18 October 2023

Single missed Major Projects Canberra goal doesn't mean southside light rail has gone off track

| Claire Fenwicke
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artist's impression of the Woden CIT and interchange

The platform pour for the Woden CIT light rail interchange was meant to be completed in the 2022-23 financial year. Image: ACT Government.

A planned light rail stop is the only Major Projects Canberra (MPC) milestone missed in the 2022-23 financial year, but the infrastructure coordinator insists this doesn’t mean the promise to go southside has gone by the wayside.

It had been scheduled to pour the platform slab for the future Woden Light Rail stop at CIT as part of the project’s second package of works, however, it’s now been moved.

The MPC’s annual report for 2022-23 noted the slab pour was now scheduled for completion in 2024.

Table of Major Projects Canberra milestones outcomes

Major Projects Canberra almost completed 100 per cent of its milestones for the recent financial year. Photo: MPC Annual Report 2022-23.

An MPC spokesperson said the new, light rail-ready bus interchange for Woden Town Centre was still a “critical” part of the CIT Woden project.

“Final designs of the new interchange to be shared with the community in the coming weeks,” they said.

“To keep things running smoothly and in a timely manner, a temporary bus interchange has been constructed next to the site. This enables the CIT Woden Campus works to move forward while also ensuring that bus operations can continue as usual.”

Critical achievements for light rail during this period included the commencement of the Raising London Circuit project, lodging a works approval submission to the National Capital Authority and a development application to the ACT Land and Planning Authority for stage 2A, progression of design works and planning approvals for the expansion of the Mitchell light rail vehicle depot, and community consultation sessions.

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The full light rail to Woden project also wasn’t given a practical estimated completion date in the annual report due to ongoing planning approvals, current design and business case works.

“The specific delivery timeframe for Light Rail Stage 2A commencing operations is subject to signing a contract with the ACT Government’s delivery partner, and finalising an agreed construction program,” the MPC spokesperson said.

“The ACT Government is undertaking contract negotiations for delivery of Light Rail Stage 2A. Canberrans will be provided with updated information on the timeframe for the delivery of Stage 2A once commercially sensitive negotiations have finished and contracts are signed.”

The report further indicates a ramping up in infrastructure projects over the past financial year.

MPC is responsible for delivering “transformative facilities and infrastructure” for the Territory, which currently also includes Canberra Hospital’s Critical Services Building, the Canberra Theatre redevelopment and decommissioning the Garran Surge Centre.

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Capital works in progress (assets under construction) for major projects to be delivered by MPC almost doubled between 2022 and 2023. Total capital works in progress came to $662.9 million for 2023, compared to $284.4 million for 2022.

This includes infrastructure works in progress, which rose from $158.2 million in 2022 to $263.7 million in 2023.

“The increase is due to the Light Rail Stage 2 project progressing further within the detailed design stage, main works on raising London Circuit, construction on Woden bus layovers and design of the Woden interchange,” the report noted.

Building works in progress went from $126.2 million in 2022 to $399.2 million in 2023.

“The increase relates to works in progress on the construction of the critical services building at the Canberra Hospital, designs on the redevelopment of the Canberra Theatre and Canberra Institute of Technology Woden campus.”

table of MPC projects still in progress at end of 2022-23

A number of Major Projects Canberra works were still in progress at the end of the recent financial year. Photo: MPC Annual Report 2022-23.

The MPC’s net cost of services was $30.5 million, which was 31.2 per cent lower than the original budget but 16.4 per cent higher than the cost in 2021-22.

The net cost of services is expected to increase by $17.3 million in 2023-24.

“[This is] mainly due to the increased repairs and maintenance activities and consultants and contractors’ services related to new initiatives starting in 2023–24 such as light rail Stage 2A and 2B, electrification of government gas assets and Garran Surge Centre deconstruction and Garran Oval remediation,” the report noted.

“The Net Cost of Services is budgeted to reduce in 2024–25 and following years due to the expected physical completion of Garran Surge Centre deconstruction and Garran Oval remediation, Canberra hospital Expansion and CIT Woden projects.

“However, the movement of this trend is subject to future business case approvals.”

Looking ahead to the 2023-24 financial year, the MPC’s priorities include completing construction on the Critical Services Building and Welcome Hall as part of the Canberra Hospital Expansion project, progressing the Canberra Light Rail network to Woden, delivering “substantial progress” in delivering the CIT Woden Campus and public transport interchange project, and progressing the preliminary sketch plans design report for the Canberra Theatre Redevelopment Project.

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Just typical if the incompetence of this government. Credit rating has reduced, this light rail still doesn’t have an estimated cost but they’re pouring concrete in woden but still don’t know how they’ll get over the lake nor if they can go near the Bermuda triangle. Can’t wait for our rates to.increase because of this white elephant.

Surely this type of infrastructure spend should occur after the bridge upgrade occurs. If trains can’t cross the bridge and commuter number are in decline what is the point of this arrangement.

When do the estimated costs for the “Building Light Rail to Woden” project become public?

GrumpyGrandpa8:32 pm 18 Oct 23

Am I missing something?
I don’t understand why the government was even planning a concrete pour at Woden for a LR platform, when they don’t even know how they are getting over the bridge!

Because this Govt likes to do odd things – like making the GDE single carriagway, then later on spending a lot more to duplicate it when the duplication should have been done in the first place.

Even though I’m not a light rail supporter, planning for it in the construction of the Woden interchange and CIT project is reasonable.

It would cost a lot more and be very difficult to incorporate it later, noting that most of the work is usable by buses as well if the light rail doesn’t happen.

HiddenDragon7:48 pm 18 Oct 23

In one of the richest of news-rich environments for many, many years it is truly fascinating that attention is being drawn to a seemingly unremarkable delay to what sounds like a small, straightforward part of the light rail to Woden project.

The explanation is probably the usual parochial lack of perspective which permeates so much of this town, but there is also more than a whiff of “the ladies (and gents) doth protest too much” to this and, to continue the Shakespearean theme, “to Woden, or not to Woden, that is the question”.

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