19 August 2022

Light rail for Queanbeyan? A lot of you are already on board (but don't hold your breath)

| James Coleman
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Sandford Street light rail stop

Sandford Street light rail stop in Canberra. Photo: John Mikita.

A light-rail line between Canberra and Queanbeyan could be on the cards as residents call for better connections between the two CBDs.

Community feedback on the Queanbeyan Region Integrated Transport Plan is in and second from the top in the report’s list of design considerations is “the potential to start planning for the future integration of Queanbeyan’s transport network with Canberra’s light rail”.

Over four weeks between February and March this year, Transport for NSW invited comments from the community on a 10-year plan to improve the border town’s capacity for getting around.

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The focus was on active travel – such as walking, cycling and running – as well as public transport, road transport, freight connectivity, parking and public spaces across Queanbeyan.

“Key constraints and issues experienced when travelling in and around Queanbeyan include on-street parking, traffic queuing, delays in peak periods, public transport availability and the future transport needs of the community,” the report read.

Extending Canberra’s light rail into Queanbeyan emerged as one solution in both the online survey and social media campaign components of the consultation.

Queanbeyan Q-City Transit

The Queanbeyan bus interchange on Morisset Street. Photo: QPRC.

“The need for improved infrastructure investments was reported with some commuters suggesting the linkage between Canberra’s light rail network and Queanbeyan’s transport system to support anticipated future population growth.”

The population of the Queanbeyan-Palerang region has increased by more than 11,000 people between 2015 and 2020, so it’s now comparable to one of Canberra’s regions. The neighbouring towns of Jerrabomberra and Googong have also grown significantly in that time.

Not only is there a lack of local public transport, but it’s also serviced by a different provider – Transport for NSW – so connections to Canberra’s services remain disjointed. Both use different payment methods and timetables, so most commuters opt for the car.

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The ACT Government has a master plan for rolling out light rail across Canberra, with the immediate priority being to establish a north-south line from Gungahlin to Woden. This is the spine from which further extensions east to west will be made.

ACT Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel told Region he met with NSW Minister for Infrastructure Rob Stokes earlier in the year to discuss Canberra’s light rail, including “future opportunities for cross-border connections to Queanbeyan”.

“The suggestion of a connection to Queanbeyan, particularly along Canberra Avenue, is consistent with our light rail master plan and it fits with our multi-decade vision of establishing a mass-transit system as our city and our region grows.”

Render of Monaro Street, Queanbeyan

Queanbeyan’s main road, Monaro Street, is set to be upgraded to make it more pedestrian friendly. Photo: QPRC.

According to the report, first and foremost in the list of Queanbeyan priorities was “the need to improve the reliability, efficiency and frequency of the Queanbeyan public transport system”.

This includes more frequent services around town, more covered bus stops, and an upgrade to the bus interchange on Morisset Street.

When asked if they had any other comments regarding the transport network within Queanbeyan, up to 38 per cent of respondents opted for improving public transport, 13 per cent for improving active travel options, but only 8 per cent for integrating a tramline.

“We also received feedback requesting the need for frequent rapid bus routes from Queanbeyan to Canberra City and create better connectivity between Googong and Jerrabomberra to Canberra that do not travel via the Queanbeyan CBD.”

Transport for NSW will use the community feedback to inform the next stage.

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The word I was looking for is interoperability. Queanbeyana and Canberra are basically one continuous urban area so there needs to be seamlessness in transport, especailly public transport. At least the heavy rail gauge does not change on the border. How about a better train service between Queanbeyan and Canberra using the existing track?

HiddenDragon7:17 pm 20 Aug 22

“Not only is there a lack of local public transport, but it’s also serviced by a different provider – Transport for NSW – so connections to Canberra’s services remain disjointed. Both use different payment methods and timetables, so most commuters opt for the car.”

Building an over-priced, under-utilised tramline would not magically solve these problems – which could have been dealt with decades ago if hidebound officials and politicians had the will to do so.

A Canberra-Queanbeyan tramline would also, no doubt, be used as a pretext to cut existing Queanbeyan bus services using the same “hub and spoke” piffle argument that was run in Canberra – but a strip of “Manhattan-style apartments” (i.e. dismal jerry-built dog-boxes) along the eastern end of Canberra Avenue would do wonders for the “vibrancy” of the area, so all aboard and “toot, toot!”.

ChrisinTurner4:33 pm 20 Aug 22

Why would Queanbeyan seek slower public transport to Canberra i.e. a tram?

Whitepointer4:29 pm 20 Aug 22

Do they have electricity in Queanbeyan?

Well I suspect the first thing Quangers will need is a Labour Government, who rely on the greens to rule, and your on your way to a big shinny rail machine thing.

There is already a rail link from Queanbeyan to Canberra, running parallel with Canberra Av, with stops at Henderson St and Burke Cres, and operating on the same gauge as the tram. They even have trains running along it.

Capital Retro12:14 pm 20 Aug 22

Commonsense and obvious, beneficial solutions are not applicable to discussion of the rail line between Kingston and Queanbeyan (and on to Bungendore and Goulburn).

The problem is that the light rail/ tram in Canberra is about urban renewal while in NSW it’s about public transport and that’s the way it will stay forever.

Would need to be modified to link up with stage 2 Light Rail and have the overhead wiring installed….on the existing rail line but it would be a worthwhile project.

Needs overhead wiring and associated infrastructure, plus a plan for connection to the proposed stage 2 Light Rail.

Capital Retro4:03 pm 20 Aug 22

It wouldn’t need catenaries. The batteries would get it to and from Kingston and Queanbeyan with a re-charge at each end.

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