Friday, September 2, 2016

Light rail Stage Two announced - Off to Woden we go

In its final Cabinet meeting before entering Caretaker period, the ACT Government has endorsed a Civic to Woden route for Stage Two of Canberra's light rail. by creating a north-south spine, the light rail network will stretch from Gungahlin to Woden. From this mass transit spine, frequent bus services will radiate out and increase public transport options for everyone.

By declaring a bold stage two of light rail, the ACT Government firmly indicates to all of Canberra that the light rail project will eventually reach their town centre. Crossing the lake and travelling through the Parliamentary Triangle are the two big factors that the rest of the network depend upon.

Future extensions to Tuggeranong, or even Queanbeyan are now extremely feasible. A Civic - Russell - Airport route would connect to a light rail network that travels to many national attractions and hotel/entertainment precincts. Going across the lake opens up the other routes from the Light Rail Network Plan for realistic implementation.

The ability of light rail to act as an urban renewal catalyst, as well as a tool to deal with road congestion and increase public transport patronage is well known, and the main reason Canberra chose light rail over BRT. This announcement is well timed, and politically savvy. It will appeal to voters in the South of Canberra and provides an overwhelmingly superior policy when compared to the Canberra Liberals bus only policy.

Civic - Parliamentary Triangle - Woden light rail Stage Two route
ABC Online reported:
"Stage two of Canberra's controversial light rail project will be extended to Woden if Labor is re-elected, the ACT Government says. The Government today announced the second stage of the tram line would join Civic and the Woden town centre. The announcement could counter concerns Capital Metro would only benefit a small area of Canberra, living between Gungahlin and the city centre.

The light rail project has a been a key election issue with the Opposition threatening to scrap the project. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the new plan would create a north-south public transport spine for Canberra from the first stage from Gungahlin to the second stage to Woden.

Mr Barr said the route was yet to be determined, with plans to be developed over the next parliamentary term. But the line is expected to run through the Parliamentary Triangle.
"There are of course the complications of getting over Lake Burley Griffin and the preferred route there is over Commonwealth Avenue Bridge," he said
"There may be some additional costs in getting south of the lake but, broadly speaking, we anticipate the costs to be similar to the costs of stage one."

Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury welcomed the announcement and said future extensions to the route were already in the works.
"By 2040 we expect thousands more people travelling from Woden towards the city in the morning peak and employment in the Parliamentary Triangle is expected to dramatically increase between now and 2041," he said."
Map of potential future light rail links across Canberra.
Potential light rail network map from October 2015
ACT Government Media Release 1 Sep 2016
Stage 2 announced for light rail
Woden to the City via the Parliamentary Triangle has been selected as the preferred route for the next stage of a Canberra’s city wide light rail network, connecting the north and south of our city, linking employment and cultural hubs and creating a public transport spine from Gungahlin to Woden.
This Cabinet decision follows extensive community consultation on the priority corridors for the next stage of light rail and preliminary investigations by the ACT Government.
Making Woden to the City via the Parliamentary Triangle the next stage of the light rail gives us a north-south spine for our public transport network, which rapid and local buses will feed into and from which we can extend into the next priority stages of the core light rail network: Belconnen, the Airport and further into the Parliamentary Triangle.
It will also continue the renewal of Woden, which is already being led by relocating more than 1000 ACT Government employees into the town centre.
Minister for Transport and City Services Meegan Fitzharris said connecting light rail all the way from Gungahlin to Woden would be a city-building project and would alleviate congestion across the north and south of Canberra.
“We have always said light rail would be a city-wide public transport project. Now that the first stage of light rail, from Gungahlin to the City, is under construction, we can consider where it will go next.
“We’ve consulted with the community, and with almost 210,000 Canberrans projected to live, work or study within one kilometre of the Woden corridor by 2041, it makes sense to extend light rail over the lake, through the Parliamentary Triangle and into the bustling Woden town centre.”
Planning Minister Mick Gentleman said:
“We need to start planning for the future growth of our city now. Identifying the next stage of the light rail route is vital if we want to continue to reduce congestion on our roads and give commuters a real choice to leave the car at home and take public transport.
“Extending light rail to Woden confirms the ACT Government’s vision and commitment to developing a city-wide light rail network starting with this north-south spine. It is all part of our plan to develop an integrated public transport network that is convenient, efficient, affordable and reliable – a genuine alternative to driving.”
Planning for the next stage of light rail will get underway in coming months.
Minister Shane Rattenbury said it was vital to keep momentum with the light rail network.
“Stage one, which links our fastest growing suburb to the CBD, is just the start. It is critical that we don’t stop now and the light rail network continues to grow as planned, serving more Canberrans. This next step is very important, and once we have the spine of the network running from Gungahlin in the north to Woden in the south in place, we will be in an excellent position to expand city-wide.”
The other priority corridors identified through community consultation were to Belconnen, the Airport and further into the Parliamentary Triangle. These will form the next stages of the city wide light rail network.

Statement ends.

The Australian Rail Association, the rail industry peak body released a statement in support f the Stage Two announcement.

ARA Welcomes ACT Light Rail Stage Two Announcement

The ARA congratulates the ACT Government on its announcement that City to Woden has been selected as the preferred route for Stage 2 of Canberra's Light Rail network.
With Stage 1 of the network connecting Canberra's fastest growing region - Gungahlin - with the city, it is an intuitive decision to further extend the light rail route into Canberra's southside across Commonwealth Bridge.
"Stage 2 from Civic to Woden will generate urban renewal, create jobs for Canberrans and realise a renewal of Woden town centre," said ARA CEO Danny Broad.
"Light Rail along the Woden corridor through the Parliamentary Triangle will ease congestion and is friendlier to the environment than continuing Canberra's reliance on motor vehicles.
"With more than 200,000 Canberrans projected to live or work within a kilometre of the Woden corridor by 2041, this Stage 2 decision is a vital link in Canberra'a broader Light Rail network that has future public transport needs at its heart.
"It is positive to see that an integrated approach to public transport is at the core of the ACT Government's planning for Canberra's future public transport needs.
"Buses, bicycle paths and parking will be smoothly integrated with Light Rail to ensure a safe, efficient and environmentally friendly transport network for our nation's capital.  
"Canberra's Light Rail network must also eventually extend to Belconnen in the north and Tuggeranong in the south and I call on the ACT Government to move quickly in announcing future stages, to ensure a continuity of associated works programs and to maintain community support," said Danny Broad.
Statement ends

The reaction to the announcement of a second stage of light rail from Civic to Woden has been overwhelmingly positive.

Transport Canberra Minister Meegan Fitzharris, WVCC's Martin Miler and ACT Light Rail Chair Damien Haas were interviewed on 666ABC radio on Friday Sep 2nd about the announcement.

Listen to the audio here.

For more frequent updates on Capital Metro and light rail related news, please visit our Facebook page 'Light Rail for Canberra'.  

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