Light rail Stage 2: Government set to dump Barton dog-leg

Ian Bushnell 3 December 2018 43

The Government does not want the Woden leg held up because of Commonwealth approvals hurdles. File photo.

The ACT Government looks set to abandon its preferred route through Barton for Stage 2 of the light rail network to Woden, in order to win Commonwealth approval as soon as possible.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr suggested that the Government would not allow hurdles to be placed in the way of light rail by the Commonwealth to slow or block its progress, and that it was willing to look at a less onerous alternative that would be approved more quickly.

“We won’t allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good when it comes to getting on with the next stage of this important infrastructure project to bring light rail to Woden,” Mr Barr said in a mid-term speech on his Government’s progress at the Ainslie Arts Centre.

He said that in light of the federal parliamentary committee’s recent report outlining the range of criteria the project would need to meet if it deviated through Parkes and Barton, the Government was now looking at the best route alignment to achieve ‘timely approval’ from the Commonwealth.

Mr Barr said the committee had clearly indicated that the ACT should focus on State Circle and that this was the fast track to approval.

“What we’ll focus on once you’re over Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, and then to get around to Sydney Avenue the committee appears to have said continue up Commonwealth Avenue, and go around State Circle and behind Parliament House and then back up on to Adelaide Avenue,” Mr Barr said.

“That’s the identified public transport corridor, that in the end is the path of least resistance in terms of not needing to get changes to the intertown public transport route.”

He said this would shave some minutes off the journey.

The Government would make decision next year but would not go back to the Commonwealth until after the federal election in May.

With the Government already facing delays to Stage 1, with services now not due to start until some time in the first quarter of 2019, and possibly not until April when the new bus network will be launched, Mr Barr said that the Government did not want to wait long for Stage 2 to begin.

“We’re keeping up the momentum because Stage 2 is integral to our vision for a city-wide integrated public transport network,” he said.

The Barton dog-leg, as it has become known, has come under fire from many quarters including the Planning Institute and the Woden Valley Community Council, which prefer a direct route that maintains the integrity of the north-south spine and does not mean longer journeys than what the current Blue Rapid bus service provides.

Going through Barton would add 15-20 minutes to a Woden-City journey.

The Government pushed for the Barton route so as to capture patronage from the public service departments, national institutions and other employment centres in the Parliamentary Triangle.

But the federal parliamentary committee said in October that going though Barton would require changes to the National Capital Plan, heritage conditions and light rail vehicles to be wire-free on national land. This would add cost and complexity to the project, it said.

At the time, Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris said the committee’s report provided a way forward for the ACT Government and that it would press on with the Barton route. Although she did later hint at being more flexible.

But now it appears that a pragmatic Chief Minister is prepared to revisit the route to ensure light rail gets to Woden sooner rather than later.

The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) said the move was disappointing.
PTCBR Chair Damien Haas said the proposal to travel through Barton’s national institutions and workplaces had incredible potential to reduce car dependency, ease parking pressures and provide direct access to many national institutions by tourists and Canberrans working there.

“We agree this is the path of least resistance in attaining Commonwealth approvals for construction to occur, and trust this compromise is matched in spirit with a speedy approvals process to enable a business case to be prepared. We would like to see construction started as soon as possible,” he said.


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43 Responses to Light rail Stage 2: Government set to dump Barton dog-leg
Scott Humphries Scott Humphries 7:36 pm 05 Dec 18

I live in Woden and work in Barton. The bus I use will be cut in April and now it seems I won't be able to use the future light rail either. I do get to contribute to paying for it though.

Krste Saklamaev Krste Saklamaev 9:18 pm 04 Dec 18

Wasted taxpayers money.

Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 9:16 pm 04 Dec 18

But I must ask are these vehicles limited to 70kmh? Even the original Sydney Trams were faster than that... He shot through like a Bondi Tram. Even the old Melbourne trams were governed to 90kmh... It does not make sense to me...

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 9:29 pm 05 Dec 18

    Tramcar Trevor yes. That’s the manufactures top speed.

    The main limitation is how the wheels are arranged.

    Older trams where high floor (and mostly) non articulated. So had bogies under each end.

    Modern articulated low floor trams have smaller wheel sets slung from the tram body and are articulated. The way the suspension works as a result limits the top speed.

    The C class in Melbourne being a good case in point. When used “at speed” on the Port Melbourne line there is a noticeable wobble in the tram body.

    That said a top speed of 70km/h on the routes proposed would make little difference anyway.

    Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 10:37 pm 05 Dec 18

    Ashley Wright the CAF Urbos vehicles use 22" wheels, the same diameter as the old Melbourne W class trams. The same vehicles are on use between Central and Dulwich Hill. The CAF Urbos cars are used in many places at speeds up to 100kmh. So why are they restricted to 70kmh in Canberra.

Jess Aan Jess Aan 7:29 pm 04 Dec 18

It needs to come to Woden and the hospital.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:09 pm 04 Dec 18

“PTCBR Chair Damien Haas said the proposal to travel through Barton’s national institutions and workplaces had incredible potential to reduce car dependency, ease parking pressures and provide direct access to many national institutions by tourists and Canberrans working there.”

This presumably has considerable bearing on the “business case” (ahem) and modelling for this project…… but who cares when it’s essentially a mega-election gimmick for 2020.

Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 4:16 pm 04 Dec 18

I do hope that we're not going to be spending a second billion before we know if the first bit was successful.

Self-driving cars will revolutionise urban transport within a few years.

    Peter Mackay Peter Mackay 9:33 pm 04 Dec 18

    Tristan Corner You haven’t been following the topic, have you?

    Why would anyone buy a self-driving car for themselves? That doesn’t make a real lot of sense.

    Not when there are going to be fleets of them.

    Run the numbers, and imagine that given efficiencies of scale, self-driving cars will cost about the same TCO as a large family sedan, like about $250 a week. Run it 24/7, charge a dollar a ride, and you make 100% profit.

    There are insane amounts of money to be made. That’s what will drive the revolution, not people deciding they want a car that can drive them home from the pub.

    Who is going to go out in the cold and the sun and the rain, wait at bus stops and tram stops, and still have a hike at each end when they can whistle up a robot Uber for a door to door trip that costs a dollar and includes free wi-fi?

bj_ACT bj_ACT 11:15 am 04 Dec 18

For those who say we need to pay for the whole Light Rail across Canberra. Just make sure you are fully across the ongoing costs for this method of transport.

By the ACT Governments own estimates. A 6 stage Canberra network would cost $1.4 million dollars a day in 2017 prices for the life of the system.

That’s a huge cost for Canberrans to pay, especially when experts said dedicated Bus Lanes across Canberra could be built for the price of Stage 1.

Surely people have an understanding that we should implement a financially sustainable public transport system, not one with the lowest ROI ever entered into in Australia.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 2:37 pm 04 Dec 18

    Given the parlous state of the ACT economy (and this doesn’t include the unfunded public service pension liability of about $7 billion) this government should be abandoning all grand visions like stage 2 of the trolley folly and instead, start a period of consolidation although I haven’t heard that word being used for some time so probably, no one knows what it means.

    I doubt if many people read this in the Canberra Times last week but I wish everyone would:

    Jim9 Jim9 9:15 am 06 Dec 18

    Not commenting on the contents of that article linked CR – there is plenty of reasonable comment within it, but I hope the irony is not lost about the role those two gentleman had in creating a substantial part of the problems associated with the ACT Budget as it currently stands…. both were in significant places of power to improve the lot when they were involved and did nothing, yet now see no issue with constantly throwing the boot in…. smells a bit like a whistling kettle and a clanging pot for mine.

    But then its no different to Stanhope constantly whining (of course quite rightly) about the Labor Party having clubs with poker machines. Agree with his premise, but frustrating that only now is it a ‘priority’ for him to comment on, when he had an extended period in power where he could have done something about it…

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:18 pm 08 Dec 18

    You are dead right about your comments on the authors of that article.

    How could we forget the Rhodium Asset debacle which lost undisclosed millions of ratepayers dollars as did their foray into Transact.

    The mother of them all though is that bottomless pit called the arboretum.

    I wonder how much of the unfunded pension money is due to them?

Woden Valley Community Council Woden Valley Community Council 11:48 pm 03 Dec 18

It is great to see the integrity of the inter town public transport back bone maintained. Now lets see stage 2 go to Mawson!

Patrick J Pentony Patrick J Pentony 11:16 pm 03 Dec 18

I think the quicker route is actually better anyway. Should the light rail ever make it to Tuggeranong then those catching from tuggers to city would be quicker

    Woden Valley Woden Valley 12:15 am 04 Dec 18

    Tuggeranong people using public transport to the city will have to use the tram. It is very unlikely the Government will spend $1.6 billion of a tram then run the bus to the city for Tuggeranong customers. It is more likely that you will have to catch the blue rapid to Woden and then change to the tram.

    Tim Cole Tim Cole 1:20 am 04 Dec 18

    Woden Valley and that's the quandry of the situation. With the top speed of the current LRV fleet set to 70km/h, it will most likely end up being a slower journey from Greenway to Woden.

    I don't know if Erindale would be a better consideration or to terminate near Mawson Southlands and integrate with a large bus interchange and a Park & Ride facility.

    A dedicated busway up the Tuggeranong Parkway into the city using the unused carriageway reservation would probably be a quicker solution.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 9:22 pm 05 Dec 18

    Tim Cole the speed difference compared to buses which have a max speed along the same route of 80km/h would be minimal. The only “long” run is abiut 5km on Adelaide Ave between Yarra Glen and The Lodge. Time difference 80 vs 70 a grand 32 seconds. Which could be made up/lost at next set of lights by either mode.

    Elsewhere it is all short sections where the tram would out accelerate the bus so would be on par.

    That said the type of tram we have is not really suited to long non stop runs. They are designed for high capacity stop start not long distance.

    That’s where the Barton dog leg at least made sense. But express down Adelaide Ave not really the right solution.

chewy14 chewy14 9:22 pm 03 Dec 18

“We won’t allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good when it comes to getting on with the next stage of this important infrastructure project to bring light rail to Woden,” Mr Barr said

Haha, the Barton route was clearly inferior from a planning, transport and actual construction standpoint. To suggest it was anywhere near “perfect” is beyond laughable.

How’s that business case coming along Mr Barr?

Yuri Shukost Yuri Shukost 8:31 pm 03 Dec 18

Got to get it done before they're hopefully tossed out of office.

Sun Ripened Tomato Party, where are you when we need a credible alternative?🤔😢

Guy Noble Guy Noble 7:17 pm 03 Dec 18

Whos to say we dont have a tram/train renewable run between all major areas with a mini bus for each suburb running people to the hub.... no need for buses as we have today burning diesal clogging up the rd... as i mentioned we have to start somewhere

    Warwick Bradly Warwick Bradly 8:53 pm 03 Dec 18

    Guy Noble About $7billion plus says we won’t. Buses are moving to electric by the way.

Guy Noble Guy Noble 7:14 pm 03 Dec 18

I seem to be in the minority on the tram issue,,, but i was also on the tuggers express issue. I will never use the tram but i know my grand kids will. I would hate to think what sydney and melb would be like with just busses and cars. We have to start somewhere it wont be popular now as the usual comment is " why shud my tax money go on something i will never use" if we all thought that wed be living in caves

    Warwick Bradly Warwick Bradly 8:55 pm 03 Dec 18

    Guy Noble your grand kids will not be using a tram, you are thinking last century tech. The future is very different with, for example, mid size autonomous buses and autonomous vehicles available at the press of a smartphone button.

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 9:20 pm 03 Dec 18

    Warwick Penn Bradly yeah there are so many things making that not a reality for a long time. The same problem that applies to normal buses applies to autonomous buses and vehicles. Typical of this country is we'll look far into the future to avoid doing anything now, and that future will never come in the lifetime of those making the decisions. Meanwhile, most of the rest of the world are using light rail and fast rail to get people around successfully.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:19 pm 03 Dec 18

    Guy Noble wrote, "I seem to be in the minority on the tram issue" Only here, because the anti-tram people are very vocal and keep repeating it. Surveys show favour to the tram.

    Warwick Bradly Warwick Bradly 9:21 pm 04 Dec 18

    Justin Watson You need to take a deeper look at autonomous vehicles and the future. It's probably much closer than you realise. Light rail has been a success in some cities and an abject failure in many others. Canberra is very likely to be a failure. Patronage of buses has been in year on year decline. A great quote I heard was that Canberrans love public transport, they just don't love it enough to use it!

Roberta Lynne Anning Roberta Lynne Anning 7:12 pm 03 Dec 18

Still a complete waste of money.

    Dan Rayner Dan Rayner 2:05 pm 04 Dec 18

    Roberta Lynne Anning yep, I agree, far better to spend government money on tax-cuts for huge corporations.

    Martin Budden Martin Budden 4:15 pm 04 Dec 18

    How about we don't waste money on trams and we also don't waste money on corporate tax cuts?

    Martin Budden Martin Budden 7:26 pm 04 Dec 18

    Dan Rayner

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 6:28 pm 03 Dec 18

They have committed us all now. No point in only stage 1 being done. At least go all the way to Tuggers and Belco. The bigger question is why did you start with out the ok of the Triangle?

    Janet Ilchef Janet Ilchef 7:21 pm 03 Dec 18

    Daniel Duncan because they don’t know how to plan

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 9:11 pm 03 Dec 18

    It comes down to the federal government. A new federal government will probably change their mind.

    Tim Cole Tim Cole 1:24 am 04 Dec 18

    I'm generally for the light rail, but extending it to Tuggers will end up offering a poorer service.

    East-West connections should be on the agenda, linking Belconnen (or maybe Kippax) to the Airport and/or Fyshwick/QBN.

    Simon Jenkins Simon Jenkins 1:24 pm 04 Dec 18

    I think southsiders would beg to differ, Tim Cole. I think those of us who live on the southside who pay taxes like everyone else, and, like everyone else, have contributed to the construction via our taxes, should also have access to this new network, when it is fully operational.

    Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 5:26 pm 04 Dec 18

    Simon 100% agree with you.

    Simon Jenkins Simon Jenkins 5:21 am 05 Dec 18

    I for one want in on the broader plan they have for us to leave cars at home. Petrol prices, wear and tear on the car and traffic jams due to accidents (of which I was stuck in one on the Parkway yesterday evening for an hour) are all good enough reasons for me to leave my car at home and catch the rail to work.

    I'm hoping they pick a good location or locations for interchanges/stops that work for the broader southside community (and the benefit of us being part of a later stage is they will have data and stats from stages 1 and 2 to Woden to support where the Tuggeranong leg should go).

    But bring it on I say. I'm sick of the Parkway crashes from drivers not leaving enough distance between cars in front of them.

Scott Welsh Scott Welsh 6:26 pm 03 Dec 18

Hmm, looming election, rushed decisions, this all sounds so familiar

Jackie White Jackie White 6:19 pm 03 Dec 18

I like this whole idea, though I am wondering if they shouldn't see how successful Stage 1 is before committing to Stage 2? It's a lot of $$$ and disruption if the service won't be used...

    Tim Cole Tim Cole 1:21 am 04 Dec 18

    But it will be used. There won't be a bus service between Gungahlin & Civic, or anything along Northbourne Ave.

    Everything will be forced onto the light rail and then distributed at the interchanges.

    Jackie White Jackie White 7:02 am 04 Dec 18

    I sure hope so! Personally I'm looking forward to it. I hope it's successful :)

    Suzanne McGhie Suzanne McGhie 11:25 am 04 Dec 18

    Tim Cole yes and have you say on that bus 200. A shocker down Northbourne and always full

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