Cities similar to Canberra with light rail

Cities similar to Canberra with light rail

One of the most common requests people make when they are trying to decide whether light rail can work in Canberra, is 'Are there any cities anywhere else in the world similar in size to Canberra with light rail?'

The answer is yes.

In 2012 there were 118 cities with a population of 150,000 or less with light rail.

Capital Metro have a page with some comparative examples here.

This press release from Minister for Capital Metro, Simon Corbell has many examples drawn from a 2015 CURF paper.

Cities chosen for analysis in the study were Freiberg in Germany – an international exemplar of how transport and urban planning can successfully work together; Bergen in Norway – similar to Canberra in terms of its size and dispersed physical form; Edmonton in Canada - similar population size to Canberra at the time of launching its first light rail line; and Adelaide in South Australia – an Australian city whose light rail corridor between Glenelg and the city is comparable.

“Analysis of the four cities has provided a number of key research findings for Canberra as we embark on delivering the first stage of a city-wide light rail network. The paper concludes that each of the case study cities has grown following the introduction of light rail, particularly in the walkable corridors alongside the transport system,” Mr Corbell.
“The case studies have provided evidence that light rail systems spark a change in land use activity over time including more dense residential developments and development of mixed use sites.

“Residential and commercial property values increase around light rail stop due to the willingness of people to pay for better transit access. Experience in these case-study cities shows that developers are aware of the investment opportunities associated with light rail and the economic and social benefits that it enables.”

The CURF paper also confirmed that following the implementation of light rail in Freiberg and Bergen, community attitudes to the urban challenge of car-dependence changed.

Here is a report by the ARA from 2015 with looking at similar size cities to Canberra with light rail.

The ARA report highlights examples of how light rail works successfully in cities of smaller or similar populations to Canberra, including Nice and Valenciennes in France, Frieburg im Breisgau in Germany and Charlotte in the United States.

Since 1981 a dozen American cities with bus-only systems have constructed light rail.

Denver, Colorado, is a city very similar to Canberra in its Y design layout. It has a light rail system that travels along its extensive parkway system when it gets outside Denver CBD.

Le Mans France - Population 295,000, System Length: 15.4 kilometres, Opened: 2007, Rolling Stock: 23 Citadis 302, Construction cost: €229m

For a comprehensive list of light rail worldwide - Wikipedia has a long list.

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


  1. 'Light Rail', what a winner. Finally, some forward thinking (and action). Imagine all of Canberra's major centres and attractions,including the airport linked by 'Light Rail'.
    Provided consecutive ACT governments of all persuasions progress the 'Light Rail' project (vision) into the future it will always be a winner for all.
    Forget the Detractors, they have NO Forward Vision for Canberra.

  2. Anonymous14.12.15

    Mere fact that a city with a comparatively small population has light rail is no basis for implying that light rail will be successful in Canberra. Firstly, it is population density rather than population size that is the critical determinant of light rail success. Secondly, without a cost/benefit analysis of another city's light rail system it is impossible to determine whether or not it truly is a success.

    1. Anonymous12.9.16

      Surely distance traveled is crucial? I see no other alternative proposed. More buses? Automated cars? When? Do we want to be car dominated city? The major corridors have become a nightmare and the speed of vehicles who tail-gate is frightening.