Light rail Stage 2 split in two in bid for faster approval

Ian Bushnell 5 July 2019 90

A render of Commonwealth Avenue North and light rail. The section north of the lake will be built as a stage in itself.

Light rail Stage 2 to Woden will be split into two sections with separate approval processes, in a bid to fast-track the up to $1.6 billion project that faces major engineering, environmental and heritage hurdles.

The ACT Government says that today it will lodge two referrals to the Commonwealth under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act for Stage 2A from Alinga Street to Commonwealth Park and Stage 2B from Commonwealth Park across Lake Burley Griffin to Woden via State Circle East.

Transport Minister Chris Steel said Stage 2B was a much more complex section than 2A, involving the lake crossing and extensive heritage issues through the Parliamentary Zone, and would likely need more time to be approved than the first leg.

He said the Government hoped that the relatively simpler first section, comprising three stations – Civic West, West Basin and Commonwealth Park, would allow for a faster approval and earlier construction start, possibly next year, so it at least could be up and running by 2023.

“We are aiming to ensure that complexities in the Commonwealth Park to Woden alignment can be worked through properly with the Commonwealth but without holding up work on the extension of light rail between the City and Commonwealth Park,” Mr Steel said.

Issues under the EPBC Act were expected to be limited for 2A and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) might not be required, although there were some biodiversity concerns around the golden sun moth, an endangered species. A works approval application will need to go to the National Capital Authority.

The hope was still that there would be passengers riding the entire length of the line by 2025.

Mr Steel said that 2B would require an EIS from the ACT and he expected the same from the Commonwealth, both of which would be open to public consultation before a formal works approval application was submitted to the NCA. It will also require approval from the Federal Parliament.

He said that completing the first leg would provide significant benefits by itself but the Government remained committed to the full extension to Woden.

The main issues from the Commonwealth’s point of view will be Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, the Weston tree plantings on Commonwealth Avenue and the vistas from Parliament House.

Mr Steel said the Government was not expecting any major changes to the suggested stop locations, which had come about from earlier consultation on the route.

The Government believes the Civic West stop on London Circuit near the ANU will be the most popular in the first section, with West Basin on Commonwealth Avenue serving proposed new developments there and Commonwealth Park, again on Commonwealth Avenue, being advantageous for major cultural events taking place in that area.

Stage 2B will have nine stops in Parkes, Barton, Forrest, Deakin, Curtin, Phillip and the Woden Town Centre.

A render of the Woden Interchange light rail station in Callum Street.

The stops in the Parliamentary Zone will service the cultural institutions, public service departments and Parliament House with one stop also a short walk to Manuka Oval.

“We want to work constructively with the Commonwealth to work through these processes going forward and this certainly allows us to get started on Stage 1 in a much more timely way,” Mr Steel said.

He said the ACT would welcome a Commonwealth contribution for Stage 2 as occurred in Stage 1, and would continue to engage with the Morrison Government but the Territory was committed to going it alone if need be to Woden.

As in Stage 1, the business case will be looking at the urban renewal opportunities and potential land uses but Mr Steel said it was a very different route with development restraints along the way, and that most of the new development was expected to be in the city and town centre.

When complete, the Government will need to procure extra vehicles and have the existing fleet retrofitted for wire-free running on national land.

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90 Responses to Light rail Stage 2 split in two in bid for faster approval
gooterz gooterz 9:21 pm 27 Jul 19

We have light rail because the buses we got recently have terriblr suspensions. The old buses were better.

Its almost like they are bad on purpose.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:30 am 27 Jul 19

“Meanwhile back at the cash strapped hospital sick Canberrans continue to suffer but at least they can ride on a shiny new tram (if they happen to survive)”

But they can’t get to any ACT hospital now or in the future on that shiny new tram.

Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 10:02 pm 26 Jul 19

The planning for stage 2 should have been completed before stage 1 even began. I can’t see this ending well for taxpayers and residents.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:38 am 14 Jul 19

“Am I going to pay for it when I don’t get to use it?????? (kambah)”

Good question and it has a precedent as when the ACT government-financed TransACT Communications started rolling out the internet to Canberra suburbs with poles in their backyards only, the rest of us with underground power connections (no poles) could not get any service from TransACT.

Several people petitioned the the ACT Treasurer (Ted Quinlan I think it was) about the unfairness of ratepayers in pole-less suburbs subsidising a service they were denied that was benefiting only those in suburbs with poles.

This forced TransACT to extend their services across Canberra via Telstra/Telecom underground copper wire connections which were available to everyone.

Maybe time for the 80% of Canberrans funding but not receiving access to the not-needed tram to start another petition?

    astro2 astro2 7:27 am 27 Jul 19

    Yes, perhaps those Kambah residents should also start a petition for all the roads, street lighting and parks in Gungahlin that they are paying for but don’t get to use too. And then the Gungahlin residents could start a petition on repairs and upgrades to parks, roads etc in southern suburbs that they don’t get to use.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:28 am 27 Jul 19

    Come on astroboy, you can do better than that.

    astro2 astro2 6:59 pm 27 Jul 19

    Some people need a gentle reminder of how rates and taxes work.

    chewy14 chewy14 9:35 am 28 Jul 19

    Yes perhaps they do.

    That rates and taxes are meant to be used to provide essential services to residents.

    The problem you’ve got is that you think the light rail was essential public transport when the government’s own business case showed that the majority of benefit was in land development and that the smaller public transport benefit could have been provided through a dedicated busway at a fraction of the price.

    You’re trying to compare apples with gold plated oranges and claiming they’re the same.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:40 am 28 Jul 19

    Astro is still in denial that Transport Canberra’s Duncan Edghill said at a national light rail conference in 2017 “Light rail in Canberra is not about public transport; it’s about urban regeneration”.

    astro2 astro2 1:26 pm 28 Jul 19

    Urban regeneration includes a good transport system. Not just a few buses trundling around. Duncan Edgehill is right. It’s called ‘context’.

    astro2 astro2 11:56 am 28 Jul 19

    Hi Chewy, actually, I don’t have a problem at all. The essential nature of a multi-modal transport system for a growing national capital is supported by all major parties so they don’t appear to agree with the anti-light railers view of what Canberra will look like in the future and feeble attempts to justify their nostalgia with their own versions of economics. (Hint: The future Canberra won’t look like the 1970’s)

    chewy14 chewy14 3:53 pm 28 Jul 19

    “Multi modal transport system” someone has been reading the cliffs notes again.

    The fact that you think a political party supporting a project as evidence of its viability is laughable in itself, but the fact that anybody might support different transport modes (I do also) doesn’t actually mean any individual project is a goer.

    And I’m not the one inventing my own economics, it’s the supporters or this project that clearly don’t understand infrastructure planning and investment decisions if they think it’s a good idea.

    You know who does understand these things really well?

    Infrastructure Australia.

    The body that rejected the project for any federal funding due to the woeful cost benefit ratio which wasn’t even close to being enough to be added to the national priority list, nor did the project have any prospect of garnering investment in it from other parties.

    But keep ignoring the facts because they don’t agree with your ideology. That will always result in a better outcome.

    We will all continue to pay (and pay) for this gold plated largesse.

    astro2 astro2 4:58 pm 28 Jul 19

    No someone has just been observing what is happening in all other states and territories (excluding NT which just relies on buses.) Infrastructure Australia doesn’t fund only those projects deemed to have your type of benefit-cost ratio; there are a complex set of criteria involved with funding projects. So, in a nutshell. just because the ACT government didn’t get IA funding for light rail, it doesn’t therefore follow that the project itself isn’t worth funding.. Perhaps look over the types of transport systems used in other capital cities to provide some guidance as to what is needed to provide an adequate system. And < than 1% of the ACT budget for light rail won't be inducing an apocalypse any time soon.

    chewy14 chewy14 11:10 pm 28 Jul 19

    “No someone has just been observing what is happening in all other states and territories (excluding NT which just relies on buses.)”

    And? If someone in Sydney jumps off a cliff, would you do it too? What happens elsewhere doesn’t make local projects more viable.

    Light Rail for Bungendore? I mean others are doing it.

    “Infrastructure Australia doesn’t fund only those projects deemed to have your type of benefit-cost ratio; there are a complex set of criteria involved with funding projects”

    Perhaps you can tell us about them?
    C’mon, I’m dying to be “educated” on how they assess projects.

    But apparently even with that “complex” criteria, they still found no love for Canberra light rail.

    awww. Sad face.

    “And < than 1% of the ACT budget for light rail won't be inducing an apocalypse any time soon."

    1% of our entire budget that must fund all essential services such as hospitals, schools etc. for a project that provides a public transport option to less than 10% of the city on one lone route. A huge impost weighing around our necks for years to come.

    And that cost is just for stage 1. Stage 2 would be hugely more expensive again for even less benefit.

    As I've said previously, logic and evidence doesn't really come into this decision.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:26 am 14 Jul 19

The cash strapped SA Government has shelved promised plans for city loop and North Adelaide tram extensions for at least three years.

I note Mr Barr is travelling offshore to raise “cheaper money” for ACT infrastructure expenditure. I would advise a lot of caution in this proposal as non-Australian dollar loans can turn into tragedies such as I witnessed in the 1980s when I was a multi-currency loan manager for a European based bank in Australia.

Darryl Parker Darryl Parker 10:00 am 12 Jul 19

Meanwhile back at the cash strapped hospital sick Canberrans continue to suffer but at least they can ride on a shiny new tram (if they happen to survive)

gazmos gazmos 10:00 am 07 Jul 19

The key to a solution is strategic innovation. Light rail is old technology. It is being replaced by trackless trams at 10% of the cost per km. No changes to the bridges will be required as the tram would share one of the existing lanes. No approvals will be required as they use existing infrastructure and stops. If you don’t believe me read what the Property Council of Australia published

    JC JC 6:11 pm 07 Jul 19

    Zero point having a trackless tram if you don’t have dedicated lanes and dedicated stations.

    So in fact there are infrastructure costs.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:28 am 14 Jul 19

    A tramless track would be better than a trackless tram.

Alex SmilyLex Alex SmilyLex 11:40 pm 06 Jul 19

Am I going to pay for it when I don't get to use it?????? (kambah)

    Kieran Vassallo Kieran Vassallo 8:40 am 07 Jul 19

    Alex SmilyLex absolutely, but don't worry, your existing public transport services will also be cut to pay for it...

Aindreas MacCaibe Aindreas MacCaibe 5:54 pm 06 Jul 19

It is a very good idea! By splitting up the build stages it makes it easier to continue construction pace and ensure that the project rolls out on time.

I am surprised that they haven't split the project into 3 sections, 2A as is, 2B around the Commonwealth/Parliament area and 2C Hopetown Circuit to Woden.

Parts 2A and 2C could be constructed at the same time and that would allow part 2B to have any issues to be dealt with and the majority of the project can be completed while those issues could be dealt with as the project rolls out.

nothappyjan nothappyjan 10:32 am 06 Jul 19

Guessing promises have already been made to the developers of west basin for a shiney tram to transport the masses of ghetto dwellers who prefer to wait 15 minutes for a tram instead of walking 10 minutes in to the city centre. All those wasteful trees and car parks around the lake are just using up valuable (~10% pa) rates notices for future slums.

maxblues maxblues 5:00 am 06 Jul 19

Great news!…..for all the people who sleep out in Commonwealth Park.

Minna Singh Minna Singh 1:39 am 06 Jul 19

great news

Ian Ian 11:29 pm 05 Jul 19

I can’t help but think the question of how to cross the lake was kind of a threshhold question that should have been answered before even stage 1 was built. What happens if agreement is never reached? Half a network? 2 half networks?

Ray Weedon Ray Weedon 7:52 pm 05 Jul 19

Anything that makes sent these days won't happen.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 5:27 pm 05 Jul 19

Well what a surprise that this gets wheeled out at the end of a week in which there has been some inconvenient news about the ACT schools system (violence) and the prison (over-crowding).

As to the practicalities, aside from getting over the Lake, and getting around the Parliamentary Triangle, there’s also the question of how people will get to and from the proposed stops show in the route map. Will there be traffic lights on Yarra Glen and Adelaide Avenue? Will there be overhead footbridges (great for people with mobility issues) or pedestrian tunnels (ditto re mobility, and a happy hunting ground for muggers)?

Heavs Heavs 4:02 pm 05 Jul 19

It would be funny if the hypothetical ginninderra balance of power independent had to eat a bag when they did run the line into belconnen but refused to take it to kippax.

Craig Dingwall Craig Dingwall 2:45 pm 05 Jul 19

Shuttle bus across the bridge?

astro2 astro2 12:24 pm 05 Jul 19

This stage of the southbound route will at least open up the City West and New Acton sides of the city. Anything that lessens motor vehicle traffic and dirty emissions (which have ruined the old 1920’s building that are close by) is a win for Canberra.

watto23 watto23 11:55 am 05 Jul 19

This should not be stage 2. As a Tuggeranong resident, this is stage 2 because the politicians play the politics of envy game. Reality is stage 2 should be Belconnen to the airport or at the very least just extend to the airport.

    JC JC 5:00 pm 05 Jul 19

    Pollies bow to voters who play the envy game.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 10:28 am 06 Jul 19

    I’m a Woden resident but lifelong Tuggeranong resident up until a few years ago.

    Even I think the Woden rail line isn’t the right solution for the area.

    Some dedicated road sections for public transport and emergency vehicles in Woden and Tuggeranong would ensure a Rapid Bus service provides a better and more cost effective solution for the south.

Warwick Bradly Warwick Bradly 11:46 am 05 Jul 19

And what advantage does this $1.6bn spend over the existing rapid bus??

    Michael Harper Michael Harper 3:54 pm 05 Jul 19

    Excuse to raise the rates again? Not that they seem to need one.

    Warwick Bradly Warwick Bradly 5:04 pm 05 Jul 19

    Michael Harper Also a way to get from Woden to Civic more slowly than a bus, while increasing car congestion.

    Robert Azzopardi Robert Azzopardi 5:22 pm 05 Jul 19

    A rapid bus holds 60 passengers .. an LRV holds 200 plus passengers.

    Warwick Bradly Warwick Bradly 5:52 pm 05 Jul 19

    Robert Azzopardi 3 buses don't cost $1.6billion. 200 plus passengers, most standing. That's a shitty form of transport. Canberra can do better than that.

    Scott Coulson Scott Coulson 9:24 am 06 Jul 19

    Robert Azzopardi flawed logic. The current flow of busses can more than handle demand. A vehicle that loads to well under capacity is just inefficient. Or are you saying that a 200 capacity vehicle will just leave half hourly rather than a 60 capacity vehicle leaving every 10 minutes.

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