28 March 2023

Light Rail Stage 2A Works Approval out for comment: see what's new

| Ian Bushnell
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An artist's impression of the London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue intersection, and the City South stop

An artist’s impression of the London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue intersection, and the City South stop. Photo: ACT Government.

The light rail extension to Commonwealth Park will include a new bridge over Parkes Way, according to the Works Approval now out for consultation.

The bridge, to be built between the two road spans on Commonwealth Avenue, is one of several new details of the project revealed in the planning documents for Light Rail Stage 2A available on the National Capital Authority website.

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Stage 2A is the first step in extending the network south to Woden. It will feature 1.7 kilometres of wire-free track, which will run from the Alinga Street terminus along London Circuit through City West and around the corner onto Commonwealth Avenue.

It will include three new stops at Edinburgh Avenue, City South and Commonwealth Park, and a scissor crossover of tracks to allow light rail vehicles to reverse direction.

The ACT Government has released a fly-through video illustrating what the new light rail stage will look like.

The construction of the new rail bridge over Parkes Way will involve infilling the gap between the two current spans to create a single surface, supported on eight concrete piles and concrete-walled abutments.

New works besides the bridge include landscaping developed with the NCA to retain and strengthen the historic and scenic character of Commonwealth Avenue as a wide tree-lined boulevard consistent with the original designs by the Burley Griffins.

This will include the planting of pin oaks in the Commonwealth Avenue median.

There will also be ‘green tracks’ running along Commonwealth Avenue and Northbourne Place, which involves planting grass or shrubs between and beside the alignment.

Two new signalised intersections on London Circuit at West Row and University Avenue will be built to provide safe and controlled pedestrian and cyclist crossings. In-ground lights in key locations will alert and remind pedestrians to cross light rail tracks safely.

There will be protected cycleways on newly designed intersections at London Circuit and Northbourne Avenue, as well as London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue, and a cobbled median on London Circuit West will differentiate the light rail corridor from the roadway.

The Commonwealth Park stop with grassed sections and trees in the median

End of the line: the Commonwealth Park stop. Note the grassed sections and trees in the median. Photo: ACT Government.

But cycling lobby group Pedal Power ACT has already seen problems with the protected cycle lane stops between University Avenue and Edinburgh Avenue going southwards, and between Edinburgh Avenue and West Row going northwards, which it says will create ‘missing links’ that will stop people from cycling.

It says cyclists will end up riding either on the road or the pedestrian footpath, neither of which are safe outcomes.

Pedal Power ACT executive director Simon Copland urged the government to extend the protected cycle lane to run from the London Circuit and Northbourne Avenue intersection down Northbourne Avenue, around Vernon Circle and to the Commonwealth Bridge.

“This would be an extremely valuable piece of cycling infrastructure that would increase connections to the lake,” he said. “Not having this will create further missing links in our system.”

Temporary roads will be built to keep traffic moving during the construction of the new bridge, and intersection closures will be limited to weekends.

A separate Development Application has also been lodged with the ACT Planning Authority and will soon be available for public comment.

Stage 2A is being jointly funded by the Federal and ACT Governments, and it is hoped that the Albanese Government will also come to the party for the longer and much more complex Stage 2B to Woden.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King has indicated that the Commonwealth will continue to back light rail.

“The Albanese Labor Government is committed to delivering this important piece of job-creating, city-shaping infrastructure for our national capital,” she said in a statement marking the start of consultation on the Works Application.

“We’ll continue to have discussions with the ACT Government about how we can support their infrastructure initiatives, to make sure Canberra stays a well-connected, sustainable and vibrant city into the future.”

A close-up view of the Commonwealth Park light rail stop.

A close-up view of the Commonwealth Park stop. Photo: ACT Government.

Transport Minister Chris Steel said work would start on Stage 2A once the Raising London Circuit project now underway was completed.

That project is expected to take two years.

“With the ACT growing faster than any other jurisdiction in the country it is critical that we build this infrastructure now to meet the needs of our city in the decades ahead,” he said.

“The construction of Light Rail Stage 2A will revitalise the southern section of the CBD and improve connections between the city and the lake for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.

“As we get on with Stage 2A, planning will continue on the future stage to Woden that will link with national institutions, tourist attractions and large employment centres in our city’s south.”

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The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) welcomed the announcement that the Works Approval has finally been released for public consultation.

“After numerous delays resulting from COVID-19 and negotiations with the NCA, it is fantastic to see this city-shaping project reach such an important milestone,” said PTCBR chair Ryan Hemsley.

“The faster Light Rail Stage 2A is approved, the faster we can deliver the benefits of light rail to Woden, Belconnen, Tuggeranong, Molonglo, Fyshwick, the Airport and beyond.”

Mr Hemsley said successive ACT election results and rebounding patronage following the COVID-19 lockdowns showed there was strong community support for light rail.

“Canberrans have consistently shown their support for light rail, both at the ballot box and with their MyWay cards,” he said.

But the future of light rail will again be clouded by another election campaign, with the Canberra Liberals deciding to take an alternative bus-only public transport plan to the 2024 poll.

To learn more about consultation dates and how to make a submission visit the NCA website and the ACT Government’s Light Rail to Woden website.

The consultation closes at COB on 11 May.

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Barry McDonald6:40 am 08 May 23

The light rail is great. I live along the light rail route and have used it since it’s inception. I use it twice a day to get to and from work in Civic and in my whole time using it have only ever paid for a ticket TWICE.
The ticketing system is a total joke – basically an honesty system.
If an inspector looks like he going round checking, I just jump off at the next stop and catch the next one in. I have saved THOUSANDS over the years and I know I am not the only one.
Cheers Labour!

To think you could have just painted a line on the road and had automated buses doing this at a fraction of the cost and with significant more flexibility to redesign as required. Almost as useless as Sydney’s LR system that accommodates the entitled engendered inner city elites.

calyptorhynchus4:51 pm 30 Mar 23

Thing about the light rail I don’t get is why it’s taking so long. It seems to have been building all my life. If this was Germany or somewhere similar the decision would be made and the whole thing would have been built in the year or two. (Wait, how silly, if this was Germany we would already have had a light rail since the 1880s).

GrumpyGrandpa9:02 pm 29 Mar 23

I don’t understand why there are plans to grow grass between the LR tracks? Where I live the ACT Government doesn’t mow the grass very often. Perhaps LR’s carriages will cut the grass, as it drives over it?

HiddenDragon7:18 pm 29 Mar 23

Quite a bit of wriggle room in those lovely, cuddly words from Catherine King which are, of course, really only about Stage 2A –


Hi Ian Ross Bushnell who calls himself Ian Bushnell,
I noticed that in your “Light Rail Stage 2A Works Approval out for comment: see what’s new” you referred to Walter Burley Griffin as Burley Griffin.
A bit like you, Walter always referred to himself by his first name, the only reason that the Burley Griffin thing took off is because Robert Gordon Menzies who referred to himself as Robert Menzies decided that the Canberra lake should be called Lake Burley Griffin.
Just like you, Walter and Robert, I also only use my first name.
Cheers Harry

I noted the “trees and grassed section in the median”, also NO poles or wires, Yeah????

The stop placement is odd. Surely a stop somewhere around the courts, then Edinburgh Avenue and then Commonwealth Park would make sense then the City South stop really in the middle of nowhere (though noting there will be development on the clover leaf – the whole reason for the ridiculous raising of London Circuit). Seems very little value from it running around London Circuit in the current form.

The raising of London Circuit is a requirement (and a very important part) of the CttL project … eventually there will be a large land bridge over Parkes Way (hence CttL … being that Parkes Way has always been an obstacle for those wishing to walk to the Lake, Commonwealth Park, etc from the City).
The new flat level intersection on Commonwealth Ave will allow traffic to go left to the west side of the City, or right to the east side. Therefore directing traffic away form the Comm Av / London Circuit intersection (and the resultant bottle-neck at peak-hour where 5 traffic light changes are required before you get past the intersection).

Not entirely convinced somehow it will solve traffic woes by adding another layer of complexity (The tram) plus further lights, alongside additional sets already added in recent years. We shall see.

Raising London Circuit has precisely zero to do with improving any traffic outcomes, it’s about freeing up land for future development. Which is actually a good thing in its own right but let’s not pretend it will make traffic flow smoother in the city.

thatsnotmyname8:43 am 30 Mar 23

I personally cant wait until they release the land for development. Wouldn’t mind living in that part of the city having access to the lake would great too. (just my personal opinion)

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