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Only one real option for City to Woden light rail route

By Charlotte Harper - 2 May 2017 35

Proposals for Stage 2 of light rail.

The ACT Government has released two options for the planned light rail link between Civic and Woden for consultation, but only one of them seems likely to be a serious contender.

The major distinction between the two options is whether the network stops outside the public entrance of Parliament House or winds through Parkes and Barton before turning onto Adelaide Avenue.

See full map here.

There are two other choices to be made: whether it should travel around London Circuit on the eastern or western side of City Hill before crossing the lake, and whether to continue on from Woden to the Canberra Hospital.

But are these really choices, or have they only been offered up to make Canberrans feel as though they’re having a say?

Surely there’s only one sensible option here: to travel west from Alinga Street, servicing the ANU, the legal precinct and New Acton and leaving the western side of London Circuit for a later stage heading to the Canberra Airport, then heading over Commonwealth Avenue Bridge (whether on existing infrastructure or an additional central lane) and on to collect and deliver passengers visiting national institutions in Parkes then those living and working in the high density Federal Government office and residential precinct of Barton before joining Adelaide Avenue and travelling through to Woden and onwards to the Hospital.

Another benefit of the Barton option is that it passes through the intersection of Adelaide Avenue and Canberra Avenue, leaving open the possibility of a future stage connecting Manuka, Kingston, Fyshwick and Queanbeyan.

Perhaps the Parliament House option is designed specifically to woo Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, given Federal funding will likely be required to get the project over the line. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr appeared confident yesterday that Mr Turnbull would support the project.

“This prime minister can’t go on a piece of public transport without a taking a selfie so I’m pretty confident that he supports the objective of better public transport in Australian cities,” he told the ABC.

As for whether the network should continue through to the Canberra Hospital, this is another no-brainer. Parking remains a headache at the hospital. A light rail connection would be attractive to the huge staff that work on site as well as to patients and visitors.

Given its position at the intersection of Hindmarsh Drive and Yamba Drive, such a stop would allow for a future extension to Tuggeranong along Yamba Drive, Erindale Drive, Ashley Drive and Isabella Drive … though Tuggeranong residents be warned: Mr Barr made it clear yesterday that the next stage of the light rail network was most likely to be an east-west link on the northern side of the lake, running from Belconnen through the CBD and on to Russell.

What is clear based on these options is that a City to Woden stage of light rail would service the the West Basin waterfront/Commonwealth Park, the Deakin shops area, the Deakin West area and Yarralumla near its shops, the Curtin shops area and the Phillip Oval precinct near Launceston Street as well as Woden itself.

The ACT Government has invited Canberrans to have their say on the proposals via an online survey, by providing video feedback or by commenting on an interactive map (see below). There are also 14 public consultation sessions to be held across Canberra this month, starting with tomorrow night’s Woden Community Council meeting. Details of all sessions and more information about the options are on the Government’s Your Say site.

Canberrans can provide feedback via an interactive map

What do you think of the options the Government has put forward? Are they actually options, or is the New Acton, Parkes, Barton, Hospital version the only way forward?


Which proposed option for the City to Woden stage of light rail do you prefer?

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35 Responses to
Only one real option for City to Woden light rail route
Damien Haas 12:58 pm 02 May 17

Tim Bohm said :

Once again our government has gone out of their way to avoid our international airport. What did happen to the detailed costings provided for the 2016 “STAGE 2 Russell Extension”, why have they never been made public?

Community consultation around the Light Rail Master Plan identified four routes that were preferred, the government selected the Woden option as stage two and went to an election with that option (the one you ran in, remember?).

The airport light rail only works with connections through Russell and to the BBP. It will be built, it was one of the four preferred options and as future stages are developed it will form one of those.

bringontheevidence 11:35 am 02 May 17

JC said :

bringontheevidence said :

I don’t think the solution for going through the triangle is as cut and dried as you think. In fact I would argue that the alternative route is clearly superior.

Yes the Parkes/Barton option goes closer to many of the Government offices, but for the same reasons the route through the city is best to go to the west because the east will be served by a future Russell/Airport line, you could argue that Parkes/Barton will be better served in the future by a Kingston/Fyshwick/Queanbeyan line.

The major concern I have with the Barton route is that it will add 5-10 minutes to the commute of people coming from Woden to the city, even more compared to the current blue rapid busses that travel the western side of Parliament House. If the intention is to create a ‘trunk’ route that’s expected to serve future branch lines, it would be a disaster to send the tram off on a rambling, slow speed wander through side streets.

I am no fan of the Woden route and one reason is because it cannot replace the blue rapid service. The Woden to city link is an integral part of the Belconnen to Tuggeranong trunk route, just no way is it sensible to change one section to light rail and expect people to change. That said don’t recall any announcements saying it will replace them either.

And as for the route, through Barton is the sensible option but only if it is not a blue rapid replacement service. Though personally I think once it gets to Canberra ave it should turn left and go to Manuka, Kingston and then terminate at the railway station rather than to Woden.

I’m working on the assumption that, long term, the Trams will effectively replace the Rapid bus services, while busses will be retained for rambling suburban transport to maximise coverage.

I agree that in the short term it would be less than ideal to change at Civic if you’re travelling Woden-Belconnen, however long term there would be a lot of benefits in having a direct light rail route. The biggest benefit I can see (an its a big one) is that workers at APH and Barton could finally catch a direct, high frequency service to the city and to the south. At the moment the Blue Rapid doesn’t stop between Albert Hall and Woden, and the vast majority of Barton workers need to go via Russell to get the the city.

Tim Bohm 10:54 am 02 May 17

Once again our government has gone out of their way to avoid our international airport. What did happen to the detailed costings provided for the 2016 “STAGE 2 Russell Extension”, why have they never been made public?

https://the-riotact.com/light-rail-winning-bid-cheaper-faster-and-with-added-trees/162102

JC 10:34 am 02 May 17

chewy14 said :

It’s funny when I read the start of the article and the suggestion that there was only one potential route, I was in full agreement.

Then I read the author’s thoughts and was surprised because I was thinking the exact opposite route.

The whole point of light rail is for it to provide fast and easy public transport along major thoroughfares. If you deviate into the suburbs, it loses functionality which means people are more likely to stay in their cars.

This is why the Parliament house option is clearly superior. You need to take a bigger picture view. The efficiency of the main trunk spine can’t be compromised.

Transport around Barton and inner south could then be serviced by loop buses from the light rail line.

As for the Hospital, this would only be a spur line if it was chosen because the main trunk must continue down Athllon Dr past Mawson to Tuggeranong. In the end, I doubt a light rail line to the Hospital would really alleviate their parking issues all that much.

If you were talking about American light rail which is on the heavier side I would agree with you that it is intended to get people along trunks routes. With big park and rides etc.

But European and Australian light rail is designed to service the corridor which of course means deviating into residential and employment areas.

That of course means in the case of Woden the trunk route needs to the City and beyond needs to remain too.

Mark_Dando 10:20 am 02 May 17

I agree with Charlotte that the Parkes-Barton option is the only sensible route, not the least because of the financial incentive available to the Commonwealth due to its ownership of significant vacant/underused land along the corridor (as I canvassed in another thread: https://the-riotact.com/the-lobby-ideas-for-future-use/200075).

From this light rail sceptic’s perspective, the extension to Woden through the Parliamentary zone and Barton is a game changer. I thought stopping the first stage at what is effectively the northern edge of Canberra’s central activity area was a fatal mistake — requiring people travelling beyond this point to change to buses, and offering tourists all the excitement of a 2 or 3 stop trip along Northborne to and from Canberra’s underwhelming ‘downtown’.

But the extension via Parkes-Barton and on to Woden and the region’s main hospital offers tram access to Canberra’s raison d’être and connects what transport planners call a ‘string of pearls’ — spots of high activity where significant numbers of people are coming and going.

I think this will be very popular initiative and overcome much of the opposition to and scepticism about light rail, including from me. Though I have to declare an interest, as my home will be within 15 minutes walk of a stop.

In response to wildturkeycanoe, I’m not sure why a light rail link to Canberra Hospital would only be of interest to people who work there and live in Deakin, Yarralumla, Curtin or Lyons. Also trams don’t do u-turns, at least not any of those I’ve travelled on in Australia and overseas. They’re double ended and bi-directional.

bringontheevidence says that Parkes and Barton will be better served in the future by a Kingston/Fyshwick/Queanbeyan line. Well, possibly if it’s ever built (and I can’t see the NSW govt let alone the Queanbeyan council or ACT govt funding a 10 km extension to a town of 50-60k people), but with major transport spines the more points of intersection the better. It doesn’t make sense to force people travelling from Woden to Kingston/Fyswick for example to go all the way to Civic first.

shadow boxer 10:20 am 02 May 17

I know its too late but this seems window dressing, if light rail really wanted to scoop up people it would be better off extending the Gungahlin end out through Moncrief and Casey, over to West Belconnen, Dunlop etc before branching and heading to the Belconnen town centre and off through the new suburbs on the way to Weston before turning into Woden.

It just might reach a critical mass of people and actually alleviate some congestion.

chewy14 10:04 am 02 May 17

It’s funny when I read the start of the article and the suggestion that there was only one potential route, I was in full agreement.

Then I read the author’s thoughts and was surprised because I was thinking the exact opposite route.

The whole point of light rail is for it to provide fast and easy public transport along major thoroughfares. If you deviate into the suburbs, it loses functionality which means people are more likely to stay in their cars.

This is why the Parliament house option is clearly superior. You need to take a bigger picture view. The efficiency of the main trunk spine can’t be compromised.

Transport around Barton and inner south could then be serviced by loop buses from the light rail line.

As for the Hospital, this would only be a spur line if it was chosen because the main trunk must continue down Athllon Dr past Mawson to Tuggeranong. In the end, I doubt a light rail line to the Hospital would really alleviate their parking issues all that much.

dungfungus 9:32 am 02 May 17

This latest exercise in faux-consultation reminds me of my younger days when I was focused solely on changing the layout for my Trix toy electric train set which was, by the way, fully funded from pocket money and hard work doing odd-jobs.

Whether to divert it under the bed and behind the dressing table or a high speed run down the middle of the room. I lost a lot of sleep over it.

The only thing my train had in common with our government’s proposal is that neither my toy set or their real train will be carrying any (or very few) passengers.

The differences are that my train set was paid for and being operated by a child; their’s is dependant on more billions of dollars being debited to the taxpayers and it is (apparently) being run by adults.

Garfield 9:15 am 02 May 17

bringontheevidence said :

I don’t think the solution for going through the triangle is as cut and dried as you think. In fact I would argue that the alternative route is clearly superior.

Yes the Parkes/Barton option goes closer to many of the Government offices, but for the same reasons the route through the city is best to go to the west because the east will be served by a future Russell/Airport line, you could argue that Parkes/Barton will be better served in the future by a Kingston/Fyshwick/Queanbeyan line.

The major concern I have with the Barton route is that it will add 5-10 minutes to the commute of people coming from Woden to the city, even more compared to the current blue rapid busses that travel the western side of Parliament House. If the intention is to create a ‘trunk’ route that’s expected to serve future branch lines, it would be a disaster to send the tram off on a rambling, slow speed wander through side streets.

That was my first thought when seeing the 2 options – the more direct route will encourage more light rail commuting from Woden/Tuggeranong to the City in the longer term while the route through Barton would increase use in the shorter term. A key question is whether the rest of the network will end up being constructed? Given that everything seems to be suggesting stage 2 will cost more and deliver less than stage 1, the government may need to opt for the route to boost users in the shorter term to try and justify the costs.

gneruoa 9:03 am 02 May 17

I’m not sure why there is the suggestion that the first route option is ‘via Parliament House’. The proposed route goes via Capital Circle and then onto Adelaide Avenue, the location for the light rail stop seemingly being in the tunnel under Federation Mall, and not at the public entrance to Parliament House as suggested by this article. I really cannot see how a stop could placed on Capital Circle without significant, and unnecessary additional cost.

JC 8:59 am 02 May 17

bringontheevidence said :

I don’t think the solution for going through the triangle is as cut and dried as you think. In fact I would argue that the alternative route is clearly superior.

Yes the Parkes/Barton option goes closer to many of the Government offices, but for the same reasons the route through the city is best to go to the west because the east will be served by a future Russell/Airport line, you could argue that Parkes/Barton will be better served in the future by a Kingston/Fyshwick/Queanbeyan line.

The major concern I have with the Barton route is that it will add 5-10 minutes to the commute of people coming from Woden to the city, even more compared to the current blue rapid busses that travel the western side of Parliament House. If the intention is to create a ‘trunk’ route that’s expected to serve future branch lines, it would be a disaster to send the tram off on a rambling, slow speed wander through side streets.

I am no fan of the Woden route and one reason is because it cannot replace the blue rapid service. The Woden to city link is an integral part of the Belconnen to Tuggeranong trunk route, just no way is it sensible to change one section to light rail and expect people to change. That said don’t recall any announcements saying it will replace them either.

And as for the route, through Barton is the sensible option but only if it is not a blue rapid replacement service. Though personally I think once it gets to Canberra ave it should turn left and go to Manuka, Kingston and then terminate at the railway station rather than to Woden.

JC 8:54 am 02 May 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

I wonder how many people working at the Canberra Hospital actually live in or near the suburbs of Deakin, Yarralumla, Curtin or Lyons? Would it be financially worthwhile making the connection through to the hospital? Also, what happens when the tram gets to the hospital, is there sufficient space to make a U-turn or would the tram simply continue on through Yamba Drive back to the City?
Another consideration is access to the tram from Curtin, which has limited connections with Yarra Glen due to the Yarralumla Creek causeway. Similarly, both Yarralumla and Deakin have few points for pedestrian traffic to reach Adelaide Avenue, so more work will be required to remedy these obstacles. Have they been factored into any of the “estimates” of cost yet?

I don’t think the hospital option is for the workers given the shift work hours most work, rather for patients and visitors.

Also whilst single ended trams need to u-turn the more common type (in western countries) are bidirectional so essentially terminate in a single or double terminus and just turn around. So no extra space required.

bringontheevidence 8:30 am 02 May 17

I don’t think the solution for going through the triangle is as cut and dried as you think. In fact I would argue that the alternative route is clearly superior.

Yes the Parkes/Barton option goes closer to many of the Government offices, but for the same reasons the route through the city is best to go to the west because the east will be served by a future Russell/Airport line, you could argue that Parkes/Barton will be better served in the future by a Kingston/Fyshwick/Queanbeyan line.

The major concern I have with the Barton route is that it will add 5-10 minutes to the commute of people coming from Woden to the city, even more compared to the current blue rapid busses that travel the western side of Parliament House. If the intention is to create a ‘trunk’ route that’s expected to serve future branch lines, it would be a disaster to send the tram off on a rambling, slow speed wander through side streets.

wildturkeycanoe 6:51 am 02 May 17

I wonder how many people working at the Canberra Hospital actually live in or near the suburbs of Deakin, Yarralumla, Curtin or Lyons? Would it be financially worthwhile making the connection through to the hospital? Also, what happens when the tram gets to the hospital, is there sufficient space to make a U-turn or would the tram simply continue on through Yamba Drive back to the City?
Another consideration is access to the tram from Curtin, which has limited connections with Yarra Glen due to the Yarralumla Creek causeway. Similarly, both Yarralumla and Deakin have few points for pedestrian traffic to reach Adelaide Avenue, so more work will be required to remedy these obstacles. Have they been factored into any of the “estimates” of cost yet?

rommeldog56 6:44 am 02 May 17

Not being a Light Rail fan (at least, not as a solution for Canberra), Im ambivalent about the City to Widen route.

However, I’m most interested in how they will cross LBG on Commonwealth Avenue bridge. The article gives that a light touch and offers no view. In terms of vehicle access across that bridge. It is the vital issue.

Anyways, I would have thought that this is the sort of planning that should have been undertaken, put on the table and costed as a budget promise, in the last ACT Legislative Assembly election. As it is, ACT voters have given ACT Labor/Greens a blank cheque to do stage 2.

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