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Light Rail too expensive?

By areaman - 24 May 2007 28

The ABC has an article stating that John Hargreaves thinks a light rail system linking all the town centres would cost almost a billion dollars, going on to say that is bigger than the entire health budget.

While I’m yet to be convinced of the affordability of light rail either does he really think we’re that stupid? I don’t think anyone’s claiming an entire network should be built in a single year. By his pricings if was built over say a 10 year period it’d cost 90 million a year less what you’d saving on not having to replace old buses and, you’d hope, higher patronage.

What’s Your opinion?


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28 Responses to
Light Rail too expensive?
MrM 9:17 am 25 May 07

Light rail just doesn’t make sense here – apart from the high cost compared to buses, this city doesn’t have enough of a traffic problem that buses get stuck in traffic jams that would be avoided if they were on rails – and for those odd parts where this may be an issue, a bus lane is a much easier and cheaper solution.

Quite apart from that, if you built a ‘backbone’ light rail network linking town centres, anyone travelling that way would have to swap from a bus to light rail somewhere along the route – not exactly convenient when at the moment you can get on a 3xx bus in a large number of suburbs and go all the way on the same bus.

It just seems simpler and cheaper to me to buy buses – which, on a unit cost, have got to be cheaper than trams – and run them on roads which other vehicles can use as well.

Rawhide Kid No 2 8:53 am 25 May 07

And what happens when the power fails in summer due to lack of water for electric generation? Back to the Buses

poptop 8:51 am 25 May 07

Sadly mass transport sort of supposes mass population to transport and Canberra doesn’t really have enough. So it’s either fund public transport (for all the other good and sufficient reasons) or only provide what the Goverment (and presumably the community) is prepared to pay for.

Pandy 11:14 pm 24 May 07

Pratt does a half pike:

“Further, the Opposition believes that Canberra needs a stabilised and more efficient, attractive and clean mass transport system, along the lines perhaps of a fast electric light rail system. The Opposition is committed to examining such a system for the long term, as part of its integrated city and town planning strategies.”

from the Liberal website

Deano 10:21 pm 24 May 07

Actually a monorail makes a lot of sense. Light rail needs a lot of space for tracks and would need considerable earthworks. A monorail could be installed along the medium strips of our major roads with a lot less effort.

The other consideration is that with any sort of mass transit system, we will still need buses to get from our front door to the station, so buses aren’t going to be completely replaced. And we will still need roads for things like garbage trucks, fire engines, delivery trucks, ambulances etc, so roads won’t disappear either.

Pandy 9:32 pm 24 May 07

we are not springfield Kraemer

Kramer 7:55 pm 24 May 07

I think what we really need is a monorail 😉

Woody Mann-Caruso 7:44 pm 24 May 07

Things like reduced cost of running buses, reduced road maintenance.

Which will be replaced by things like, I dunno, an increased cost of running trains or trams and increased rail maintenance?

I wonder who’s Hargreave’s ‘experts’ are.

Maybe you should give him a call and let him know that you’re an authority on the development of city-wide transit infrastructure, and that you can cost projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars in your head.

Canberra doesn’t need light rail precisely because we have town centres linked by multi-lane, relatively high-speed, relatively congestion-free, high-quality roads. It’s not like dodging through the burbs in Melbourne, or crawling along at 10km/h in Sydney peak hour.

We already have 300-series buses that run between town centres, as frequently as every two minutes in peak times – how would light rail be any better? Want environmental gains? Spend the money on upgrading the Action fleet to CNG instead.

bigred 7:12 pm 24 May 07

So Hargreaves has compared a single year’s recurrent expenditure against what would be a 10 year or longer capital expenditure. And that assumes the Government doesn’t enter into a PPP or BOOT style of arrangement, just as they should have over GDE and should over Majura when they do it.

Of course, he is the Minister for ACTION, and the member for TWU. He knows where his beers come from.

areaman 4:49 pm 24 May 07

You’re right, it doesn’t sound cheap but to claim you have to spend more than you do on health is misleading.

I must say I do agree wiht Al, he is a “vision-free zone”, unless it’s visons of pink elephants after another long “lunch”.

shauno 4:48 pm 24 May 07

Here’s an example of the type of Rail they are referring to

Pandy 4:43 pm 24 May 07

Steve Pratt responded that the Liberals will go to the next election spending at least (his words) a billion dollars to build light rail hopefully with the help of federal funding; “It’s not impossible you know” so Steve said. There was no dismissal from Deb Foskey on this amount.

Light rail costs $15 million to $25 million for tracks and overheads alone: not the farcical $5million that the Conservation Council says.

The light rail feasability study was done in 2004 Thumper. Back then a stand alone light rail system to service Gungahlin was estimated to cost $200 million. You could build it in a year.

The busway to Belconnen was designed to be built to light rail standards what with all the cuttings, tunnels and bridges. So the cost to build the light rail to Belconnen would cost at least what they want to spend on the busway.

LG 4:41 pm 24 May 07

Say goodbye to public transport improvements…

I cannot believe for a second that a light rail between the towncentres would cost a billion dollars… I wonder who’s Hargreave’s ‘experts’ are.

I assume they haven’t considered any benefits of the proposal (social, environmental as well as economical). Things like reduced cost of running buses, reduced road maintenance.

They should start small anyway – a Woden, Civic, Belconnen link. See how that works before looking at extending to Gungahlin and Tuggeranong.

Al 4:35 pm 24 May 07

What we have to concede is that Mr Hargreaves is a “vision-free zone”.
Now he has hold of all of transport, it’s the insatiable monster of cars all the way.

Thumper 4:28 pm 24 May 07

I’m with you on this one Area.

Hargreaves outright dismissal is as regretable as his excuses for not having light rail.

Afterall, if the government can spend millions on a feasibility study for a time travelling busway, they could at least spend some money on a ferasibility study for light rail.

Public transport in this place is a joke, especially after London where millions and millions use trains, buses, and the tube, all on the one ticket everyday.

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