Light rail: Government opts for more direct route to Woden

Ian Bushnell 7 March 2019 62

An artist’s impression of light rail Stage 2 on Commonwealth Avenue.

The ACT Government has all but abandoned its preferred route through Barton for Stage 2 of light rail from Civic to Woden, confirming that a more direct route around State Circle is now the most likely.

Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris also indicated that the 92-year-old Weston plantings of cedars may not need to be sacrificed, with talks continuing with the Commonwealth on whether the track is laid on the median or road on Commonwealth Avenue.

The Minister was reacting to the Federal Government’s response to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories report into Commonwealth and Parliamentary approvals for the proposed Stage 2 of the ACT light rail project.

The Federal Government endorsed the committee’s findings including that a route through the heritage areas of Parkes and Barton would result in a longer approvals process that would add considerably to the cost and delivery time of the project.

But the Federal Government did give the ACT some leeway in the amount of wire-free running required on Commonwealth land, saying its support for the committee’s recommendation would be subject to further information about the viability of a wire-free route.

It also provides some flexibility on environmental and heritage requirements with the caveat ‘without restricting future change’ in its agreement in principle that the landscape setting of the Central National Area be preserved.

Ms Fitzharris said the Commonwealth had given a clear pathway and road map for Stage 2 to Woden, and the Barton route was no longer a viable option.

“So our view now is that we want to get light rail to Woden built,” she said. “We’re looking at a range of options for a more direct route, and we think going around the eastern side of Parliament House on State Circle is the more likely route,” she said.

She said that consultation on the route had shown a preference for the Barton route but that had clearly changed. “We now do view a more direct route as the most likely route to Woden,” the Minister said.

This will be welcome news to the Woden Valley Community Council and some public transport and planning lobbyists who had always argued a direct route would be faster and maintain the integrity of the north-south transport spine.

Ms Fitzharris said the Commonwealth’s response allowed the ACT to continue its planning work and put forward its referral, under the EPBC Act, of environment and heritage matters to the Commonwealth, expected to be ready by the middle of the year.

She said the more direct route might not necessarily be cheaper and the cost would depend on the final route and the Commonwealth approvals processes.

She agreed that the Commonwealth had given some room for movement on wire-free running, given an interest in its technical viability, but the Government had already accepted that it would be a requirement.

“It’s the extent to which it can run, particularly along Adelaide Avenue, that probably will become the main issue,” she said.

“Our current vehicle can undertake wire-free running anyway so we have future-proofed our existing vehicles for that,” Ms Fitzharris said.

“The Commonwealth made clear, which we absolutely agree with, that the amenity and heritage value of the Parliamentary Triangle be retained,” she said.

“And we will make the case to the Commonwealth that not only can we do that, but we can actually enhance the amenity of the Parliamentary Triangle with light rail.”

Ms Fitzharris said that in Stage 1 all of the trees removed had been replaced and more planted, and that approach would continue.

She welcomed the fact that the Commonwealth had responded before the May election and looked forward to immediate discussions with the new Government, which if Labor, might be more sympathetic to the ACT’s light rail plans.

Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Sussan Ley said the Federal Government encouraged the National Capital Authority and the ACT Government to continue working together to ensure that the proposed route for the project is consistent with the National Capital Plan.

Ms Fitzharris continued to refuse to provide a firm starting date for Stage 1, except that it would be some time in April.


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62 Responses to Light rail: Government opts for more direct route to Woden
Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 12:33 pm 09 Mar 19

Protect the old tree next to the Curtin flyover as well.

Krste Saklamaev Krste Saklamaev 6:01 pm 08 Mar 19

What a waste of money

Maelinar Maelinar 2:37 pm 08 Mar 19

I think they should drain the lake and tunnel straight under parliament house, then put up a subway link into parliament and keep going in a straight line until they pop out at Adelaide avenue. Make it waterproof and then refill the lake.

Ultimately cheaper and with probably less approvals since the lake is man made anyway.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 1:59 pm 08 Mar 19

I note some of the complaints about the upcoming Rapid Bus route design and the loss of peak hour Expresso Busses from a fair few suburbs.

Good news is that I think on the whole, Bus transport will improve for many Canberrans and so it should because the ACT Government is spending a lot of extra money on the extra Busses, Drivers, Routes and Services.

Bad news however, and the nub of the issue, while many suburbs are winners, quite a number of Suburbs are clear losers under the changes to the Bus system. We regularly see their complaints on the Riotact and Canberra Times letters and hear their concerns when you sit next to them on the Bus.

There are a number of Suburbs that will be BIG LOSERS across the new 2019 network. Suburbs like Kambah are losing an entire Bus route and a number of entire streets and stops will no longer be on the bus network (as well as all Busses being re-routed via Cooleman Court instead of directly to Woden). Nicholls loses some direct routes to places people want to go and Narrabundah continues to be hit by a number of cuts that effect many residents. The outer western edges of Gungahlin will be particularly poorly serviced and outer suburbs of Tuggeranong will remain as bad off as usual.

Andrea Lloyd Andrea Lloyd 1:21 pm 08 Mar 19

Maybe Constitution Ave to Russell, then Kings Ave to State Circle might be a good idea to benefit most people!

2902 2902 11:43 am 08 Mar 19

Monica Lindemann, all the 300 series buses that run from Civic to Woden go to Tuggeranong interchange already, why would you need more?

Reprobate Reprobate 9:56 am 08 Mar 19

We are now in the realms of utter madness. Another $1BN – maybe $1.5BN given bridge engineering- based on stage 1 to almost exactly duplicate the existing 300 series bus which remains faster, can seat more commuters, and is more flexible (no change of mode at Woden for southlanders). Oh, and the unnecessary removal of mature trees…

All for the sake of a Labor-Greens sweetheart deal to keep each other in power, and to line the green areas of Adelaide Ave with more blocks of flats. It makes me sick.

Peter Tilbrook Peter Tilbrook 8:19 am 08 Mar 19

“Our current vehicle can undertake wire-free running anyway so we have future-proofed our existing vehicles for that,” Ms Fitzharris said.

Then why is Stage 1 wired if they can be wire free???

    chewy14 chewy14 12:13 pm 08 Mar 19

    Because going wire free costs more money.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:19 am 09 Mar 19

    They can’t use the heating and cooling if they have batteries and the batteries clap-out after a few years – cost an arm and a leg to replace. Value for money is the last consideration for these idiots.

Lyndon Zoukowski Lyndon Zoukowski 6:57 am 08 Mar 19

more direct makes sense

Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 6:31 am 08 Mar 19

Would seem fairly basic to have a plan formulated and approved by now for stage 2. poor planning by those associated with the light rail.

Raffy Sgroi Raffy Sgroi 12:11 am 08 Mar 19

Back in 1912 Walter Burley Griffin included plans for a light rail network through the capital.

Canberra such a progressive city opt on an old mode of transport when something new is just about to happen.Now the rest of the world, Sydney and Perth included, are looking towards other technologies that come in at a fraction of the cost, Trackless trams which run on virtual rail lines have been tested overseas.

Meanwhile in ACT you see tram tracks!

    Tim Cole Tim Cole 12:16 am 08 Mar 19

    I'll have whatever you're having.

    NSW has just deployed identical model trams but with wire free operation in Newcastle. Similar operation is planned for the new eastern suburbs light rail.

    Planning is advanced for the Parramatta light rail network.

    The Gold Coast light rail has carried over 8 million passengers and is ahead of forecasts. Two further extensions have commenced planning and will make use of the same rolling stock.

    Raffy Sgroi Raffy Sgroi 3:16 pm 09 Mar 19

    Arnold Ivan

    I think you don’t have any idea!

    Raffy Sgroi Raffy Sgroi 3:20 pm 09 Mar 19

    Arnold Ivan also Europe already has electric trams with not tracks!

Shayne Borger Shayne Borger 11:09 pm 07 Mar 19

Ideally Trammy Mctramface should have been airport to city hill stage 1. Stage 2 city central terminus & Gungahlin to Woden. Stage 3 Belconnen to City and Gungahlin loop. Stage 4 Woden to Lanyon via Tuggeranong Stage 5 Woden to Belconnen via Molongolo.

Rail spines with buses providing feeder services to the rail spine. Too logical for this bunch of muppets. No long term infrastructure program by any government to meet future need

    Shayne Borger Shayne Borger 8:38 am 08 Mar 19

    Kerry Dent the clowns 🤡 got control of the circus 🎪🤣

    Arnold Ivan Arnold Ivan 7:05 pm 09 Mar 19

    That's cheaper way:

Monica Lindemann Monica Lindemann 9:47 pm 07 Mar 19

Woden to Tuggeranong would seem more useful. Civic to woden is well served by buses

    Vic Franklin Vic Franklin 11:00 pm 07 Mar 19

    What's a 'Tuggeranong'? *note heavy sarcasm from southside resident

    Tim Hough Tim Hough 12:57 am 08 Mar 19

    If you want a Woden/Tuggeranong line, there should really be a Civic/Woden line first...

    Vic Franklin Vic Franklin 6:42 am 08 Mar 19

    Scott Abela think you missed my sarcasm, but I appreciate your incorporation of crappy infrastructure into the description of the forgotten land of Tuggers...

    Vic Franklin Vic Franklin 6:44 am 08 Mar 19

    Tim Hough flying tram between town centres? 🤔

    Christian Alex Zappa Christian Alex Zappa 7:46 am 08 Mar 19

    So build another command centre and stable for the trams? You know that why the first stage cost so much?, because they had to build those things.

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 9:41 pm 07 Mar 19

why did they not get approval before starting to build the Tram?

    Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 10:56 pm 07 Mar 19

    Oscar may be, did they do one?

    Tim Cole Tim Cole 12:18 am 08 Mar 19

    They haven't started building stage 2. NCA approval was granted for the Northbourne Ave component of stage 1.

    Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 9:21 am 08 Mar 19

    So you apply for each sage one at a time? That would be rather stupid.

Brendon Mulloy Brendon Mulloy 9:08 pm 07 Mar 19

So they're going underground at City Hill and popping up again somewhere on Adelaide Ave? Excellent.

I might make an offer on a TBM I know is for sale. One owner...

    Tim Cole Tim Cole 12:23 am 08 Mar 19

    Lol no. The route will apparently go onto the western side of London Circuit and then back on to Commonwealth Ave just south of City Hill.

Tim Hough Tim Hough 8:41 pm 07 Mar 19

Civic to the Airport makes the most sense surely?

Andrew Connelly Andrew Connelly 7:38 pm 07 Mar 19

The ACT government's net debt has risen more than $100 million in just six months in 2019 , with the government drawing on borrowings to fund some $86 million in new spending pledges over the next four years.

At $10 Billion dollars for the full city wide system as they propose, it would mean it costs the ACT Government and its Taxpayers $1.3 million dollars a day, for every single day in the life of the Light Rail system.

    Andrew Connelly Andrew Connelly 9:10 pm 07 Mar 19

    Julie Donda Section 5 - 5.1 Cost Estimate.

Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 7:20 pm 07 Mar 19

I hoped they would have gone on to Tuggeranong while Ankatell St is all dug up.

    Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 9:02 am 08 Mar 19

    Daniel Königs Don't get your hopes up... The Civic Kippax line is way down the list.

Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 7:18 pm 07 Mar 19

A lot of money could be saved by using open balast track excepting on road crossings of course or even single track with passing loops controlled by Forest City colour light staff.

    Tim Cole Tim Cole 12:25 am 08 Mar 19

    Tramcar Trevor I don't agree with the single track option, but I have also wondered why open ballast track hasn't been used. It would have offered substantial savings and would allow for slightly less road noise from the trams.

    Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 9:15 am 08 Mar 19

    Tim Cole I did suggest that most strongly eay way back when public submissions were called. The reason for the 780mm thick concrete base is that some geologist told them it was reactive clay. I argued that open ballast over reactive clay would work just fine as it does for heavy rail. What we have now is equivalent to a 12km M4 footing... Open ballast would have saved them at least 70% of the track laying costs. Honestly the project has been so poorly managed I'm actually expecting the Woden extension to be laid in 3'6" to save money...

Alby James Alby James 7:03 pm 07 Mar 19

Can please wait and see if the current tram works first? I mean we all saw what happened in Springfield

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