Light rail delays net government $28m, as Green backs State Circle

Delays in both stages of the light rail project have netted the ACT government nearly $28 million, as Greens crossbencher Caroline Le Couteur signals support for the third route being considered for the Woden leg.

The territory saved $18.6 million in availability payments to Canberra Metro due to its missed construction deadline, according to the Transport Canberra six-monthly performance report tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.

A light rail vehicle being tested on Northbourne Avenue. The project is running several months behind schedule.  Photo: Karleen Minney

A light rail vehicle being tested on Northbourne Avenue. The project is running several months behind schedule. Photo: Karleen Minney

There was also lower than budgeted depreciation of $5.3 million because of the delayed start to light rail operations. The Gungahlin to city rail line is now expected to start running from April 27, after originally being due for construction completion in late December.

Meanwhile delays in the Commonwealth approvals process for light rail stage two has seen an underspend of $4.8 million on the budget for consultants for the Woden stretch of the project, as the government considers scrapping the proposed route through Barton and instead taking light rail via State Circle.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the government was seriously reconsidering the route, after a federal parliamentary committee concluded it would be the path of least resistance in getting the project approved.

The territory will make a final call once it receives the federal government's response to the joint standing committee report.

However Greens crossbencher Caroline Le Couteur said her constituents preferred the State Circle option, as it would be faster than cutting through the Parliamentary Triangle.

She made the comments while tabling a petition from Woden residents, calling on the government to consider a faster light rail route, as well as keeping the Blue Rapid from Woden to the City when light rail stage two starts running.

"Most of the time the bus makes it from woden to the city in 16 minutes or less, sometimes down to 12, it's regularly done in 13," Ms Le Couteur said.

"The residents behind this petition are concerned [about losing] this fast direct service when light rail starts. The Barton route will take nearly 30 minutes to city. That's almost a doubling of the travel time for those who start in Woden."

Ms Le Couteur said many of the people who signed the petition would welcome the new route.

"Certainly the feedback I've had from the people in my electorate is that they prefer the State Circle option on the assumption it would be quicker than the Barton dogleg," Ms Le Couteur said.