Light rail Stage 2A to be wire-free as approvals process moves to next phase

Ian Bushnell 18 February 2020 185
Stage 2A light rail

A render shows the wire-free Stage 2A light rail leg at the intersection of the raised London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue. Images: Supplied.

The 1.7 kilometre extension of light rail from Alinga Street to Commonwealth Park via London Circuit will be wire-free, in part to preserve the heritage vistas to the Parliamentary Zone.

The ACT Government has revealed more details about the project as it moves to the next approvals phase, with the Commonwealth deciding that both Stage 2A and Stage 2B across Lake Burley Griffin and on to Woden are controlled actions, as expected.

The confirmation that Stage2A will be wire-free means that new and existing light rail vehicles will need to be fitted with onboard energy storage with regenerative braking capability.

According to the EPBC documents lodged with the Commonwealth last July, a traction power substation, connected to the system at Commonwealth Avenue, will also need to be built in Commonwealth Park.

The ACT Government says grassed tracks are also proposed on the Commonwealth Avenue median.

London Circuit near Edinburgh Avenue

This image shows the tracks in the middle of London Circuit near Edinburgh Avenue.

While there will be extra costs in going wire-free, Transport Minister Chris Steel says an advantage will be that Stage 2A will take up less space as the tracks will be narrower and built in the middle of the road.

“As Light Rail Stage 2A turns on to Commonwealth Avenue, wire-free running will also ensure that the heritage vistas along Commonwealth Avenue are maintained,” he said.

As previously announced, London Circuit will be raised to be level with Commonwealth Avenue.

Mr Steel said the project was progressing as expected to the next stage of the Commonwealth environmental approval process.

To gain approval, the ACT Government will need to provide further information to the Commonwealth, which has determined that Stage 2A can be assessed by “Preliminary Documentation”, an assessment pathway usually reserved for projects where the impacts are localised and easily predicted.

The more complex Stage 2B through the Parliamentary Zone near areas of national and heritage significance will require a full EIS, as expected. It will need to be wire-free through the Parliamentary Zone, which means there will be wire-free running from the city across the lake to Parkes.

“This decision from the Federal Government reinforces our choice to deliver light rail to Woden in two stages. The process of assessment for Stage 2A means we can get on with the job of extending light rail to Woden sooner,” Mr Steel said.

“We always expected that an extensive EIS process would be required for the more complex stage 2B extension through the Parliamentary Triangle under the Commonwealth environmental approval process,” Mr Steel said.

The City South Station

The City South Station, and the beginning of the grassed tracks on Commonwealth Avenue.

He said the Government was investing in infrastructure now to ensure Canberra did not end up congested like Sydney.

“We are getting on with the job of taking light rail to Woden,” he said.

“We want to build on the success of the first stage of light rail, and this is the next step in the process to take those benefits to Woden.”

Last September, Cabinet approved the business case for Stage 2A and started one-on-one negotiations with the operator of Stage 1, Canberra Metro, for it to design and build the project.

The cost of Stage 2A is subject to those negotiations but the overall cost of Stage 2 has been put at $1.6 billion.

Last week, $31.4 million was allocated in the Mid Year Budget Review for Stage 2A design work, and Chief Minister Andrew Barr said contracts would be signed this year, with construction expected to start in 2021 and the first passengers boarding in 2024.

Stage 2A is seen as a springboard for the more challenging Stage 2B across the lake to Woden, and will include three new stations and add an estimated 2500 to 3000 passengers to the system.

City West, on the corner of Edinburgh Avenue and London Circuit near the ANU, is expected to be the most popular station, with City South servicing the new residential areas of West Basin, and the southern terminus important for major events in Commonwealth Park and by the lake.

It will require extra rolling stock and the Government is in talks to acquire four more light rail vehicles.

The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) has welcomed progress on the approvals processes, as well as Federal Government support for the development of advanced battery technologies for light rail vehicles.

PTCBR Chair Ryan Hemsley said the Federal Department of the Environment has mapped a clear path forward for Light Rail Stage 2 by identifying the assessment processes.

“Following the success of Stage 1, we call on the ACT Opposition to outline their plans for bringing light rail to Woden ahead of the Territory Election later this year,” he said

Mr Hemsley also said a recent Commonwealth grant had been awarded to a consortium developing fast charging batteries for light rail vehicles.”

The Federal Department of Industry, Innovation and Science recently announced a grant of $1.6 million to a consortium proposing to develop an ‘Advanced Nano-engineered Battery for Fast Charging Catenary-free Trams’. Total project expenditure is expected to be $5 million and consortium members include the CSIRO.

“This project has the potential to benefit light rail systems across Australia as well as in the ACT by reducing charging times at stops and lowering the lifetime costs of wire-free running,” he said.


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108 Responses to Light rail Stage 2A to be wire-free as approvals process moves to next phase
Keith Prinn Keith Prinn 2:15 pm 21 Feb 20

Queanbeyan needs this more than anything

John Steggall John Steggall 8:40 am 20 Feb 20

More money down the drain. Will there be an auditor general's report on the waste of money to date? What will be the predicted residential rate increases?

Alan Sargeant Alan Sargeant 11:18 am 19 Feb 20

I understand that the return on Stage two is fourty cents in the dollar and that it may be more if and when light rail is extended to Woden. The Government should not be investing in this stage until it has agreement on the whole route. So much money will be wasted!

With decisions like this it does not deserve to be re-elected but the problem is that the alternatives does seem to be awe inspiring either.

    Ross MacPherson Ross MacPherson 1:33 pm 19 Feb 20

    It's not all about dollars and cents or returns, it's about providing a service/facility for residents. Have you ever researched what the return is on other government services? What is the return on garbage collection? Recycling? Roads? Parks/sporting grounds?

    Alan Sargeant Alan Sargeant 11:19 pm 19 Feb 20

    Ross MacPherson There are some government services that have tobe provided - health, schools, garbage collection and so on. If one does an analysis of the different solutions then you can proceed with what is the best solution.

    When it comes to public transport you would expect that there are different solutions to the problem and you should be seeking the outcome that gives the best return on the dollar, accepting that it may be negative - hence the public transport element.

    I understand that the decision for stage 1 (the existing light rail) was only just positive in terms of economic outcomes and that there were better solutions which were not adopted.

    I have not seen the details of other solutions to the perceived problem that the next stage is supposed to solve. So I cannot comment on which is the best solution. Even where the government is recovering only 40% of the cost of the project there must be a better solution.

    By the way I am a retired project economist, specialising in transport projects, both in Australi and overseas.

Peter Palmer Peter Palmer 5:44 am 19 Feb 20

Love the light rail so far, use it often.

Only the federal government stopping 2B.

Tony Tony Tony Tony 6:15 pm 18 Feb 20

Wish we could ,,,, sack the A,C.T polies.. sue them for wasting a billion dollars,,, don't U think the community would have been better off with big new hospital ,,, And better infrastructure within Canberra ,,, that would have created thousands of permanent jobs,,,, the Canberra rate & tax payers will never see any true value nor any true productivity via this Light rail BS,,,,,, light rail in Canberra is apitimy of a true WHITE

ELEPHANT 🤔..

AS GREATA would say ,,, HOW DARE YOU 🙉

    Garry Gordon Garry Gordon 8:08 pm 18 Feb 20

    Tony Tony - you are spot on. In NSW they would sack the Council and put in an administrator. I recall a resident saying in one of those areas that finally things are starting to get sorted under an administrator.

Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 6:09 pm 18 Feb 20

Still nothing on "The Bridge over the River Molonglo"...unless it very secret.

Daniel Bryan Daniel Bryan 2:40 pm 18 Feb 20

Be good if they could get approvals under way for 2B before 2A is finished thus reducing the down time between builds.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 5:51 am 19 Feb 20

    Daniel Bryan that is the whole idea behind splitting stage 2 into two parts.

    Richie Suryadi Richie Suryadi 7:17 pm 21 Feb 20

    Be good if they got the first stage right in the first place

    John Kerry Tozer John Kerry Tozer 8:42 pm 24 Feb 20

    Daniel Bryan - Be REALLY good if they told us how they are going to get across the lake!

Sharvi Tinnlonga Sharvi Tinnlonga 9:39 am 18 Feb 20

I find it pointless to write a comment, they are determined to go across the lake rather than go to the airport and Queanbeyan.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 10:31 am 19 Feb 20

    Sharvi Tinnlonga why would the ACT government even consider QBN?

    Sharvi Tinnlonga Sharvi Tinnlonga 4:47 pm 20 Feb 20

    once it gets to the airport, qbyn people will agitate for it to connect Queanbeyan with the airport and canberra.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 7:19 am 22 Feb 20

    Sharvi Tinnlonga QBN people can agitate all they like, but I am sure the NSW government isn’t going to provide one cent for it and I am even more sure the ACT government won’t either.

    Oh and if you wanted to connect to QBN the better route would be one via Fyshwick and along the existing railway corridor not via the airport.

    And to be honest I’ve always felt stage two should be to Kingston rather than Woden.

    Sharvi Tinnlonga Sharvi Tinnlonga 6:10 pm 24 Feb 20

    I agree that the rail should go to Kingston, and then on to the airport if a suitable route could be found.

    I think the airport would be against a rail line as it would affect their overpriced car parking rates and the taxi industry would be badly affected.

Lorraine Welling Lorraine Welling 7:46 am 18 Feb 20

Canberra can’t afford this at this time, given the massive budget blowout and mismanagement of our money by Barr and Rattenbury. Here in the ACT, this is their record:

Australia’s most expensive education system, yet a lack of support for teachers.

Australia’s most expensive hospitals, yet nurses are at breaking point.

Australia’s most expensive prison, yet very little rehabilitation.

Australia’s most expensive petrol.

Australia’s highest costs for owning and running a car.

Australia’s highest rates of assaults on prison guards.

Australia’s smallest frontline police force.

Australia’s worst rental stress.

We have Australia’s highest rent.

Australia’s highest rate of repeat homelessness.

Australia’s highest gas prices.

Australia’s least affordable housing market for young people.

Australia’s most expensive childcare costs.

Australia’s longest wait for residential aged care.

And, Australia’s worst hospital waiting times.

    Jorge Garcia Jorge Garcia 8:57 am 18 Feb 20

    I dont have a high opinion on this government, but the list of problems you have outlined can/should be addressed without taking a step back on the light rail project which is also sorely needed.

    Garry Gordon Garry Gordon 8:07 pm 18 Feb 20

    Lorraine Welling / and Australia’s worst politicians.

    Peter Palmer Peter Palmer 5:46 am 19 Feb 20

    Lorraine Welling And yet it is still the place we choose to live.

    Lorraine Welling Lorraine Welling 7:01 am 19 Feb 20

    Peter Palmer yes. I love Canberra and politicians come and go - and it high time Barr and Rattenbury went.

    Alan Dalling Alan Dalling 10:01 am 21 Feb 20

    Jorge Garcia no it's not. Stage 2 will nearly double the commuting time between Woden and Civic. Will remove a couple of hundred trees from Commonwealth Ave and Yarra Glen. It will remove the T2 lanes affecting all current users, but particularly emergency vehicles. It is inflexible, not easily adaptable to increasing capacity and requires specialist training for operators. All this for a minimum of $1.6 billion. Total joke. Seriously anybody who thinks this a good idea, or good value needs their head read.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 7:17 am 22 Feb 20

    Alan Dalling where have you seen plans to say the T2 lanes will disappear? Everything I’ve seen shows it using the median strip which is quite wide with those other lanes untouched.

    That said one stretch of the T2 has disappeared in recent months to be turned into a car lane. But guess that doesn’t count because cars are king.

    As for adapting light rail for increasing capacity, yeah, nope that is the very idea behind it especially on stage 1 where Northborne Ave couldn’t be realistically increased in capacity. Guess another 2 lanes could be Adelaide Ave to increase capacity if required but only as far as Parl house where it becomes a bottle neck of two lanes with little room to expand.

    Tamsin Walkden Tamsin Walkden 2:04 pm 22 Feb 20

    Lorraine Welling Well said.

Emilia Franklin Emilia Franklin 7:34 am 18 Feb 20

We live in Gleneagles and pay good tax for it but we haven't a bus stop

Emilia Franklin Emilia Franklin 7:31 am 18 Feb 20

And negotiate with Sydney about Canberra - Qbeyan

Emilia Franklin Emilia Franklin 7:30 am 18 Feb 20

We need one to the airport

    John Harding John Harding 10:44 am 25 Feb 20

    A billion dollar train line was built from Sydney airport to the city. It is great and I have used it several times flying to Sydney for business meetings in the city. However, it made massive losses (in the hundreds of millions). A light rail line to the airport would be even more uneconomic.

    Emilia Franklin Emilia Franklin 10:51 am 25 Feb 20

    Well it is the beggining..but rail or bus to the Airport of Canberra it's necessary

    Emilia Franklin Emilia Franklin 10:56 am 25 Feb 20

    If not, a fast train...Sydney- Canberra through Golbun..Wollongong Qbeyan Canberra ..Woga Woga, Alburry. Melbourne?

    Emilia Franklin Emilia Franklin 10:56 am 25 Feb 20

    With more stops that I don' t see now

    Bill Arthur Bill Arthur 3:49 pm 25 Feb 20

    Emilia Franklin It is Wagga Wagga and Albury

Emilia Franklin Emilia Franklin 7:30 am 18 Feb 20

We are paying the taxes and none of the benefits in South Point..and Tuggeranong Vale

Emilia Franklin Emilia Franklin 7:29 am 18 Feb 20

Please South Point!!!

Emilia Franklin Emilia Franklin 7:28 am 18 Feb 20

Dunkan..we need urgently a light rail to the airport

Duncan Woodhouse Duncan Woodhouse 10:19 pm 17 Feb 20

Would it actually be more cost effective, on a per kilometre basis, to get this thing from the city across the lake in one fell swoop? Mind you, as a resident of the Lanyon valley, the tram is just a curious novelty to gaze at on my occasional foray into the city!

Lewy Affleck Lewy Affleck 10:05 pm 17 Feb 20

Omg those lights will be so annoying, that section gets heavy with traffic, plus a tram, plus London circuit wtf

Monica Tiffen Monica Tiffen 9:53 pm 17 Feb 20

By the time Woden gets it I may have gone to the Great Library and Art Studio in the Sky!!!!!!

Claire Sadler Claire Sadler 8:58 pm 17 Feb 20

Fixed route driverless buses are already operating in other countries. Surely they would,cost a lot less.

Linda Seaniger Linda Seaniger 8:52 pm 17 Feb 20

How much will it cost cost for 1.7 klms? $$$$$$$$$$$

    John Hynes John Hynes 7:50 am 18 Feb 20

    Linda Seaniger dont ask, no one knows, but it will be so worth it.

    Linda Seaniger Linda Seaniger 9:30 am 18 Feb 20

    Dedicated bus lanes do the same at a fraction of the price.

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