I fully support moving to faster, more sustainable transport options as quickly as possible.
I also support expanding Canberra’s public transport situation, especially to the south which is poorly serviced.
In terms of Light Rail Stage 2 (and beyond), I have raised concerns about the lack of transparency when it comes to costs and timeframes.
While I take a technology neutral view, I also believe any sizeable investment of this nature should be subject to a transparent and rigorous cost-benefit analysis and evidence-based approach.
It shouldn’t be a choice between Light Rail extension and spending on other pressing projects, whether that’s health, education or community infrastructure.
I’ve had a lot of Canberrans raise concerns with me about the fact that while this project has been in the pipeline for years, we still don’t have a clear picture of the cost or the duration of the construction and disruptions along the route. People want more transparency about costs and timeline.
The ACT Auditor-General has also highlighted some pretty significant issues, including with the cost-benefit analysis.
In addition to these concerns, there have also been significant technological advances since the light rail project was first conceived. While the total project costs are yet to be confirmed, it is clear that other, more cost-effective, options are now available, including trackless trams similar to those being trialled in Brisbane and Perth.
I know there have been some suggestions that this is “unproven” technology but so far the pilot looks very encouraging and the cost is significantly lower. The main cost with the Brisbane trial is other associated works like the tunnel and relocating a station underground. The actual vehicle and depot costs are only $189m of the $944m project spend for a 21 kilometre stretch.
Given how tight budgets are, both federally and in the ACT, it is not only reasonable, but necessary for decision makers to revisit whether the current plans are the right ones.
Ultimately, this is a decision for the ACT Government. However, given the Federal Government's involvement in helping fund the project it seems appropriate to contribute to the discussion. I have heard from Canberrans who want to see investment in a range of territory-building infrastructure projects, such as community sporting infrastructure, a new national convention centre, a stadium and giving our growing multicultural communities places to gather, celebrate and pray.
After a decade of under-investment in the Territory, there is pent-up demand for infrastructure investment and as representatives we need to finely balance priorities and be open and transparent about those priorities and the associated costs. I welcome ongoing consultation with experts and the community about Canberra’s public transport infrastructure.
The Federal Government’s financial commitments are publicly available and include $67 million for Stage 1 and $132.5 million for Stage 2A, noting the original commitment from the ALP for Stage 2 was $200 million.
The cost of Stage 1 was $675 million for 12 klm from the City to Gunghalin.
The final costs and cost-benefit analysis for Stage 2, from the City to Woden via the Parliamentary Triangle (see https://www.act.gov.au/lightrailtowoden/interactive-map
For an interactive map of the route) have not yet been released.
Early estimates released in 2018 put the Stage 2 costs in a range of $1.3 to $1.6 billion.
These initial estimates were updated in 2020 to be in the range of $1.5 to 1.9 billion [source 2020 Pre-Election Budget Update 14/9/20].
The ACT Government has split delivery of Stage 2 into two parts, Stage 2A from the City to Commonwealth Park and Stage 2B from Commonwealth Park to Woden via the Parliamentary Triangle.
Raising London Circuit
- The ACT Government says this is expected to take two years to complete and cost $60 million.
It will raise London Circuit by six metres to create a level intersection at Commonwealth Avenue. Designs also include new walking and cycling paths and will enable the next stage of light rail to Woden.
- This component of work has received NCA approval.
- Around 665 parking spaces of the city’s approximate 14,250 public parking spaces will be temporarily impacted with 70 permanently removed.
- Site preparations will commence from the end of September 2022.
Stage 2A ($265 million 3 new stops, 1.7 klm 2026)
- Community consultation on Stage 2A is currently underway, closing 30 September 2022 https://yoursayconversations.act.gov.au/light-rail-to-woden
- This will inform the Environmental Assessment process.
- Timing on ACT Government website says Light Rail to Commonwealth Park should start operating in 2026.
Stage 2B (9 klms)
- Contracts for Stage 2B have yet to be signed.