ACT News


First stage of light rail approved, calls for Parliament House next

Tram advocates have told the ACT government the second stage of Canberra's light rail network should link the parliamentary triangle with the city, Russell and Woden.

Lobby group ACT Light Rail used a submission to the government's light rail masterplan public consultation process to call for trams to service Parliament House and the national institutions as well as for consideration of services to major residential developments at Googong and the CSIRO field station site at Ginninderra which could be developed into housing. 

On Tuesday, Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell announced development applications for construction of the first stage city to Gungahlin line had been approved by the ACT Environment and Planning Directorate. A development application for the 3.2 kilometre proposed Russell extension, supported by the government, was also approved. 

Further works approval applications for parts of the project on land controlled by the National Capital Authority, including sections of Northbourne Avenue and Constitution Avenue, will be lodged next year.

Construction on Northbourne Avenue is due to begin next year and be completed by 2019.

In its submission ACT Light Rail said a business case was needed for each of the government's seven proposed tram corridors, as outlined in the 25-year network plan released in October. The group called for federal government funding for trams, but said development should go ahead even without Commonwealth support. 


"ACT Light Rail supports the ACT government exploring alternative funding models, including land value capture, congestion charges and toll road funding being used to expand public transport," the submission said. 

The group called for the parliamentary triangle business case to be linked to next year's ACT government budget.

It said a tram line along the Barton Highway should be considered in the future, for the Belconnen route to link Kippax to the city via Macarthur Avenue instead of Barry Drive, and for a further Gungahlin to Belconnen connection to be considered.

The Weston Creek Community Council told the consultation process the government's $783 million first stage had been "decided unilaterally and without any consultation". It welcomed debate about the city wide network and future routes. 

"The [council] does not support the Civic to Gungahlin light rail route as an appropriate stage 1 route for Canberra," the submission said. "This corridor is simply too biased in favour of one side of Canberra, and doesn't service enough people and key destinations to be viable."

Members disagreed with the city, Molonglo, Weston Creek and Woden route would be "too slow, indirect and next to useless for Weston Creek residents". 

"As such, considering the gargantuan costs involved, it is either never going to get built, or if it gets built hardly anyone is going to use it and a lot of money will have been wasted," the submission said. 

The council called for the Woden to Civic route to be the highest priority for stage two, before Belconnen to Civic and the parliamentary triangle to Kingston.

It criticised the government's plan for not including any costs, and used the stage one price tag to estimate the total cost at about $10 billion dollars, in 2015 money. 

The council said the cost may be even higher because some of the proposed routes are more complicated than the city to Gungahlin corridor and would require bridge crossings and underground power.

The government has warned against extrapolating the $783 million cost for stage one, arguing some of the initial cost outlay for rolling stock, depots and crews could be saved for future routes.  

Mr Corbell said about 20 public submissions about the development applications were received.


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