Raising London Circuit shouldn’t be assessed on its own, says council

Ian Bushnell 2 January 2022 168
Light rail.

An artist’s impression of the intersection of London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue on the light rail Stage 2A route to Commonwealth Park. Image: ACT Government.

The raising of London Circuit and the loss of the clover leaf southern gateway to Civic will increase travel times, result in reduced urban amenity and facilitate an inferior public transport option, according to a submission to the National Capital Authority consultation on the ACT Government proposal.

The Inner South Canberra Community Council questions most of the proposal’s assumptions and says it is part of a piecemeal approach to the light rail to Woden project.

Its says that if it is to facilitate the light rail stage 2A to Commonwealth Park, then it should be considered in light of the entire Stage 2 project, including across the lake to Woden.

“It is our view that light rail Stage 2A cannot be justified on its own, and statements by the Government (and the Auditor-General) appear to support that view,” the submission says.

“Stage 2A can only be justified if Stage 2B is approved. In the absence of Stage 2B, Stage 2A would be a ‘white elephant’.”

The council says the NCA should delay consideration of the proposal until documentation is available for all of Stage 2.

It says the Auditor-General has found that light rail 2A has very low benefit cost ratio and its calculation, presented in the business case, is dubious, and when the additional cost of raising London Circuit is taken into account ($9 million in 2021-22), the benefit cost ratio is even lower .

“In the light of the Auditor-General’s findings alone, the project cannot be justified and should not be approved,” the submission says.

READ ALSO: Lake seaplane services set for take-off after NCA gives thumbs up

It says the NCA should not consider any part of the light rail project until the Government has responded to the Auditor-General’s report.

The council also says the works application makes a number of unsubstantiated claims about how the project is in line with the National Capital Plan vision, will align the road network with strategic transport and land use planning for the city and improve urban amenity and support the revitalisation of the city precinct.

It says these are just part of the Government’s marketing for the project.

“In our view, removing grade separation between London Circuit and Commonwealth Avenue will significantly reduce urban amenity and impede traffic flows between north and south Canberra,” it says.

“It is very difficult to see how the proposed new intersection with traffic lights will result in improved urban design. What it will do is to impede traffic flow between north and south Canberra.”

Claims that the light rail will future-proof the transport network should be rejected, the council says, pointing to inflexible routes, inability to provide express services, and high track construction costs with significant greenhouse gas emissions.

The council is also concerned that raising London Circuit will have a negative impact on the landscape and vistas that are an essential element of the Griffin design.

It criticises the NCA for its limited scope, saying it to should be taking a much deeper look at the rationale for the project than just the design, quality and traffic modelling.

“This project involves a large investment and would have significant adverse impacts in both the construction and operational phases,” the council says.

“All aspects of the project should therefore be thoroughly examined by the NCA to ensure that the NCA’s legislative responsibility for ensuring Canberra is planned and designed in accordance with its national significance is properly discharged.”

What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
168 Responses to Raising London Circuit shouldn’t be assessed on its own, says council
vyt_vilkaitis vyt_vilkaitis 7:20 am 09 Jan 22

A rail loop from the City to ANU, UC and back to gunners makes the most sense when spending money and looking at road congestion and maximising its use. I agree with the council – look beyond the design and revisit the need to create a 1-way backbone. It so much cheaper to improve the existing express bus network from woden. We can even use the cleared pathways on callum street for buses… so there is still a way forward without losing face.

chewy14 chewy14 1:13 pm 07 Jan 22

The normal apologists are out. Usually the same ones who back the government on anything regardless of the facts.

Personally, I am really looking forward to the government wasting more money on light rail. The only debate is how much they can waste in the shortest amount of time possible. The one to Gungahlin cost a lot but I think they could go bigger.

Unlike some (many?) of the apologists here, I don’t care how much money the government spends if I like something. I suspect that many of the apologists don’t pay tax or at best, rarely. Buses are not good enough for them because they think in their minds it isn’t as cool, progressive or as shiny as the light rail.

They don’t pay tax, and so don’t care how much it costs and how other government services will suffer because of it.

    JC JC 8:30 pm 07 Jan 22

    Making up stories to justify your narrow view in life as per usual.

    By I am one of you apologists and I pay tax. Lots of tax actually, about $45,000 last FY alone. That of course goes to the federal government so not sure what your rant about taxes has to do with anything except reinforce the view you like to whine and have no idea.

    chewy14 chewy14 9:02 am 08 Jan 22

    Perhaps you should have read Maya’s earlier comment first before going on that diatribe….

    The point ———->


Maya123 Maya123 12:04 am 07 Jan 22

The normal whingers are out. Usually the same ones who whing about everything.
I am really looking forward to more light rail. The only debate is the route. The one to Gungahlin is fantastic. Unlike some (many?) of the whingers I have actually used it, even if I don’t live north side.
I suspect that many of the whingers don’t use public transport, or at best, rarely. Buses are only great to them because they think in their minds they can use them to attack the light rail. Otherwise they would likely think of buses as they do light rail; waste of money! They drive, and so can everyone else.

    psycho psycho 2:48 pm 07 Jan 22

    Maya123 cannot see the rationale of those who oppose light rail, due to the blinkers that ensure narrow vision without a wider perspective. I’ve used and love the light rail even though the costs have been so much higher than the benefits. It’s an outdated rigid form of transport that can’t be re-routed as demographics change. Adelaide’s version would have been much better as theirs can travel on roads as well as rails, so is not restricted to a single route. It travels through all sorts of environments including parkland without the costs or the need to remove beautiful trees. It’s a much less expensive option to build and maintain, with many more opportunities to improve transport down the track. It’s faster than our light rail and more flexible, creating better travel from entry point to destination.

    astro2 astro2 6:51 pm 07 Jan 22

    Hi Psycho, don’t know how familiar you are wth Canberra but the routes chosen for Stages 1 to 4 are based on routes that won’t change; for example, Parliament House isn’t going to be moved any time soon, nor is the airport. Interchanges and town centres have been pretty much fixed for decades. These are the types of routes more suited to light rail. Buses are more suited to the changing or winding types of routes and local area services. Both modes of transport have their uses. Adelaide has trains, buses and light rail. When building in the rail routes land has to be cleared, just as it does for roads and highways. This doesn’t change no matter what city you’re travelling in.

    psycho psycho 2:58 pm 08 Jan 22

    You make some good points astro2. My concern as a public transport user is the number of connections required to get from one place to another and the closeness of stops to destinations. Anyone who does not live on the tram line spends an inordinate amount of time between different forms of transport, often juggling shopping, children or luggage in all sorts of weather. If the ACT government put the transport user’s perspective central, they might provide better connections and thus better transport for all Canberrans.

    We need good east-west transport options to the north-south spine but this seems to be ignored. We could also have night routes on circuits between various night-spots and entertainment options to prevent drunk / drugged driving, fights to get taxis and ubers etc. Public transport is a service to enable movement, work, education, health and commerce for all residents. In most cities it is not expected to pay for itself with fares as the benefits flow to all businesses, organisations and communities.

    astro2 astro2 8:17 pm 08 Jan 22

    I understand your concern here. Good connections between main lines and other local area services is very important as is connections between east/west and north/south. However that situation exists with the current express service connections to local area services (and has existed for many years) so, whilst it is important to consider any future improvements to connections, it isn’t a problem exclusive to a light rail system as such.
    Regarding your query about night services, there have been various trials over the years of night services between central precinct areas and suburbs. Again, that isn’t a problem exclusive to a light rail network.

    JC JC 8:15 pm 07 Jan 22

    Adelaide’s light rail uses rails. Maybe you are thinking of their O-Bahn. Which was a good idea but does suffer immensely from being far too propitiatory and now being an almost orphan system. The problem with that is when the original Mercedes’ buses (which were high floor as was the norm at the time) Adelaide had a lot of trouble finding replacement buses. Mercedes’ (and MAN) who were the pioneers abandoned the technology so Adelaide has to spend heaps and reuse old parts to get replacement (Scania’s) working.

    There are other guided busway systems that are not proprietary but Adelaide paid the price by being a trail blazer in the technology.

    Sydney has a similar issue with their new light rail which uses a propitiatory ground power system for the Town hall to circular Quay section of the new line. It means only Alstom who own the technology can supply vehicles.

    That said the supposed inflexibility of fixed rails can also be a benefit too when used as a trunk route. Which is how it is being used in Canberra on Stage 1 and planned for stage 2.

    Maya123 Maya123 9:16 pm 07 Jan 22

    One of the advantages of rail is the inflexibility. Unlike bus routes, which can easily be taken away, it’s hard to remove a rail route. That gives people confidence that if they buy a home near to a rail route, they are unlikely to lose it, as happened to my bus route, which was taken away.
    For many light rail haters, who maybe don’t use public transport, this is of no concern to them.

    psycho psycho 3:21 pm 08 Jan 22

    Good point, as long as you can afford to buy on the light rail route. Everyone else is left behind as bus routes are deleted to support tram use. Those most harmed are older or less mobile people who’ve bought their homes on a bus route and then lost their bus. Transition plans to ensure all can use public transport would be good, instead of just focussing on the young fit majority. Isn’t Canberra supposed to be ‘inclusive’?

trelevn trelevn 4:12 pm 05 Jan 22

The roundabout tram is the bus-route disaster made permanent in cement and steel.
Every ride comes with a free tour of 5 suburbs you weren’t interested in.

Mike Lee Mike Lee 3:05 pm 05 Jan 22

the bus trip from city to woden is already very fast. i fail to see how a tram would be any faster

    Linda Woods Linda Woods 10:13 pm 06 Jan 22

    Mike Lee why does it need to be faster? It will take triple the passengers and is better for the environment

Kelly Head Kelly Head 9:49 pm 04 Jan 22

if the results of the tram in the North are anything to go by it will slow traffic even further with the many extra traffic lights that will go in and none of those lights will be synced to any others to let the traffic flow. They will chop down any and all trees without a second thought and then plant some shitty looking grass along the tram line which they will then not look after resulting in a beautiful display of weeds all along the line. At least the trams themselves area a sympathetic shade of red......

    Linda Woods Linda Woods 10:14 pm 06 Jan 22

    Kelly Head its definitely not slowed traffic. The light rail is fantastic, its sped up the commute. Ive lived on northbourne and flemington for 10 years

    Kelly Head Kelly Head 8:03 pm 07 Jan 22

    hmmm, it's slowed my drive home considerably, maybe it depends on the route you need to take?

John Evans John Evans 8:35 am 04 Jan 22

This government told us that the toy-train was faster than buses. So why didn't this government show us an analysis of the travel-time data of buses versus the toy-train (something that would be extremeely easy for a half-competent data analyst)? Because they know it would show they were wrong and buses are faster.

    Jimmy J LaRue Jimmy J LaRue 12:07 pm 04 Jan 22

    The toy train from Gungahlin to civic takes at least 15 minutes of the most direct bus route we used to have with the stops all down Northbourne the same. I would suggest you could find that out if you caught it.

    John Evans John Evans 12:21 pm 04 Jan 22

    Jimmy J LaRue Yet the system of hubs and spokes that was in-place prior to the destruction of the bus-network done to make the toy-train look good was far better.

    Meanwhie - if the toy-train is so good then why doesn't this ACT government publish figures? Oh yes - because it isn't good.

    Jimmy J LaRue Jimmy J LaRue 12:33 pm 04 Jan 22

    John Evans still sounding like someone who hasn’t had to commute from Gungahlin to the city on either buses or toy trains. Particularly in the late evening.

    Been a fantastic bonus for my family and I and saved us a fortune in taxis, Ubers or waiting for long winding bus rides home

    John Evans John Evans 12:59 pm 04 Jan 22

    Jimmy J LaRue still sounding like an appologist for this useless ACT Labor/Greens government - one that has been in-power for 20 years and all serveries continue to deteriorate whilst costing ever more in rates/taxes.

    Intereistingly - you try and avoid the proof that would silence dissenters for-ever if they were wrong - "what are the figures". That this ACT Labor/Greens (that even the previous Labor leader Jon Stanhope criticises loudly and widely) won't provide easily-generated evidence either-way, is clear evidence to most that the situation is worse with the toy-train.

    John Evans John Evans 1:06 pm 04 Jan 22

    Jimmy J LaRue The only reason that Labor/Greens remains in-power is that the majority of voters don't live in the real world (they are mostly public servants).

    Jimmy J LaRue Jimmy J LaRue 1:16 pm 04 Jan 22

    John Evans But John, all the really successful people in Canberra are the contractors making 150p/h + because the Liberal Feds like putting the Commonwealth into competition with itself for resources. FYI - that's 300K a year on a 12 month contract.

    I would love to hear how this light rail project is being built by public servants as well. Or perhaps a long term infrastructure program creates too many "real world" jobs?

    John Evans John Evans 1:31 pm 04 Jan 22

    Jimmy J LaRue The contractors are still essentially employees of the APS - and many were in the APS. As such - your differentiation between the APS and contractors is irrelevant to this argument.

    As to "a long term infrastructure program" - maybe you would care to tell us just how many Canberra contractors actually got a look-in with the Toy-Train Stage 1. By far the majority was built by suppliers not based in the ACT (and the majority of suppliers (in dollar terms) are not even in Australia). The ACT government's requiring of workers to be union-members contributed to that (as well as a massive price-penalty for the ACT rate-payer.

    Jimmy J LaRue Jimmy J LaRue 1:39 pm 04 Jan 22

    John Evans you bought up public servants. You are wrong - contractors are employed by agencies and then paid by your tax dollars 2-3 times what APS staff would be paid if the liberal government raised staffing caps.

    As to job creation on the rail - I just lazily googled - https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6005334/jobs-created-on-canberras-light-rail-exceeded-expectations/

    Also stage 1 came in 32 million under budget. 🤷🏻‍♂️

    Linda Woods Linda Woods 10:15 pm 06 Jan 22

    Jimmy J LaRue the light rail is faster, more energy efficient and smoother travel. Its brilliant

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:53 pm 06 Jan 22

    John Evans Do you ever use public transport, and if so, how often?

    John Evans John Evans 7:17 am 07 Jan 22

    Linda Woods Based on what figures? Are you taking into account the up-front carbon-intensive expenditures?

    If it is faster - why isn't the ACT government releasing the figures to prove this (including to the Federal government to get stage 2B approved)?

    John Evans John Evans 7:19 am 07 Jan 22

    Julie Macklin How is frequencey of personall use of relevant here? I am after the best service plausibly available - and the Toy-Train fails on all counts.

    Linda Woods Linda Woods 9:06 am 07 Jan 22

    John Evans whats the real world? Im a public servant working in a detention cemtre, are our emergency services in the real world? Nurses, bus drivers, teachers, police, rangers etc.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:56 am 07 Jan 22

    John Evans Thought so. You don't use public transport (or as good as never) and likely don't ever want to use it, so no one should have it. I suspect it's the same for many anti light-rail people. That's gets to the basis of why you are anti. An expert in something they never use. You are the "toy", not the light rail here. If you don't want to use it, no one else should either.

    John Evans John Evans 12:19 pm 07 Jan 22

    Julie Macklin When/where have I said there shouldn't be public transport? Come on - tell me when. Provide an example. You can't can you. You are deliberately misrepresenting my words.

    I have asked for comparison to be provided of bus travel-times versus toy-train travel-times. How is that trying to shut-down the public transport system? Explain to us just how you get your claim that I am saying "no one should have it" is justified.

    Well, Julie, I fully support public transport. I just want a system that works as well as possible whilst not destroying our territory's economy - and the toy-train goes against both of those goals.

Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 8:02 am 04 Jan 22


Steve Aust Steve Aust 10:29 pm 03 Jan 22

Cannot understand why the tram route is going around London Crt. anyway. Just go straight ahead from Northbourne to Commonwealth Ave bridge. What the heck is so important to go around London Crt? The law courts? Police station?

    Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 8:06 am 04 Jan 22

    Steve Aust If it has to happen this would make more sense. They are a bit skittish over trees after they took out all the Northbourne Ave trees.

    Peter Bucke Peter Bucke 7:45 pm 04 Jan 22

    Steve Aust because our gov wants more high rise apartments on that route !

    David Stern David Stern 8:35 am 05 Jan 22

    Steve Aust yeah they should put a tunnel through capital Hill. It would be a very short tunnel so I'd guess would cost less.

Charles Landwehr Charles Landwehr 10:26 pm 03 Jan 22

If ever a TBM was needed in Canberra.

David Jenkins David Jenkins 8:35 pm 03 Jan 22

It’s Back to the Future, and 1966 all over again 🤦‍♂️

J D J D 8:28 pm 03 Jan 22

IF it is true that the Federals do require Light Rail carriages to traverse the Parliamentary zone without any overhead powerlines, then all this Stage 2A seems a Folly to me.
Before the carriages can go further South from beside Regatta Point, they will need to be battery propelled. (Not to mention those new Commonwealth Bridge issues.)
So that will need new Trams without overhead pantographs.
Perhaps Sydney will need for our slightly second-hand one-owner Spanish.red-rattler Light Rail railstock ?? Ours have no structural cracking, as yet.

    JC JC 10:58 pm 04 Jan 22

    Ah you are a bit behind the times. The NCA does require no overhead wires and this has been known about even when stage 1 was being built. Even to the extent that the vehicles you want to give to Sydney are modular and can have either a battery pack or a supercapacitor pack simply dropped in. So do t worry too much.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:14 pm 05 Jan 22

    It’s ironic that the “off the shelf” CAF trams that Sydney bought were ones from a cancelled order because the regional government involved (in Spain) abandonded the expansion of an existing LR project that was a failure. Yes, despite all the hype and spin about trams they still can be a dud deal.

    I am not including a link because if I do the expert in all matters will accuse me of “cherry picking” so do your own searching.

    chewy14 chewy14 8:14 am 06 Jan 22

    I don’t known who this expert on all matters you talk about is, but you should provide links to your information if it’s pertinent to the debate and your points.

    The fact that most of the links you do post are from obscure, biased and selectively chosen sources is where the issue is. But no one can confirm that unless you post them.

    JC JC 8:38 am 06 Jan 22

    Actually you are cherry pricking, or more to the point not understanding what you are reading and joining dots that don’t exist to make you incorrect argument.

    When the inner west extension was built Sydney ordered brand new Urbos 3, the ones they have now. The original plan was for the 7 then existing Variotrams plus a top up of Urbos3. The Urbos3’s were ordered late so Sydney leased Urbos2 trams from Spain in the short term. These were as you point out from an extension that didn’t go ahead due to the GFC, I assume you have heard of that and understand the impact that had on Spain in particular?

    Once the Urbos 3 arrived the decision was made to scrap the Variotrams rather than refurbish them so a top up order of Urbos3’s were placed and the Urbos2 returned to Spain where they have found a home in Saville.

    But like I said you are never too concerned with details or facts just cherry picking bits here and there to support your narrow view on life.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:40 pm 06 Jan 22

    Thanks for confirming the fate of the Velez-Malaga council’s, in Spain’s south, light rail venture which was proof that some tram networks actually fail.

    The rest of your post has no interest to me as it isn’t about what I posted.

    You love chicken entrails don’t you, chewy?

    JC JC 8:37 am 07 Jan 22

    It wasn’t a failed system. It was a local government who ran out of money due to the GFC and political point scoring like what goes on here. Now times are better they are talking about reactivating and extending the line.

    As for the rest of my post not being of interest to you is that because I countered your false claim about the Sydney trams with some facts? As usual you just like to cherry pick what ever suits your narrow view on life.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:18 am 07 Jan 22

    What were the “false claims”?

    JC JC 2:36 pm 07 Jan 22

    False claim? Well for a start your claim Sydney brought trams from a failed system and that’s the cause of Sydney’s problem.

    When as I pointed out they leased them (short term since returned) and the ones they have issues with are ones they brought outright.

Joe McDowell Joe McDowell 7:22 pm 03 Jan 22

Scrap it end of argument

kenbehrens kenbehrens 6:49 pm 03 Jan 22

Talk about putting the cart in front of the horse.
Anyone who has been to Woden lately will see that the Government has been cutting down trees, ripping up roads, laying underground drainage etc for the new Bus/LR Interchange and Bus Layover areas. It’s a construction nightmare with sections of Callum Street permanently closed.
If LR doesn’t get over the lake, it’s going to stupid having a LR station for a train that never arrives.

Colin Trinder Colin Trinder 4:53 pm 03 Jan 22

Bore a tunnel under City hill and the lake to Parliament house and emerge on Adelaide avenue past the lodge and be done with it. Might as well have a sensible big vision for 22nd century investment in future city infrastructure.

bigred bigred 4:08 pm 03 Jan 22

Well let us start with asking how you know you are accurately representing the community view on this project?

Nick Swain Nick Swain 4:01 pm 03 Jan 22

The Inner South Community Council represents far more people than the major political parties have financial members.

    Ray Louis Ray Louis 10:41 am 04 Jan 22

    How relevant are they really? And how many people do they actually represent? I’ve lived Southside over 20 years and I rarely hear about them and have never heard about elections, public meetings or any form of public consultation – and I am very active in the local community.

Leon Arundell Leon Arundell 3:37 pm 03 Jan 22

Over the next five years, the ACT Government plans to commit an extra $10,000 per Canberra household to transport projects.

$10,000 per household will enable the government to replace all fossil-fuelled buses between Woden and Civic with zero-emissions buses, that will make the trip in fifteen to twenty minutes.

It will also enable the government to extend the Adelaide Avenue transit lanes, to further reduce travel times, traffic congestion and transport emissions.

The remaining funds can provide every Canberra household with a $9,000 subsidy towards purchases of public transport tickets, electric cars, and electric or non-electric bicycles that are equipped to carry groceries, to travel at night, and to travel on wet roads.

Alternatively the entire $10,000 could be used to replace all fossil-fueled buses between Woden and Civic with zero-emissions trams, that would take twenty-five to thirty minutes to make the trip.

Paul Mathews Paul Mathews 3:08 pm 03 Jan 22

simply not needed. more $$$ spent, and still Govt cant do anything about quality of life, like BARKING DOGS eh Chris

    Joshua Gavern Joshua Gavern 8:42 pm 03 Jan 22

    Paul Mathews you can buy some ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones. Or want that subsidised?

    Paul Mathews Paul Mathews 9:09 am 04 Jan 22

    great idea, then I cant hear the fne ring or the doorbell while working at home. Why u so ready to blame victims eh?

    Tom J. Rosser Tom J. Rosser 7:26 pm 04 Jan 22

    Nicholas Westerburg spare a thought for this battler

Stan Gerebtzoff Stan Gerebtzoff 2:28 pm 03 Jan 22

Leave London Crct alone - simply lower the rest of Canberra

    Martin Ross Martin Ross 9:29 pm 03 Jan 22

    Stan Gerebtzoff the gov have done that enough already

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Region Group Pty Ltd

Search across the site