University of Canberra wants light rail through middle of campus

University of Canberra wants light rail through middle of campus

The University of Canberra wants a future stage of light rail to run through the centre of their campus "like Bourke Street mall" in Melbourne, as the ACT government admits the idea has "huge potential".

The university used their submission to a federal parliamentary inquiry into the second stage of Canberra's light rail project to make their play for a light rail leg through the centre of the Bruce campus.

An early proposal for the light rail route through the University of Canberra. 

An early proposal for the light rail route through the University of Canberra. Credit:University of Canberra

An extra 10,000 people are expected to live and work in the Belconnen suburb with the new rehabilitation hospital opening up this month and construction on 3300 units and townhouses beginning next year.

That's on top of the 10,000 people already working or studying on the campus.


More of the campus will be developed in coming months, with a cancer centre, residential aged care home and child care centre on the way.

The university also flagged likely future developments, including new sporting facilities, as well as new office, commercial and other precincts.

"Such a vibrant and cosmopolitan complex would benefit greatly from reliable, efficient and environmentally sound public transport," the submission reads.

The university said while the bus stops on College Street are some of the busiest in Canberra, the population centre of the campus was moving north, making a light rail line along there "less attractive and useful to this burgeoning population".

"Consequently, we propose that the line run through the campus proper on an east-west alignment broadly in the centre of the campus - much as Melbourne’s tram system runs along the Bourke Street Mall.

"The Bourke St example demonstrates how trams and pedestrians can co-exist, and this alignment will support a greater range of retail, food and other outlets on the campus."

Under this alignment, most staff and students would be within 400 metres of the light rail network.

"We at UC think that this option will increase patronage and revenue for the light rail system, and ensure the UC - Canberra’s own university - is better integrated with the life of the city," the university said.

Belconnen, Russell and Canberra Airport will eventually be linked by an east-west light rail line, although the initial north-south connection between Gungahlin and Woden forms the backbone of the network.

A spokesman for the university said the government had expressed interest in exploring the proposal further.

"Discussions between the university and ACT government officials are ongoing," he said.

He said there were some issues to work through, including the impact on campus buildings and operations, and the technical feasibility of the route.

"This proposed alignment is indicative only. In the event the university’s proposal becomes a reality, we will work with the ACT government on the final alignment," the spokesman said.

"Our campus is becoming an even greater hub of activity and we expect to see an increase in people using the facilities and services on offer, particularly future residents."

A spokesman for ACT Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris said the government was "positively predisposed" to considering a route through the university campus.

The chosen route for light rail stage two takes in the Australian National University campus in Acton.

"An east-west light rail alignment from Belconnen to the Airport via the city and Russell has huge potential to be a university line, linking up the University of Canberra and ANU and potentially a city campus of UNSW Canberra - in addition to serving the Belconnen town centre, University of Canberra and Calvary hospitals, the city, the Russell defence precinct and the airport," the spokesman said.

"The precise details of how best to service the campuses and the communities that use them will be worked out as part of the detailed planning stage, when decisions on exactly where the route will go will be made."

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Times, covering ACT politics.

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