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Light Rail Stage 2 faces delays after report says National Capital Plan will have to be amended

By Ian Bushnell 23 October 2018 48

The Stage 2 preferred route will require changes to the National Capital Plan and heritage protections. File photo.

The ACT Government will press on with its preferred route for Stage 2 of light rail to Woden although it will mean negotiating changes to the National Capital Plan and delays to the project.

The report into Commonwealth and Parliamentary approvals for ACT light rail by the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories says Stage 2 is only partially consistent with the National Capital Plan, which already provided public transport corridors and serves to protect areas of cultural and heritage significance such as the Parliamentary Triangle.

It has recommended that if the ACT Government insists on its preferred route through Parkes and Barton it must submit to a two-stage process in which it negotiates with the National Capital Authority to amend the National Capital Plan to accommodate the route and then apply to the Commonwealth for approval.

Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris said the report provided clarity for the people of Canberra.

“The Committee clearly outlined a pathway to obtaining approvals for the project. We can now confidently continue the project’s development,” she said.

“The ACT Government will pursue its preferred route for light rail from the City to Woden via City West and Barton.”

Ms Fitzharris said the ACT Government would work with the NCA on any possible changes to the National Capital Plan and continue to finalise a referral under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) in the coming weeks which will commence formal approval for the planned alignment. Committee Chair, Ben Morton said the development of light rail must not come at the cost of the long-term character and heritage of the National Capital.

“We are not seeking to slow or hinder the approvals process, but rather to provide certainty for the ACT Government and the people of Canberra,” he said.

“The Light Rail Stage 2 project passes through and is adjacent to a number of key cultural and heritage sites. Like all projects and proposals in these areas, it must be consistent with the legal requirements imposed by the National Capital Plan.”

Mr Morton said that if the ACT Government were to use the routes provided for in the NCP the project could quickly and easily move forward through the other approval processes.

“‘However, should the ACT Government choose to pursue a route alignment that is only partially consistent with the National Capital Plan, this will unavoidably add further complexity, time, and cost to the project,” he said.

An alternative route would be along Constitution with a lake crossing at Kings Avenue but Ms Fitzharris said the preferred route was designed to provide a north-south light rail backbone for Canberra and would also enhance the public realm through the Parliamentary Triangle, as well as alleviate traffic and parking congestion.

“It will support the revitalisation of suburbs along the corridor, and create more vibrant, community-focused, active and modern precincts. The Barton route also incorporates as many of the key employment hubs and national institutions as possible in the Parliamentary Triangle,” she said.

The committee’s report has also recommended that Parliament require light rail stops, landscaping, and signage to be unobtrusive and complementary to the heritage value and the character of the Central National Area and Parliamentary Zone, as well as an appropriate replanting and landscaping strategy to remedy the removal of any significant trees, such as the Weston plantings.

It details certain areas that should be wire free – Commonwealth Avenue; Kings Avenue; State Circle; Brisbane Avenue; Sydney Avenue; Canberra Avenue (to Manuka Circle); Hobart Avenue; Melbourne Avenue; Adelaide Avenue (to Kent Street); and in the Parliamentary Zone.

Ms Fitzharris said the ACT Government was acutely aware of the national significance of many locations along the City to Woden route, particularly within the Parliamentary Zone.

“A formal assessment under the EPBC Act is a rigorous and well established Commonwealth process to manage heritage significance,” she said.

The ACT Government would consider the recommendations and encouraged the Federal Minister and the Parliament to respond to the Committee’s report in a timely way to ensure the ACT Government could deliver its commitment to the Canberra community.

The Public Transport Association of Canberra welcomed the report, saying it provided much-needed certainty.

Chair Damien Haas said the committee had a number of common-sense recommendations around the design and approvals processes.

“The timely release of the committee’s report means that the ACT Government can get on with the job of delivering the crucial next stage of Canberra’s city-shaping light rail network,” he said.

“Importantly the committee’s report means that the NCA and the ACT Government can resume working on a light rail route through the Parliamentary Zone that can serve the people of Canberra, service national institutions and satisfy heritage concerns.”


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46 Responses to
Light Rail Stage 2 faces delays after report says National Capital Plan will have to be amended
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BlowMeDown 12:06 pm 02 Nov 18

It’s time to move to NSW. Oh, wait, that’s already happening.

The more time I spend out of Canberra the more I ask “why would I want to go back there?”. I’m just sick and tired of being milked to pay for things I’ll never use and make it so much more difficult to use the things I do.

Vivien Muñoz Durret 9:40 pm 24 Oct 18

Well, the majority of the so-called thinking Canberrans voted this inept government in. And it wldn’t surprise me if they did it again.

bj_ACT 5:01 pm 24 Oct 18

I (like most of us here), want an effective and useable public transport system for all Canberrans, I have just never been sure that Light Rail model the ACT Government has adopted is a suitable and cost effective solution for a spread out city with one of the lowest population densities in the world.

Even based on the Governments own ‘cost estimates’ for a City wide system of multiple route Light Rail system through each town centre, seems unaffordable for Canberra.

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.

Like Infrastructure Australia found, the cost benefit ratio is far too low for this kind of Light Rail solution in Canberra. There has to be a better and cheaper way than the current Light Rail solution. These trackless Trams at a tenth of the cost, really interest me as a better alternative.

    BlowMeDown 12:48 pm 02 Nov 18

    I for one never need to travel between town centres. Can’t remember the last time I needed to go to Civic or Woden or Tuggeranong or Weston Creek or Gungahlin or Kingston, but when I did I drove. That’s how it’s supposed to be for most because that’s how Canberra was designed.

    It must be getting increasingly tough for those who actually need to drive anywhere to earn a living.

michael quirk 4:39 pm 24 Oct 18

The ACT government has yet to provide a justification of why light rail should be the technology for the inter-town public transport between Civic and Woden.

Alternatives including a bus way and the trackless tram ( a high capacity electric bus) need to be evaluated. They are more flexible, adaptable and less expensive and like light rail provide urban renewal benefits. Unfortunately the government is unwilling or unable to explain why such alternatives are not being explored. The ACT has many activities that need funding and many have concerns about the level of rates. A responsible government would consider alternatives to the extremely expensive light rail. The aim to reduce car dependency and associated greenhouse emissions could be better served by abandoning LR stage 2 , and using the funds saved to increase the coverage and frequency of the bus network and to influence employment location

Capital Retro 12:43 pm 24 Oct 18

“…..the trams are going where Griffen planned them to go.”

I don’t think so as W B Griffen wanted heavy rail and trams run on light rail.

Anne Berriman 10:55 am 24 Oct 18

Why should Northside get it and not the Southside

Theresa Rowan 7:33 am 24 Oct 18

Why not put in Tuggs to Woden not wasting time....

Woden Valley Community Council 11:31 pm 23 Oct 18

Will the south siders lose their intertown rapid transport service? The Report says that the ACT Government has undertaken extensive traffic modelling so is the forecast demand enough to retain the blue rapid should the light rail with a dogleg be built?

    JC 6:31 am 25 Oct 18

    Belconnen lost their rapid service years ago when the 333 and later 300 series buses went via College Street rather than eastern valley way. The reason it provided a better service to UC, CIT, AIS and the hospital. It is now 10 minutes slower in peak than the 333’s of the early 1990’s. Yet it is still one of the busiest bus routes in Canberra.

    My pint the diversion though the triangle will add a similar time penalty but provide a lot more opportunities for passengers.

    chewy14 1:18 pm 25 Oct 18

    JC,
    You keep repeating this example but it’s not comparable in the slightest.

    The diversion through the parliamentary triangle with light rail increases the travel time significantly, at a far greater cost for zero benefit in opportunity for passengers. It will actively drive people away from using it unless they work in the parliamentary triangle. It ruins the entire future functionality of the light rail network.

    The passengers would have almost identical system functionality through a direct woden-city light rail link with a loop bus servicing the parliamentary triangle. A light rail spur line through the triangle could have been created later when (more likely if) it ever became viable.

    The fact is however, the light rail itself would be unlikely to match the service provided by buses until the population density along Adelaide Avenue is monstrously higher than it is now. It’s not going to be remotely viable for decades. Which is why no business case has been sighted, yet detailed planning is already occurring.

    bj_ACT 4:13 pm 25 Oct 18

    Agree Chewy14 (and we rarely agree) – I don’t see the comparison either. The 333 route change from the old days was pretty slight and it has maybe lost some time around Belconnen, but also made up time with dedicated Bus lanes and zones in the Barry drive area.

    Although I note JC didn’t see an issue for Kambah Park and Ride users who currently have a 1 stop to Woden up the Parkway, now under the Bus proposal to 13 Stops and a Bus change at Cooleman Court, more than doubling the journey time.

    He also reckoned it was only 8 Stops (but that was also wrong when you checked the map) so evidence is not always his thing – either way, any Rapid Transport options that meanders around Suburbs are departing from the optimal design for fast commuting.

    JC 7:49 pm 25 Oct 18

    Pretty slight? Old time was 15 minutes just like existing Woden to City route. New time closer to 25 just like what is being mentioned for the slight detour via Barton.

    And the comparison is it was diverted to go via an area where they thought there was demand at a cost penality of 10 minutes. Same with Woden to the city and there is demand there. Well weekdays anyway but same with the Bruce diversion to Belconnen.

    Oh and that extra 10 minutes for Belconnen 5 of that was the diversion and 5 the extra traffic over the years.

    As for these bus lane works that have made up for it which ones are these? One piddly bit at the lights under Caswell Drive which does nothing much and another near the ANU where any time saving is eaten up by the wait to turn right across all the lanes to divert through the ANU only to get stopped by another set of lights.

    The one bit of bus lane that works is over black mountain that’s been there as long as I can remember.

    And sorry it was 9 stops to Kambah and a faster trip to the city for you as you won’t have to go to Woden and get light rail!

    chewy14 12:11 am 26 Oct 18

    JC,
    You’ve forgot the couple of billion dollars for the light rail for no actual benefit. If your example is correct, you’re actually promoting more flexible bus routes, which I wouldn’t disagree with.

    As for BJ’s Kambah comment, it’s still almost doubling the travel time for most of Kambah to Woden.

    Lucky that they aren’t spending a billion dollars on it, you could almost make an argument that it was sensible on cost grounds.

    Didn’t you say you didn’t support light rail stage 2 though?

    bj_ACT 1:17 pm 26 Oct 18

    You are wrong and just making it up in the fly.

    bj_ACT 10:02 pm 26 Oct 18

    Just for JC’s benefit, I previously provided an image showing all the stops between Kambah Park and Ride and Cooleman Court, before heading off to Woden. He chose to ignore it.

    It currently only takes about 10 minutes to go from Belconnen Dr/Hayden drive intersection to Belco interchange. He needs to pass on to ACT transport the tip on how his old 333 route used to get from this point to the Belconnen interchange quicker than Mark Webber in a Red Bull F1.

chewy14 6:27 pm 23 Oct 18

Still not even the slightest hint of a business case and still pushing the illogical and poorly thought out Barton route.

It’s almost like they don’t want to have to build stage 2 and are looking for ways to can the project.

Oh wait…….

Peter Kelly 11:04 am 23 Oct 18

Never really understood why if we are going down the light rail path we don’t do something useful like Belconnen to Civic via the two hospitals, two universities, CIT and major sporting stadium. Have I got the wrong idea about how to build transport infrastructure

    Roderick Fraser 12:08 pm 23 Oct 18

    I think it is planned and that route you suggest makes great sense.

    At least they could kick that off while arguing with the nca about the woden route.

    Jo Williams Hayes 12:30 pm 23 Oct 18

    Peter Kelly no but we are talking about Canberra, so no need to be going overboard and making movement more easy for kids and pensioners!

    David Malcolm 12:40 pm 23 Oct 18

    Because the labor/green coalition have the belconnen votes tied up.

    Ollie Khong 12:45 pm 23 Oct 18

    It’s because the intention isn’t really about addressing transport. It’s about encouraging developers to move in. Since Belconnen already has that in-spades, there’s no incentive for the government. This is despite it being the most-populous town centre in the most populous district with the highest rates of PT usage...

    Justin Watson 1:24 pm 23 Oct 18

    There are a lot of factors involved and the first stage made the most sense. It was part of a redevelopment of the corridor and it is easier to convince people to live in apartments and use light rail, if the light rail exists, rather than it be a promise. That said there are definitely plans to move the stadium into the city, but light rail past the hospital, CIT and UC still makes sense and will probably occur when they sell the current Stadium to developers. Also extending it out to the airport via Russell makes a lot more sense than the proposed stage 2.

    However, the opposition has done a good job spreading envy and jealousy, rather than come up with real world solutions to problems in Canberra. Thus the government feel they have to extend it south to appease the voters down south first and the Liberals are partly to blame for forcing the government into making a stupid stage 2 decision.

    Ashley Wright 2:13 pm 23 Oct 18

    Justin Watson very true. And if they did that the south side would revolt.

    Rob Thomas 3:34 pm 23 Oct 18

    Innat that stage 3?

    Warwick Penn Bradly 5:44 pm 23 Oct 18

    Justin Watson It's not envy or jealousy, it's aghast at a terrible decision at the worst possible time. With the approach of driverless vehicles, trackless trams etc., an expensive inflexible rail solution will look like lunacy.

    Neil Gavin 8:28 pm 23 Oct 18

    That's too logical for the ACT

    Helen Ollerenshaw 10:51 am 24 Oct 18

    If you want an answer to that question Warwick you will need to speak to Simon Corbell it was his baby...

Janet Ilchef 10:38 am 23 Oct 18

In other words, they went ahead with stage 1 without having planned stage 2. Appalling lack of planning

    Michael Doyle 10:44 am 23 Oct 18

    👍 a textbook lack of planning indeed.😃

    Ashley Wright 11:20 am 23 Oct 18

    Stage 1 was not dependant on stage 2. And unless I am mistaken they are in the planning process for stage 2.

    Appalling lack of understanding of how planning works it would seem.

    Rob Thomas 3:32 pm 23 Oct 18

    Why does no one understand what stages mean?

    Ashley Wright 4:00 pm 23 Oct 18

    Rob Thomas because it doesn’t suit their argument.

    Angela Thomas 5:14 pm 23 Oct 18

    Appalling waste of money and desecration of the environment altogether.

    Warwick Penn Bradly 5:35 pm 23 Oct 18

    Well before Stage 1 was built, those opposed to the tram, pointed out that Stage 2 needed to be catenary overhead wire free and therefore the Stage 1 trams would not be readily compatible. Southsiders also need to know just how much the tram may mess with Commonwealth Ave and Kings Ave traffic flow.

    Janet Ilchef 6:39 pm 23 Oct 18

    Warwick Penn Bradly let alone they’re going to pull down those lovely old trees on the middle of commonwealth avenue 😡 I hate what this crappy government is doing to our city

    Mark Dando 8:57 pm 23 Oct 18

    Stage 1 was always planned as just that - the first stage of a city-wide network. Even though stage 1 was to be fully overhead powered, the government required that all trams could be retrofitted with batteries in the expectation that stage 2 would involve sections of wire-free operation. Seems like good planning to me.

    Amanda Evans 11:08 pm 23 Oct 18

    Does anyone know how big the battery units are to run the wire-less trams?

    Peter Gersbach 11:14 am 24 Oct 18

    Angela, the trams are going where Griffen planned them to go.

    Peter Gersbach 12:46 pm 24 Oct 18

    Amanda Evans This is the Bombardier tram battery page.

    http://primove.bombardier.com/products/battery.html

    Janet Ilchef 3:19 pm 24 Oct 18

    Mark Dando the whole thing is bad planning. Canberra is going to end up as one of the most ugly capital cities in the world

    Julie Macklin 4:39 pm 24 Oct 18

    Peter Gersbach I saw that plan once, and from memory I think it had a tram going along roughly where Kootara Crescent in Narrabundah is. Funny the well used bus 5 was recently removed from that route, leaving those living there without any bus to Woden.

    Mark Dando 10:41 pm 24 Oct 18

    Janet Ilchef beauty and ugliness are of course in the eye of the beholder. You might, but I don't find light rail ugly - on the contrary. Most European cities have light rail and I don't think it detracts from their attractiveness.

    Janet Ilchef 10:59 pm 24 Oct 18

    Mark Dando yes they are. But to me it is desecration and a travesty to bulldoze beautiful green, treed areas and build high rise apartments or light rail where once they were. And some cities, did you know, built light rail, discovered it wasn't the right thing, and have pulled it all up again. If light rail is built properly and to genuinely accommodate a city's needs in a tasteful manner, well and good. But this particular light rail is being built, in my opinion, to appeal to a certain demographic and without proper urban planning. I refer you to the planning that went into Lake Burley Griffin on that front. This light rail is not catering adequately to address citizens needs, and the overall look of the city will be unappealing with it, and not what the planners had in mind. I suspect it is being built to help line the pockets of some, also. I would also point out that we in Australia do not live the same way that those in European cities do, and so we have different needs

    Ashley Wright 6:42 am 25 Oct 18

    Amanda Evans I believe the CAF Urbos like Canberra has requires two supercapacitor units which mount on the roof of the tram. They are about the size of the a/c units and the Urbos is designed such that they can be simply dropped in and some software changes made.

    Also to be clear CAF has two similar but different systems. Supercapacitors that allow a rapid charge at a stop to give enough power to get to the next stop. And batteries which require a longer charge time but can go further. The batteries are better suited to where you have a long run under overhead wires then short wireless operation.

    And btw Newcastle is getting near identical trams from CAF which have the units fitted.

Capital Retro 10:09 am 23 Oct 18

Who cares where it goes. The vanity of our Chief Minister has no limits.

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