3 June 2021

Light rail and Woden interchange procurement underway

| Ian Bushnell
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Light rail london circuit

An artist’s impression of the corner of the raised London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue. Photo: ACT Government.

The ACT Government is moving ahead with its flagship public transport projects, releasing the first tender for physical works for light rail Stage 2A to Commonwealth Park and awarding a multi-million dollar contract for works associated with the new Woden interchange and CIT project.

Enabling works for the raising of London Circuit involving the relocation of utility assets are now out for contract and will show the first visible signs of work in the coming months.

The government has also contracted multi-national transport company Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles to provide energy modelling and advice for Stage 2 to Woden.

Meanwhile a $15 million contract has been awarded to local civil engineering company Canberra Contractors for the construction of bus layovers and road works integral to the development of the new interchange on Callum Street.

READ ALSO Take a virtual ride on the next light rail journey

The government is planning an 18-stop interchange with a central light rail platform on Callum Street, and 35 bus layovers nearby in Easty Street and Launceston Street near Phillip Oval.

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel said the utility relocation works must be completed before other light rail projects can start, such as raising London Circuit, which is due to get underway in 2022.

He said these early works include moving telecommunications and water utilities from their current location on London Circuit between Edinburgh Avenue and Constitution Avenue, to a new location along Vernon Circle.

This would ensure that essential services are not disrupted once main works start on raising London Circuit and other parts of delivering Stage 2 of light rail to Woden, he said.

“Building light rail to Woden is the single largest infrastructure build in our city’s history, and the start of construction on early works is now very close,” Mr Steel said.

He said subject to obtaining works approval for the early works and the procurement process, construction was expected to begin as early as August.

Some short-term temporary lane closures will be required, and any traffic changes will be advised ahead of works commencing.

Mr Steel said the government was planning how to manage traffic disruption in and around the city once the broader construction works get under way.

The most disruptive period would begin in 2022, and the government would be providing clear information to business and the community throughout the project to help minimise the impacts.

“Building light rail is going to be very disruptive during construction, but the project will deliver the long-term benefits of making Canberra a more connected, sustainable and vibrant city,” Mr Steel said.

To keep up with the light rail progress go the dedicated government website.

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The distance from Alinga St to the new, first, stop is very long. Will we eventually have to disrupt the Light Rail while an extra stop is built? Just like the Mitchell stop?

HiddenDragon7:47 pm 05 Jun 21

Still musing and daydreaming about minor details such as crossing the lake, the route south of the lake, and last, but certainly not least, funding – but they’ll magically sort themselves out, so let’s just get on and use light rail as a pretext to make a mess of a functional town centre (“tired”/ “dowdy” and functional are not mutually exclusive qualities) and pretend that there’s absolutely no alternatives to what is going to be done to Woden.

Canberrans who have embraced light rail because, among other things, it will make this a “real city”, or a “grown up city”, or words to that effect, could be correct – this does have the potential to be our equivalent of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs railway (and not in a good way). For those unfamiliar, salient details in this Wikipedia article –


“Still musing and daydreaming about minor details such as crossing the lake…?” Nah mate read the article… procurement is underway. You can keep “musing” if you like but the rest of us are moving forward. If you’re worried about how a rail system could possibly cross a body of water I suggest you take a trip to Sydney, change at Central for Circular Quay and check out the trains going over the harbour via that marvel of technology, the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I agree, they can cross the lake. For an enormous amount of cash. To deliver a service that is slower than the current buses. Great.

You may be “moving forward” or whatever the latest buzzword is, but the rest of us are actually paying hand over fist for this white elephant that all evidence shows isn’t needed.

Hi chewy, “an enormous amount of cash” well maybe just have a look around the world to see how many rail trips over bridges there are. (Hint: a lot) If you don’t think poor, impoverished little Canberra can afford it then you’ve probably taken a certain viewpoint that no amount of logic can dissuade. May be a more prudent course of action to try, and enjoy, your future trips on the light rail. (Nice to see the Feds kicking in some cash too 😉

No I’m happy to spend money that has been justified by solid business cases that show value for money.

Perhaps you could link one for this project?

Oh that’s right, no such business case exists. Because the costs far outweigh the benefits.

You’ve clearly taken a viewpoint that any amount of money is justified if you like the end product and no actual evidence would dissuade you of your ignorance.

Unfortunately, those who actually know what they’re talking about will continue to call out the folly of the wasted billions being spent here.

…”those who actually know what they are talking about…” wonder who they would be? The Federal Government supports the business case for light rail, as does the Federal opposition, ACT Government and ACT opposition. t’s pretty hard to find anyone beyond a handful of curmudgeonly old baby boomers, who are still shaking their fists and rattling their zimmer frames about it. It’s commonly called “flogging a dead horse.”

And yet you can provide no evidence or documentation to show the project makes sense and is the best use of taxpayer dollars.

Your emotional statements about dissenters to the project aren’t a substitute for evidence. Although we both know you don’t actually have any, which is why you constantly try to deflect.

Although I do find it amusing you think the fact that the government has decided to do something as evidence that it’s a good decision. If the government gave every citizen a Ferrari, you’d find it was popular as well.

Hi Chewy, as mentioned previously the evidence is on the ACT government website. I’m sure you already know this and just won’t accept it. However, if you want to write a stern letter to any of the above mentioned (Federal government and ACT government) telling them why they are wrong then you should do that. I’m sure they’ll be interested to hear about your superior economic wisdom. Cheers.

Capital Retro7:30 pm 06 Jun 21

A bit of respect for the older generation wouldn’t go astray, astro2.

Governments (and their elected members who have no personal accountability) have no commercial judgement so why should we agree with them? Look at the failed pet projects the ACT government has already backed.

And as previously advised I’ve read all the information on the ACT government’s website and no such information as you are claiming exists.

If you don’t want to look like a fool, then you’ll have to be specific with exact links and documents.

The fact that we both know you can’t and won’t do that is telling.

Just google it bud. Easy. As Paul Keating used to say “The dogs bark and the caravan moves on.” In this case the light rail has definitely moved on. A small handful of people just don’t want to see that. (The Federal Government obviously gets it otherwise they wouldn’t be investing.)

Thanks for freely admitting you can’t support your position with evidence and instead rely on emotional arguments. Although that type of deliberate ignorance explains perfectly why we end up with the government’s we do.

The city of Canberra certainly is become denser, although not in the way you think.

I do wonder if it will be built on a raised platform of concrete, as the present one is.
Wouldn’t it be a lot cheaper to do away with the platform ?
I don’t seem to remember seeing any down in Melbourne.

Melbourne does use rails embedded in concrete on newer sections of track, they also use rails in ballast too like a normal train.

The method that is most common in Melbourne is rails on sleepers that are then encased in concrete or hot mix asphalt. That is a cheaper construction method but has a far higher maintenance cost.

If a rail needs replacement the whole roadway needs to be ripped up to get the rail out.

Melbourne continues to use this method because the vast majority of the track is in the middle of active roadways so they use it because it’s quick to replace. To replace with the type used here would need week long road closures which just won’t happen. So they wear the higher maintenance cost.

The method used here and also in Sydney, Newcastle, Gold Coast has a higher upfront cost but as the tracks are held in channels in the concrete base through a chemical adhesive if the rails need repairing they can easily be removed and replaced. This reduces the maintenance cost as the concrete base will last several trac replacements.

consumeradvocatecanberra2:14 pm 05 Jun 21

Unfortunately the people of Canberra have put their head in the sand and not weighed up the effects of this heavy expenditure project, which will not deliver significant better patronage than already exists, which is poor anyway. We have ourselves to blame. If emissions are the issue, why not car sharing which could take 50% of the cars off the road? Nah, too simple and cheap to run. We have to do things that are expensive to show the world we are the Nation’s Capital. It is about keeping Greens in government. We need a second or larger jail too folks, and more swimming pools for our kids to learn, and community halls to name a few.
Bah humbug!

If “the people of Canberra” have put their heads in the sand” (by not agreeing with your viewpoint) then so have the people of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Newcastle, the Gold Coast, Perth and Adelaide, all of which have rail (light and/or heavy) rail systems as well as buses. Oh, and by the way all the aforementioned cities and regions don’t have Greens government so there goes that argument.

So your argument is other cities have jumped off a cliff, we should too?

Perhaps you’d like to link the business case showing light rail Is a smart move for Canberra?

Oh that’s right, it doesnt exist. Sorry.

Thanks for apologising, but there’s really no need. Your entitled to your opinion, even if it’s not supported by what is happening across Australia in regards to transport. Fear not, the other cities mentioned in my previous post are doing quite fine. All the information on light rail is available on the ACT government website in transport canberra.

Yes i am sorry Astro.

That ignorant people still get a vote that counts equally to those who are informed. It always leads to poor outcomes like we see with light rail where emotion prevails over evidence and logic.

“All the information on light rail is available on the ACT government website in transport canberra.”

Thanks for admitting that the relevant documentation doesn’t exist because as you say, all the information is on their website.

Although i will give you credit for being open that you dont value proper planning and that any expenditure can be justified in your head because other much larger cities can afford it.

That’s very sad. Now it’s democracy’s fault that light rail is so popular. Cheer up chewy – under a democratic system you don’t have to use it either. You can shake your fist and curse as it glides smoothly and silently by.

And yet I have to pay for it and see the degradation of other services because of the huge drain on taxpayer dollars that gives very little benefit.

Although interesting that you now seem to be a supporter of the Federal Government and all their decisions. You and Scott Morrison certainly do have a lot in common.

Been said many times before stage 1 at least is basically paying for itself. There has been no massive upfront cost funded directly out of the ACT budget and hence depriving others functions including Action buses. In fact as a result of light rail Action has been able to utilise the assets that were freed up on other services. Whilst many bemoan the new network and consider it to be a loss fact is there are more services operating than before.

Even if it was “paying for itself” which is doubtful, that isn’t actually a good thing as the opportunity costs of that money being spent here is huge. It is most certainly depriving other government functions of much needed funding.

And the first stage has by far the best economic return, future stages will not come close to breaking even, so why on earth would we do it.

Capital Retro9:36 pm 07 Jun 21

Canberra was designed to have private cars as the main method of transport which raises a dilemma for the current government who are trying on one hand to eliminate all cars and on the other hand they are trying to replace ICE powered cars with EVs.

Be they electric or ICE they are still cars.

Walter B-G designed Canberra to have light rail or tram system to suit its expected growth.

Capital Retro9:02 am 08 Jun 21

WBG had planned a few heavy rail lines but the emphasis was on lots of space for private motor vehicles all over Canberra and that gives us something that most other world capitals don’t have.

But it was ok to build it to Gungahlin but not to Woden? It’s only fair that Woden gets it too as the residents there also paid there share for stage 1

That’s not actually how it works. It should be built where it is needed and can deliver results. Gungahlin made sense and proves it’s worth day in day out. Woden not so much, from a need perspective. IMO stage 2 should have been Belconnen to Russell.

As for paying for it think you will find that the vast majority of the cost has and will be paid for by the land sales and extra rates generated by the urban redevelopment along the corridor. I say will be paid as the cost is actually spread over 20 years not an upfront cost. I laugh when people say education, hospitals are suffering as a result when they are no.

Oh and said it many times stage 1 was about urban redevelopment more than public transport as such. Again one measure of why it is a success and why bus could not have delivered the same result. No where in the world has a busway generated the same form of urban renewal but the world over light rail is, does and will do in the future.

Problem here is far too many nay sayers who yearn for the NCDC 1969/1970’s vision of Canberra when reality has overtaken that view which was good for the time but not the 2020’s and beyond.

Rant over.

“It should be built where it is needed and can deliver results.”

JC, I agree. So for Canberra that would be nowhere. Good to see you’re onboard.

“from a need perspective. IMO stage 2 should have been Belconnen to Russell.”

Hmm, except there’s no need for such a route and your own argument actually provides the evidence why it isnt needed.

“As for paying for it think you will find that the vast majority of the cost has and will be paid for by the land sales and extra rates generated by the urban redevelopment along the corridor”

Once again, no such land exists on the Woden leg, nor on your proposes Russell leg. Strange. And the governments own business case shows it doesnt pay gor itself. Also considering that most of the land is not owned by government, the only way your apparent proposal would actually make sense is with a value capture tax, which the government has rejected.

“Oh and said it many times stage 1 was about urban redevelopment more than public transport as such.”

Exactly, so why is everyone else paying for it again. *facepalm*

Problem actually is, too many people think light rail Is trendy and want it delivered despite all the evidence showing it isn’t currently viable for Canberra. Always fun spending other people’s money isn’t it JC?

Need and justified is a matter of opinion not black and white. Your clearly disagree which is fine but so not attempt to twist my words to suit your argument.

My position on light rail has been clear for many many years now.

Capital Retro7:13 pm 06 Jun 21

I found this definition of “urban renewal” on the internet”

“The purpose of urban renewal is to rejuvenate what is considered a run down area. Unfortunately, in the process of trying to expand and update a rundown area, urban renewal can also destroy buildings that have cultural heritage, relocate businesses and people, and tear apart communities”

None of the areas in Canberra that have been/are designated for urban renewal with light rail are “rundown areas”.

And the negative outcomes in the aforementioned interpretation apply to Canberra.

You just be blind if you think the flats that used to lien Northborne Ave had beauty and are of any historical value.

What they are doing now is a far better use of that space and going by what has already been built a lot more attractive than what was there.

No doubt you will disagree.

Except “need” is pretty well defined for this type of project and future stages of light rail wouldn’t meet any sort of infrastructure criteria for the government to be investing in it, not only over other transport projects, but over government projects in any other area. There is no “need” for it and there won’t be for at least a few decades.

Under any legitimate decision framework, it can’t be justified as a government funded project. Its a pure vanity project.

The whole reason objective decision making frameworks are set up in this area is to stop govermments wasting money and pork barrelling on inefficient and unnecessary projects.

It seems that many here want to throw evidence based decision making away simply because they think they like the end result. No doubt those same people will be the first to squeal when the Federal government does the same come election time though.

Capital Retro8:59 am 08 Jun 21

Better to be blind and remember how it was rather than be brainwashed into thinking that what’s there now is better.

michael quirk6:18 pm 04 Jun 21

It is time to put the project on hold and analyze what is the best option for the intertown transport route to Woden. There could be more effective strategy than light rail particularly given changing work and travel patterns . The analysis should include assessment of bus rapid transport, which could deliver similar benefits at far lower cost.Where is the government’s justification for the project?

I think your record is well and truely broken.

How many times do you think this should be done? The light rail has been looked at repeatedly in the time Ive lived in Canberra – since the late 80’s.
Where is YOUR evidence that a rapid bus transportation system would be better in the long term? I know if you look at a 5 year time frame it’s cheaper, but the longer out you go the better the light rail is, the cross over point is about 15 years, after that light rail is cheaper.

michael quirk5:57 pm 05 Jun 21

The government should do the analysis. It was most recently comprehensively analysed by Infrastructure Australia for light rail stage 1 which found bus rapid transport provided similar benefits at half the cost. The ACt Auditor General found LR provided a return of about 5O cents for every dollar spent .
As someone involved in Canberra’s planning and development for over 40 years I am not aware of any analysis demonstrating light rail should be developed Could you provide the references? There are many successful busways as a search of Wikipedia would reveal

No busway anywhere in the world has provided the same level of urban renewal as lightrail (or heavy rail) continually does.

There of of course successful bus ways such as Adelaides but success measured in other ways which are not applicable here.

Also some very selective quoting of reports that support your narrow view, I could probably do the same to suit my view of the world too. But won’t waste my time as it is pointless.

Oh and I am certain the government wouldn’t enter into a contact to build something like stage 1 lightrail without undertaking appropriate due diligence.

michael quirk9:54 am 06 Jun 21

Are you serious? You have a blind faith in the ACT government. Where is the evidence supporting the government ‘s due diligence? Where is the analysis justifying the extension? Is it, trust me I am from the government? The government should be transparent in decision making.

I’d love you to “selectively” quote reports on Light Rail showing it’s viability for Canberra. Please do so.

The problem is, no such reports exist because the government’s own information shows it isn’t viable.

Just admit you don’t care about the actual evidence. Its all about the feels.

Also, your last sentence is quite possible the funniest thing I’ve read on this website.

Chewy not true at all. Simple as that.

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