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TOOT TOOT! Light Rail the Universal Panacea!

By johnboy 27 November 2013 26

Simon Corbell is blowing his own steam whistle on the virtues of his consultation for the planned Capital Metro line between Gungahlin and Civic.

And my golly gosh won’t it fix a load of things:

“Capital Metro is not just about moving people. It is a catalyst for realising the vision of a sustainable, modern and creative Canberra. Revitalising Northbourne Avenue and the City Centre will bring a wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits to all Canberrans.

“Light rail is proving a powerful tool to revitalise and reshape cities. It is not just a form of transport; permanent tracks in the ground provide business certainty, encourage investment and connect people and places. Capital Metro is important in delivering other Government priorities such as the City Plan and City to Lake projects,” Mr Corbell said.

Sadly it won’t mow my lawn or gratify me sexually, but it seems to have everything else covered!


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26 Responses to
TOOT TOOT! Light Rail the Universal Panacea!
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rigseismic67 5:56 pm 24 Jun 14

If the government simply did off a few % of its public housing stock there would be no need to make the rest of us pay.

wildturkeycanoe 4:56 pm 24 Jun 14

dungfungus has made a great point about the tram cables. The ones in Melbourne are at 5.64m as far as I can see, some systems are lower, around 4.1m. They would have to consider keeping the lines as high as possible to allow semi trailers to travel beneath, as semis are allowed to be 4.3m to 4.6m high. Doesn’t leave a great deal of room under the lines does it. Then there are the rest of the power lines to be avoided as well. Logistically, I’d hate to be designing this.

dungfungus 11:07 am 24 Jun 14

boormat said :

What really annoys me with the Light Rail obsession is that is claims to be Long term thinking, but really its looking back to the past. Stop watching Tomas the Tank engine and dreaming of Monorails.

You have to think about convenience and coming technologies, and how it all will fit together. To make public transport work, make it fast and friendly to use, plan to leverage the technology that will be common in 20 years.

Think transport that takes you door to door. Buses scheduled dynamically from smartphones and from mining historical data. Think of pooled car rental systems. With self driving cars going to be on roads in years not decades, the car pooling solutions instantly become so much more practical when the pools do not need special car parks, but can park further away and come pick up the passenger on demand.

Start to combine those sorts of things together and you get pooled cars doing the suburban legs, interconnecting with high speed long distance buses.

If you look at that vision of what is possible, Rail solutions are too inflexible. Certainly no flexibility to change the route to pick up people on demand, and because its a single rail, you cannot just add more trains to the route, as the ALL have to go the speed of the slowest one. No Express tram services like Bus systems do all the time, even the adhoc style when bus are scheduled at basically the same time so can leapfrog each other.

That’s without the ability of a bus to bypass an accident, roadworks or other problem that just stops rail outright.

Of course that really is a big OPPORTUNITY for the ACT, it would be the perfect city in Australia to introduce automated cars. A single government to deal with to get legistlation done who runs everything from Vehicle regulation and the single bus operator, plenty of exposure as the Capital.

Something that can develop local industry, which would otherwise develop elsewhere.

Trams have been around for over 100 years. Despite now calling them light rail transport and tarting them up with Euro inspired styling and trendy names (like cars with Spanish sounding names) they are still bound by rails and have to have a labyrinth of poles, wires and substaions to make them work. Not much has changed.
Your concept has a lot of merit but the Canberra Burgomasters have already been besotted by the allure of the Euro Tram cartel and the “me too” outcome their sales pitch delivers.
It’s ironic that the same spin that the diesel and rubber marketers used 60 years ago to get rid of trams is now being applied to bring them back.

boormat 8:16 am 24 Jun 14

What really annoys me with the Light Rail obsession is that is claims to be Long term thinking, but really its looking back to the past. Stop watching Tomas the Tank engine and dreaming of Monorails.

You have to think about convenience and coming technologies, and how it all will fit together. To make public transport work, make it fast and friendly to use, plan to leverage the technology that will be common in 20 years.

Think transport that takes you door to door. Buses scheduled dynamically from smartphones and from mining historical data. Think of pooled car rental systems. With self driving cars going to be on roads in years not decades, the car pooling solutions instantly become so much more practical when the pools do not need special car parks, but can park further away and come pick up the passenger on demand.

Start to combine those sorts of things together and you get pooled cars doing the suburban legs, interconnecting with high speed long distance buses.

If you look at that vision of what is possible, Rail solutions are too inflexible. Certainly no flexibility to change the route to pick up people on demand, and because its a single rail, you cannot just add more trains to the route, as the ALL have to go the speed of the slowest one. No Express tram services like Bus systems do all the time, even the adhoc style when bus are scheduled at basically the same time so can leapfrog each other.

That’s without the ability of a bus to bypass an accident, roadworks or other problem that just stops rail outright.

Of course that really is a big OPPORTUNITY for the ACT, it would be the perfect city in Australia to introduce automated cars. A single government to deal with to get legistlation done who runs everything from Vehicle regulation and the single bus operator, plenty of exposure as the Capital.

Something that can develop local industry, which would otherwise develop elsewhere.

gooterz 10:58 pm 03 Apr 14

Walker said :

Storm said :

dungfungus said :

A tram with sails?
The passengers can be given (renewable) poles to use to accelerate the vehicle to crising speed of 2 km per hour. Hope there is room for bike racks.

Or, every seat will have pedals, every passenger using it should be pedalling. There you go- fitness improved, fossil fuels not used to power it. 🙂

I’m waaay ahead of you. 😉

When we have 25 members they’ll be able to use all that extra hot air.

HiddenDragon 1:49 am 03 Apr 14

Everything old is new again:

http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/exhibns/month/mar2001.html

Not sure if they had Skywhales in those days, though – Moby-volant(?)

Walker 12:08 am 02 Apr 14

Storm said :

dungfungus said :

A tram with sails?
The passengers can be given (renewable) poles to use to accelerate the vehicle to crising speed of 2 km per hour. Hope there is room for bike racks.

Or, every seat will have pedals, every passenger using it should be pedalling. There you go- fitness improved, fossil fuels not used to power it. 🙂

I’m waaay ahead of you. 😉

Storm 1:33 pm 01 Apr 14

dungfungus said :

A tram with sails?
The passengers can be given (renewable) poles to use to accelerate the vehicle to crising speed of 2 km per hour. Hope there is room for bike racks.

Or, every seat will have pedals, every passenger using it should be pedalling. There you go- fitness improved, fossil fuels not used to power it. 🙂

dungfungus 10:22 am 31 Mar 14

shauno said :

Ive got an idea how about we power this train purely with wind and solar and see how reliable this will be since the greens think we should abandon all coal power and they wont let us use nukes. So let this be a test. No connection to the grid it has to only run from solar and wind directly.

A tram with sails?
The passengers can be given (renewable) poles to use to accelerate the vehicle to crising speed of 2 km per hour. Hope there is room for bike racks.

miz 9:35 pm 30 Mar 14

That macro business article cited by Hidden Dragon is an excellent summary. The comment “simply buses on rails. Pathetic, really” kind of sums it up. And I agree with gooterz, they must be tripping to actually send out this rubbish spin with a straight face.
I vote we spend the money that’s been allocated on this daft project on improving the bus network we have which they won’t spend money on. The ‘improvements’ coming in July don’t represent more money, just trade offs.

dungfungus 7:31 pm 30 Mar 14

HiddenDragon said :

dungfungus said :

HiddenDragon said :

After yesterday’s meeting of Treasurers, there’s now the cheerful prospect that useful assets will be flogged off, with a Commonwealth bonus, to pay for this.

Here’s a different perspective on the merits of light rail for Canberra, and this from a blog which tends towards the progressive in its views:

http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2014/03/a-textbook-example-of-infrastructure-pork/

Another story this week, about light rail in Sydney – serving a much larger population, and funded by a Government with very much deeper pockets – made an interesting contrast to what is planned here.

There is a lot of common sense in that macrobusiness.com link.

Indeed – it was refreshing – based on an understanding of Canberra, but with a broader perspective from a site which (despite what some might assume from its name) is most definitely not a dry, hard-right haven for those who think that government should be as small as possible and that untrammelled markets hold all the answers.

Aside from the points which have been repeatedly made about construction and running costs, and inflexibility of routes, this plan locks us in to existing technologies – which is something to think carefully about for those who seek to defend it by saying that it is a smart, visionary solution for the coming decades.

You are right in saying that the current technology, which is over 100 years old, will lock it in forever. It would be better if the whole project was delayed for 5 years while a lot of new technologies that are not yet mature enough for commercial use become available through testing and tweaking. Some of these technologies would immediately halve the cost by doing away with catenarys and their supporting infrastructures. Lighter rail cars would also obviate the need to excavate and relocate cables and asbestos water pipes.
Unfortunately, it is already apparent that we are going to get the Bombardier Flexity trams that have been chosen for the Gold Coast light rail probably with energy recapture through very expensive and low life expectancy supercapictors which is the “state of the art” for limited catenary free operation (about 400 metres max.)
There are a lot of misrepresentations being made about light rail being suitable for Canberra with population densities of small French cities with light rail comparing favourably with Canberra. It is only a portion of Canberra that is getting light rail initially and up to 7000 passengers a day doesn’t look good. Also, while the electric motors that power the trams give no emissions, there are still emissions being produced at remote power stations when some of the electricity for them is generated. Hardly a carbon free outcome.

milkman 3:02 pm 30 Mar 14

dungfungus said :

HiddenDragon said :

After yesterday’s meeting of Treasurers, there’s now the cheerful prospect that useful assets will be flogged off, with a Commonwealth bonus, to pay for this.

Here’s a different perspective on the merits of light rail for Canberra, and this from a blog which tends towards the progressive in its views:

http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2014/03/a-textbook-example-of-infrastructure-pork/

Another story this week, about light rail in Sydney – serving a much larger population, and funded by a Government with very much deeper pockets – made an interesting contrast to what is planned here.

There is a lot of common sense in that macrobusiness.com link.

They’re wrong a lot, though.

HiddenDragon 12:34 pm 30 Mar 14

dungfungus said :

HiddenDragon said :

After yesterday’s meeting of Treasurers, there’s now the cheerful prospect that useful assets will be flogged off, with a Commonwealth bonus, to pay for this.

Here’s a different perspective on the merits of light rail for Canberra, and this from a blog which tends towards the progressive in its views:

http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2014/03/a-textbook-example-of-infrastructure-pork/

Another story this week, about light rail in Sydney – serving a much larger population, and funded by a Government with very much deeper pockets – made an interesting contrast to what is planned here.

There is a lot of common sense in that macrobusiness.com link.

Indeed – it was refreshing – based on an understanding of Canberra, but with a broader perspective from a site which (despite what some might assume from its name) is most definitely not a dry, hard-right haven for those who think that government should be as small as possible and that untrammelled markets hold all the answers.

Aside from the points which have been repeatedly made about construction and running costs, and inflexibility of routes, this plan locks us in to existing technologies – which is something to think carefully about for those who seek to defend it by saying that it is a smart, visionary solution for the coming decades.

gooterz 4:44 pm 29 Mar 14

The riotact has more value to me. So it must be worth at least a billion

dungfungus 4:23 pm 29 Mar 14

HiddenDragon said :

After yesterday’s meeting of Treasurers, there’s now the cheerful prospect that useful assets will be flogged off, with a Commonwealth bonus, to pay for this.

Here’s a different perspective on the merits of light rail for Canberra, and this from a blog which tends towards the progressive in its views:

http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2014/03/a-textbook-example-of-infrastructure-pork/

Another story this week, about light rail in Sydney – serving a much larger population, and funded by a Government with very much deeper pockets – made an interesting contrast to what is planned here.

There is a lot of common sense in that macrobusiness.com link.

banco 1:09 pm 29 Mar 14

dungfungus said :

I really hope that the Capital Metro plan was, as suggested by many, a last minute political fix for ACT Labor to form a minority government following last year’s ACT Legeslative Assembly election because if it goes ahead, no matter what type of financing is involved, the costs (losses) will be underwritten by you know who.
Perhaps the front page article in the same paper with Andrew Barr admitting to the parlous state of the Territory’s finances is a subliminal message that the Capital Metro project will not proceed. Indeed, it is not mentioned amongst the other white elephant projects that will require financing (stadium, convention centre etc.) and while Barr will claim the light rail will be funded buy a PPP I think this is absolute fantasy.
If I am wrong, prepare for a duplicate of our $100 million a year plus subsidised public bus system. An “Action on Rails” folly.

I think it’s clear that Labor privately realises that building this thing would be an economic disaster which is why they keep thinking up new ways to delay actually building it. It’s like a carrot on a stick that they hold out for the economically illiterate greens voters.

HiddenDragon 11:36 am 29 Mar 14

After yesterday’s meeting of Treasurers, there’s now the cheerful prospect that useful assets will be flogged off, with a Commonwealth bonus, to pay for this.

Here’s a different perspective on the merits of light rail for Canberra, and this from a blog which tends towards the progressive in its views:

http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2014/03/a-textbook-example-of-infrastructure-pork/

Another story this week, about light rail in Sydney – serving a much larger population, and funded by a Government with very much deeper pockets – made an interesting contrast to what is planned here.

dungfungus 10:04 am 29 Mar 14

More propaganda in today’s Canberra Times (two separate articles) about the planned Capital Metro 13km light rail from City to Gungahlin.
Barbara Norman from University of Canberra has supported the project (well, given the ACT Government’s financial support to UC she would say that wouldn’t she) from her perspective as an urban and regional planner in her article and Ross Peake even dares to put some negativity in his article but nowhere is the ugliness of the the poles and wires that will accompany this project mentioned.
The usual phony artist’s impression of two (at least one empty!) trams at the far from vibrant Gungahlin town centre is shown with the overhead catenary (two wires?) being supported again by those invisible sky hooks (where does one buy these ingenious devices?) but no impression of the real supporting stanchions and cross wires that are required in.
Goebells would be proud of this effort.
When Canberrans realize how ugly the infrastructure of poles and wires will be to make a light rail network function there will be a massive public outcry given that Canberra has excelled so much in keeping most ugly and visually intrusive cables underground for so long. The only way this can be avoided is to incorporate a ground level powered third rail which will double the cost of the project. Anyone with any doubts about how light rail will ruin Canberra’a pristine green urban landscape this should check out the photo gallery of the Gold Coast light rail at the following link.
http://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/gold-coast/gold-coast-trams-design-flaw-causes-chaos-on-gold-coast-highway/story-fnj94idh-1226864892367
The only person showing any sense in this financially risky fiasco is Alistair Coe who correctly identifies a more sensible first stage as Belconnen to the airport via City and Russell. You don’t have to be a professor of urban planning to work that out do you?
I really hope that the Capital Metro plan was, as suggested by many, a last minute political fix for ACT Labor to form a minority government following last year’s ACT Legeslative Assembly election because if it goes ahead, no matter what type of financing is involved, the costs (losses) will be underwritten by you know who.
Perhaps the front page article in the same paper with Andrew Barr admitting to the parlous state of the Territory’s finances is a subliminal message that the Capital Metro project will not proceed. Indeed, it is not mentioned amongst the other white elephant projects that will require financing (stadium, convention centre etc.) and while Barr will claim the light rail will be funded buy a PPP I think this is absolute fantasy.
If I am wrong, prepare for a duplicate of our $100 million a year plus subsidised public bus system. An “Action on Rails” folly.

house_husband 7:00 am 28 Nov 13

monorail, Monorail, MONORAIL!!!! Doh!

IrishPete 11:49 pm 27 Nov 13

shauno said :

Ive got an idea how about we power this train purely with wind and solar and see how reliable this will be since the greens think we should abandon all coal power and they wont let us use nukes. So let this be a test. No connection to the grid it has to only run from solar and wind directly.

You are saying it should have a wind turbine on the roof? And internal batteries? Not overhead cables or third rail? That’s a hell of a challenge. Maybe you’d rather it was coal powered or nuclear powered. And no connection to the grid. you can shovel the coal or the uranium.

IP

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