2008 18:00 the GCC were fully behind the building of Majura Parkway. Thus you wont need theat light rail link [grin], which Mr PC probably would like to be built to Calwell instead.

Just use one lane on either side of existing Northbourne as peak hour dedicated bus lane. You know it makes sense.

Thoroughly Smashed Thoroughly Smashed 3:22 pm 28 Aug 09

MrPC said :

Stick a few T-Way cameras there too and it’ll be a nice little earner from those who ignore the no entry signs.

Or install automatic bollards and then post the resulting humourous videos on the internet.

MrPC MrPC 3:21 pm 28 Aug 09

Northbourne would be a disaster for a one lane busway, for several reasons.

1) There is local bus patronage that would be lost/abandoned/confused by the change in bus stop locations

2) There are cross streets every hundred metres. The buses would have to yield, because you can’t trust motorists to yield right of way inside median strips. Just spend five minutes in Melbourne (eg: on Victoria Parade) to know that. As a result, it’d have to be grade separated, or at the very least, introduce traffic lights at practically every intersection that would punish any motorist that wants to turn right across Northbourne Avenue.

If you were going to build a grade separated busway down Northbourne, you may as well make it two lanes (one each way). You’d also want to ensure that pedestrians have grade separated pedestrian routes to/from their offices or flats or cross streets down under the road to the underground bus stops.

Using the rail corridor would be substantially easier since it already is grade separated, and further, the buses aren’t allowed to carry local passengers (except if they board or alight in NSW) so there’d be way fewer issues with moving and siting bus stops.

As for BBP and Gunghalin, there is absolutely no congestion problem on Majura Road despite what the numbsculls say on the radio every morning. Sure, buses would be good, but having had first hand experience with buses at BBP, even paying $75 a month for snowtown parking isn’t enough to discourage me from driving to work every day, despite a bus ticket costing roughly the same amount of money.

Sure, it’s not Gunghalin, but this applies even more so for those people. There is no easy way to get from BBP to Theodore (as in my case) at 6:01pm. The last bus for the night to Tuggeranong leaves a few minutes before I knock off work, and it doesn’t stop in my part of Tuggeranong so it’s not that much use. As such, I have to go all the way into Civic first before I could even start heading south. The 6:10pm bus to Civic detours around Bland Depot and doesn’t even get to Civic until 6:34pm. When driving I’m already in Theodore by 6:25pm.

As for people driving to Gunghalin, even if there were direct buses (there aren’t, even the 757 Expresso to Gunghalin goes via Limestone Avenue, not direct), they would have to be ultra frequent to avoid any waiting time. Assuming the poor but fairly typical ACTION frequency of every 20-30 minutes in peak hour, you can drive to Gunghalin even in peak hour in the same amount of time it takes to wait for the next bus just to arrive. Further, from what I’m told by my former boss, who lives in Ngunnawal, the 757 buses stop right at Gunghalin Town Centre without proceeding into the suburbs, and they always arrive just after the buses into the suburbs have just departed, meaning she had to stand around and wait half an hour to get to an actual destination.

ACTION management need to be taken to the vet and put down, promptly, IMHO.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 12:20 pm 28 Aug 09

MrPC: a bus lane down Northbourne would only need to be a single “tidal” lane down the middle. This would switch at midday from inbound to outbound.

One bus lane would easily fit down Northbourne without loss of any trees. The return runs can use the normal traffic lanes as they are relatively free of congestion during peak periods. This way the peak morning inbounds and evening outbounds can travel unencumbered once the right-turn phases are over.

With no traffic to contend with, they could easily travel up to 80kph. It takes 30-35 minutes by car from the Barton Hwy intersection to Civic in the mornings but an 80kph bus could easily do it in 20 minutes, including drop-offs.

Such an express route could be either combined with or separated from the local services. If combined, the outside traffic lane would be freed up for drivers rather than getting blocked at every stop. But stopping bays would be needed along the bus lane to prevent “clumping” for following buses that don’t need to stop at the same place.

If the local services remained in the outside traffic lane this would mean passengers don’t have to cross from the middle over to the footpath. But stopping bays would be (and are now anyway) needed so that the buses don’t block the traffic when they stop.

On Majura, Defence has a lot of (and growing) space at BBP and a lot of homes around Gungahlin. It is no fault of those people that they are forced to work out at BBP, and they deserve a decent PT option to driving. And if the option is well-scheduled, then there’s less need for cars. It could even defer the need to build the Majura Pwy, with the money saved going a long way towards paying for those improved PT services. This has been our public position for ages that improved PT to the airport precinct is preferred over the road upgrade. Just go to http://www.gcc.asn.au and search on majura and brindabella.

MrPC MrPC 9:48 am 28 Aug 09

Err, not enough space for 2 lanes.

MrPC MrPC 9:37 am 28 Aug 09

I wouldn’t bother with an O-Bahn or other guided busway. There are no tunnels to negotiate safely, like there were in Germany, so it’d be as pointless as the Adelaide one is. It introduces complexity where there doesn’t need to be complexity, and introduces trademark/patent expenses since you have to buy buses from one supplier or buy a license to use their particular variety of guide wheels from a rival supplier.

Just a normal road, albeit one lane (since I’m pretty sure there’s not going to be enough spaces for two lanes). Limit it to buses only. Just like Sydney’s T-Ways or a Brisbane Busway.

Stick a few T-Way cameras there too and it’ll be a nice little earner from those who ignore the no entry signs.

Pandy Pandy 9:50 pm 27 Aug 09

The 250 million to build Majura Parkway would cover easily the cost of
one light rail route, and rolling stock.

Not supported by any facts, just fanciful thinking.

If [I emphasis if] there is a return on investment of 2 to 1 to build a
single light rail route to lets say Gungahlin, why is not the private
sector falling over themselves lobbying the government to build the thing?
[hears crickets chirping in the stillness]. I think the true story is that the
Government has had another look at the figures.

The Majura Parkway would still need to be built for an extra $250 million.
Not only would it help Gungahlinites get to Snow Town in the morning, it
helps with the freight transport issues and is the first link in
developing the Majura Valley for light industrial uses.

I am certain that the GCC is 100% behind the Majura Parkway just as they were 100% behind the GDE. Or are they?

@Mr PC: What a guided busway? LOL It’s called O-Bahn and would be a very good option for that corridor.

MrPC MrPC 6:13 pm 27 Aug 09

Re Queanbeyan to Kingston, IMHO they should build a one lane road for buses only between those two locations via the rail alignment. The buses in peak hour peak direction can use it, and anyone who was going to get off along the current bus route can just proceed to the end of the busway and get the next bus back to their actual destination in the counter-peak direction.

The rail alignment is more than wide enough to allow for a single lane busway without needing to remove the current main line. They may need to rearrange some of the sidings, but that’s about all.

Suddenly those who travel from Queanbeyan into Canberra in peak hour and back in the evening can get a very fast run, regardless of traffic conditions in Manuka/Fyshwick. The buses can do their little lap of Queanbeyan and run all the way into Civic, as they already do.

While I normally don’t feel the need to preserve the single seat ride at all costs like certain public transport advocates, this is one situation where single seat would be appropriate. You have a city at one end with cheap housing but ample local facilities, and a city at the other end with employment and educational institutions, and there’s plenty of peak hour peak direction travel but not much of anything else. A tidal flow bus lane would be a cheap and effective solution to improve the effectiveness of the existing buses and allow for more to be run since the sooner the bus reaches Civic in the morning, the sooner it can hightail it out to Queanbeyan and pick up another load of passengers.

I-filed I-filed 5:28 pm 27 Aug 09

CSIRO contradicted Stanhope very smartly in the Canberra Times this morning …

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy 4:44 pm 27 Aug 09
caf caf 4:16 pm 27 Aug 09

And – what about running a little QBN Canberra train through peak hour? That might take some pressure off Canberra Ave.

Get a bus to meet them in Kingston to drop off in Barton and Civic, charge $4 each way, and I reckon you’d be onto a winner. There’d probably be time to do 3-4 runs each morning, and Queanbeyanites could park for free at the Qbn train station and surroundings.

Build a platform near Tharwa Dr / Thompsitt Dr and you could run it Jerrabomberra – Qbn – Kingston even.

I’ll buy shares if you put a business plan together 😉

caf caf 4:11 pm 27 Aug 09

I’m not suggesting that private sector organisations would want to build rail to replace their use of roads, but rather to sell the use of such rail to others, through selling tickets to humans and freight services to other companies for the purpose of generating a profit. That is, invest to build the rail service, then charge for its use to make money going forward.

Sure, but currently if they did that, they’d be competing against the Government who gives away a freight infrastructure service (the road network) essentially for free. Competing against free isn’t too attractive. I note that no-one’s planning to build a private interstate road network, either.

I don’t personally know whether, in a totally free market, a rail or road network would win out – but it’s doubtful that we’re going to ever find out, because the market isn’t ever going to be free. The Government is picking winners when it decides how much of the transport budget to spend on each method of transport (and that’s probably entirely appropriate in this particular sector), which is highly distorting to the decisions that private firms are making in the sector. It’s just that when the Government picks a winner, you lose any information on what should have been the winner.

I do note that in places where the road network isn’t sufficiently subsidised (eg. the Pilbara), private firms have indeed chosen to build private freight railways. This suggests that at least sometimes, rail can be more economically efficient than road.

Jerry Atric Jerry Atric 4:09 pm 27 Aug 09

My 1923 map of Canberra shows a proposed railway loop from Goulburn to Yass via Canberra passing through about the same place as the Flynn Primary School. Hey! Was that the reason for closing the school? It would make a damn fine station!

The negotiations setting up the capital territory included a guarantee that NSW would build this link to enable complementary direct access to Melbourne as well as Sydney – conveniently forgotten when war and depression were uppermost in government mind.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy 2:39 pm 27 Aug 09

sepi said :

ANd – what about running a little QBN Canberra train through peak hour? That might take some pressure off Canberra Ave.

Get a bus to meet them in Kingston to drop off in Barton and Civic, charge $4 each way, and I reckon you’d be onto a winner. There’d probably be time to do 3-4 runs each morning, and Queanbeyanites could park for free at the Qbn train station and surroundings.

sepi sepi 12:13 pm 27 Aug 09

Trevar plenty of people catch trains and trams to work in bigger cities – not just the plebs. As Canberra grows it makes sense to expand public transport, not shrink it like our lot have done. And especially to plan for the future and keep rail corridors.

Danman – oops – how could I forget the train to Melb goes via lovely Yass Junction – many a freezing night out there waiting for the 11pm to Melbourne – yuck. I used to catch the Sydney train a lot too, before they cut the timetable back to once a day at a bad time.

And the talk of scenic tourist trains says it all for me – people like trains. They go out of their way to go on tourist trains. Noone ever goes on a tourist bus.

ANd – what about running a little QBN Canberra train through peak hour? That might take some pressure off Canberra Ave.

PM PM 12:05 pm 27 Aug 09

damien haas said :

caf nails it.

The 250 million to build Majura Parkway would cover easily the cost of one light rail route, and rolling stock.

And it would gave returned a profit.

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