ACT Budget funds for Mitchell light rail stop, improving ‘Park and Ride’ and Woden light rail

IMG_20180117_102104505The 2018-19 ACT Budget will be announced on Tuesday 5 June. Along with a significant drip feed of pre-budget announcements across a broad range of portfolios, this announcement from the TCCS Minister focuses on light rail and buses. It also provides funding to address any questions that the NCA and the federal inquiry into light rail, may have.

The highlights of the announcement are:

  • Construction of a light rail stop in Mitchell in 2019/20
  • $10 million to further advance the technical and design aspects of light rail to Woden (includes work to inform the recently announced federal inquiry)
  • $2.5 million in works to support Woden light rail including businesses cases for the redesign and build of a new Woden Town Centre bus interchange, an updated ‘Park and Ride’ strategy incorporating bus and light rail, and redevelopment of the Yarra Glenn intersection with Melrose and Yamba Drives to accommodate light rail.

This is the media release in full:

Media release by Meegan Fitzharris MLA Minister for Transport and City services

More investment in light rail to continue the network rollout

The ACT Government is investing in the next stage of planning, design and enabling works for light rail from the City to Woden through the 2018 Budget.

Extending light rail to Woden will see Canberra further realise the benefits of a city-wide light rail network by providing a critical north-south public transport spine. We are committed to bringing light rail to Woden, and this further investment will ensure we deliver,” said Minister for Transport Canberra and City Services Meegan Fitzharris.

“The preferred route will connect the City and Woden via Parkes and Barton. This route provides the best access through the Parliamentary Zone to employment hubs, cultural institutions and other places of interest such as Manuka Oval.

“With this preferred route now on the table and progress being made regarding the Commonwealth’s approval processes, we are getting on with making Canberra’s transformative public transport project a reality.

“Light rail from Gungahlin to the City is going well, with testing of the light rail vehicles to begin soon, and Canberra Metro on track to complete construction in December this year.

“This Budget will also fund the start of works on a light rail stop for Mitchell. This will enable Transport Canberra to enter into negotiations for a stop at Sandford Street and will include the technical design for the stop to be constructed in 2019-20.”

Minister Fitzharris said the Budget will invest $10 million to further advance the technical and design aspects of light rail to Woden so that the National Capital Authority will have all the information it needs to understand the benefits of the project.

“This will include work to inform the recently announced Inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee into the Commonwealth and Parliamentary approvals for the project.

“The ACT Government has welcomed the Inquiry, and we are committed to working with all relevant stakeholders to ensure planning for this project responds to their needs so that we can deliver this important transport link for our city.”

The Budget will also invest a further $2.5 million in works to support light rail to Woden. This involves the preparation of detailed businesses cases for potential early works, including:

  • The redesign and build of a new Transport Canberra bus interchange in the Woden Town Centre;
  • An upgrade of Parkes Way to improve traffic flow;
  • The development of an updated ‘Park and Ride’ strategy incorporating bus and light rail; and
  • The redevelopment of the Yarra Glenn intersection with Melrose and Yamba Drives to accommodate light rail.

“We are tackling this project from both ends because we want to be ready to get work underway as soon as the project gets the green light.

“This project is significant for Woden and urban renewal of the town centre. We are already seeing investment in Woden as a result of the ACT Government’s plan to build light rail, and this will continue as we have seen along the City to Gungahlin corridor,” Minister Fitzharris said.

This investment in delivering an integrated public transport system for Canberra is another way the ACT Government is growing services for our growing city through the 2018 Budget.”

More to come after the budget is officially released.

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra, join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.

Launch of Canberra’s first light rail vehicle at the new Mitchell Depot

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On Wednesday morning the Chief Minister Andrew Barr, MLA Shane Rattenbury and Canberra Metro CEO Glenn Stockton, officially launched the first CAF Light Rail Vehicle for Canberra’s light rail network at the (almost completed) Canberra Metro light rail depot at Mitchell.

IMG_20180117_102807342.jpgAs a significant milestone for this important transport infrastructure project, the remarks by both the Chief Minister and Shane Rattenbury were focused on city building and the transformative nature of light rail. It was a confident delivery of a key election commitment, and that satisfaction was evident today. Glenn Stockton also spoke about the pride he had in his workforce in delivering the project for Canberra and that it would be delivered on time.

Todays launch clearly shows that progress on light rail stage one is continuing and on schedule for service to commence in late 2018. A second stage of the light rail network is currently being designed and worked through (the business case is imminent). The PTCBR is supportive of this as it will provide superior public transport options to Canberra’s residents, and drive the transformation of Canberra from car dependency to a more livable compact city.

Media coverage

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WINTV Canberra covered the launch here

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Nine News Canberra covered the launch here

The RiotACT covered the launch here with good reporting of the comments made by those present:

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr, centre, with the Greens’ Shane Rattenbury and Caroline Le Couteur. At left is Tilo Franz Canberra Metro General Manager Tilo Franz and Capital Metro Chief Executive Glenn Stockton. Photo. Tim Benson.

“Mr Barr said the LRV’s unveiling was an important milestone and another practical example of progress on the project and of the Government meeting its election commitments.

He said that with Canberra’s population heading towards half a million it was crucial to invest in transport infrastructure now.

“That’s why we’re continuing to work on Stage 2 of light rail together with further investments and initiatives to improve transportation within the city,” he said.

He said the sceptics had been proved wrong and he was particularly pleased with the rejuvenation of the Northbourne corridor which is occurring faster than expected.

“There were many sceptics in the lead-up to the procurement of this project and many people said I wouldn’t be standing here as Chief Minister after the last election as a result of our advocacy for this project,” he said.

“Those sceptics also said there wouldn’t be the sort of investment and renewal in the Northbourne corridor we’re witnessing.”

He said there would a continued focus on public transport improvement, with light rail at the centre, including more rapid bus routes, improved demand responsive transport and more active transport options.

“It’s all part of making Canberra an easier city to get around and a better city to live in,” Mr Barr said.

The ACT Greens’ Cabinet Minister Shane Rattenbury said the Canberra LRV was the first in Australia to have a dedicated space for bicycles and was part of the strategy to provide as many options and as much connectivity as possible.

“I think well see people using light rail as their central transport spine, particularly when Stage 2 to Woden is complete,” he said.

Mr Rattenbury could even see bikeshare services install racks at light rail stops.

He said travelling to and from Gungahlin would be much easier and the Government was now considering a stop at Mitchell, where traders have been campaigning not to be bypassed.

“This is a really important part of shaping our city for the future. This is about providing modern environmentally friendly transport alternatives for Canberrans,” Mr Rattenbury said.”

The Canberra Times reported on the launch here:

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ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr with Canberra’s first light rail vehicle at its depot in Mitchell. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

“Canberra Metro chief executive Glenn Stockton said one tram a week will start arriving in Canberra from the end of March, with testing on an electrified track to begin in April. “

“Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who revealed he’d nicknamed the tram Cam in what could be seen as a nod to the Can-The-Tram movement, said there was a degree of satisfaction in seeing the project reach this stage.

“Let’s be frank, there were many sceptics in the lead up to the procurement of this project. Many people said I wouldn’t be standing here as Chief Minister after the last election as a result of our advocacy for this project.

“Those sceptics also said there wouldn’t be this sort of investment and renewal of the Northbourne corridor we’re currently witnessing so there’s a strong sense of satisfaction but we’ve still got a way to go, we’ve got a second stage of this project to work through in the context of this parliamentary term and there’s a lot more new investment coming for Canberra and a continued focus on public transport improvement.”

Mr Barr said the business case for the second stage of the project would be looked at when cabinet reconvened later in January.

“Let me be very clear we are committed to further stages of Canberra’s light rail network. We’ve committed in the last election to stage two and my mind is of course turning to stage three and beyond,” Mr Barr said.

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More photos below…

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The red Transport Canberra livery is quite attractive. No advertising will be seen on Canberra’s light rail vehicles (at least in this term of government)

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The physical size of the vehicle was remarked upon by many people present. Parked next to a bus, its size will be quite evident. That is largely because it is designed to carry 200 plus passengers, as opposed to 80 on a bus.

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You don’t want to lose parts!

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The Mitchell depot is still being fitted out.

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Always useful to have a crane in a heavy vehicle depot.

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I think the Chief Minister is asking where the ignition keys are…

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Canberra Liberals support light rail and want a light rail stop in Mitchell

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Members of the Mitchell Traders Association on a WIN TV News Canberra report discussing their case for a light rail station

The Public Transport Association of Canberra are pleased that the Canberra Liberals are now supporting light rail in Canberra. This very welcome about face has occurred following representations by the Mitchell Traders Association to their local members after recently realising a light rail station was not going to be built in Mitchell as part of light rail stage one. The benefits of light rail for residents and businesses along the light rail stage one corridor have been supported at two elections, and it is pleasing that business owners in Mitchell, and the Canberra Liberals, now support better public transport options.

In the ACT Legislative Assembly on Wednesday 19 September, Shadow Transport Minister Andrew Wall MLA will table a motion (below) calling for a light rail station to be constructed in Mitchell, and compensation for businesses affected by light rail construction.

PTCBR are not sure why the motion by the Canberra Liberals motion is being made now, as TCCS Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA has already indicated that a light rail stop in Mitchell will be built (the supporting infrastructure is in place) and that it is a matter of when it will be built.  The Mitchell Traders met with the Minister recently and were also told that a stop would be built.

Light rail will provide tremendous access directly to Mitchell by thousands of potential customers and employees. A light rail stop in Mitchell that can be built between stages one and stage two construction, would benefit everyone.

PTCBR also strongly support a light rail stop in Mitchell, and called for it during consultation several years ago, when the Mitchell Traders, and Canberra Liberals could also have asked for a light rail stop in Mitchell.

Although a stop was discussed in the consultation processes, no Mitchell stop was planned or appeared in the business case. The many new businesses that now front Flemington Road will benefit from a light rail stop, and better integrated bus services to link with the bus routes that already travel through the Mitchell precinct.

Although it is very positive that Mitchell Traders and the Canberra Liberals now support a light rail stop in Mitchell, it is a valuable warning to other parts of Canberra that will see light rail extended to their town centres over the coming decades. The best time to engage in consultation for an infrastructure project is when it is being planned, not when the bulldozers are visible from the window of your business.

Business and commercial and residential property owners along the corridor for the second stage of light rail from Civic, through Parkes and Barton to Woden, are urged to take part in consultation processes and express a view on stop locations and possible routes.

Oddly, the Canberra Liberal motion also calls for more all day parking in Mitchell. More parking seems to be at odds with a call for more public transport. More short term parking would be better for customers than more all day parking.

The motion also asks for compensation for business losses due to light rail construction activity. Although it is unfortunate for any business to suffer a downturn due to infrastructure provision, the benefits that these businesses will accrue from light rail running past their door, will be many.

PTCBR (and its predecessor ACT Light Rail) have always supported a light rail stop in Mitchell, and hope that the Canberra Liberals motion and the ACT Governments existing stated support for a light rail stop will see budget funds provided for a stop to be built in the very near future. Bipartisan support for public transport is always positive.

 


Motion moved by Shadow Transport Minister Andrew Wall on 19 Sep 2017:

MR WALL: To move—That this Assembly:
(1) notes the important contribution that businesses in Mitchell make to the ACT economy and the considerable amount of revenue collected by Government from Mitchell traders through rates, payroll tax and other fees and charges; and
(2) calls on the ACT Government to:
(a) construct a light rail stop at Mitchell;
(b) explore what compensation can be offered to businesses severely
impacted by the construction of light rail;
(c) construct additional all day car parking in Mitchell (especially for
workers on the eastern side of Mitchell);
(d) detail how Mitchell will be serviced by buses following the operation of
light rail;
(e) include Mitchell on a regular schedule for street sweeping;No 31—19 September 2017 541
(f) improve the urban services delivered in Mitchell, such as footpath and
streetlight maintenance; and
(g) undertake consultation with businesses in Mitchell about
implementing urgent minor capital works in the public realm.

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra, join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.

Canberra companies building our light rail

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Construction at the light rail station site in Hibberson Street on 15 Sep 2017

Light rail stage one construction by Canberra Metro is well underway, with tracks being laid and the depot in Mitchell approaching completion. In the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday 14th Sep, Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA read out a list of Canberra companies that are helping to build light rail stage one. She advised the Assembly that:

  • 58% of the contracts for stage one have been let to Canberra owned companies.
  • Of the 137 local contracts, they are shared between 114 local companies.

That is a great result for a project where one of the objectives was to grow local expertise in building light rail.

You can watch the Minister read out a list of local companies to the Assembly at this link.

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra, join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.

Light rail patronage in Sydney exceeds expectations, so let’s plan ahead properly in Canberra

Sydney has recently seen it’s public transport demand boom, with demand exceeding capacity on several popular light rail lines. Forward planning and a coordinated integrated transport planning strategy may have seen this coming, and treasury may have allowed further vehicle to be procured, adding capacity into the network.

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Sydney Morning Herald look at the capacity issues in Sydney

See ‘Why trams on Sydneys booming inner west light rail aren’t running more often‘ here

Long term urban trends and planning policy Australia wide are for high density residential housing adjacent to transport corridors. As well as alleviating resdential housing demand, this is leading to increased public transport patronage, but sometimes one policy area isn’t aligned with another (and this includes treasury).

In Canberra, although we don’t have planning and transport under the same minister, the ministers, senior bureaucrats and planners of both areas are across the issues concerning others. This is a recent change, that only occurred in the last few years (and planning policy and bureaucracy is evolving again…), but is already proving itself with the careful approach taken with light rail stage one.

PTCBR are expecting patronage on Gungahlin to Civic light rail stage one to exceed expectations. That is one of the reasons we are lobbying hard for integrated bus service planning to start ASAP. If our predictions are correct, planing for Woden to Civic light rail stage two must include extra light rail vehicles above those that might have been ordered simply to satisfy current/predicted Woden to Civic patronage. Vehicle ordering lead times are significant, and experience interstate has shown more demand not less.

Let’s enjoy the benefits of dramatic uptake in public transport use, without suffering the disadvantages.

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First rails are laid for Canberra light rail stage one

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Transport Canberra announces rail finally being laid

Since work began on light rail stage one along the Flemington Road and Northourne Avenue corridors, the installation of rail has been seen as a significant milestone. The contract between the ACT Government and Canberra Metro specified rails in the ground in July as a KPI. And they were.

Several test sections were laid in July, and as the workforce assembled for the construction has been building its skillset, the rails are due to be permanently installed from next month. The first images below are of the rails as they appear now, and largely as they will appear when service commences.

The last images are of the initial test sections, and show how they are laid and installed into the surface bed. The surface rust will disappear once light rail vehicles start running along the rails.

(Update with photos from this news article)

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The test track slabs for the light rail have been laid. From left, Mark Jones deputy project director, and Glenn Stockton Canberra Metro CEO, next to the epoxy compound that encases the rail to both secure the rail in the track slot and as part of the stray current management system. Photo: Jamila Toderas
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The epoxy compound both secures the rail in the track slot and helps to manage stray currents. Photo: Jamila Toderas

The following images were recently taken (Aug 2017) of the test sections.

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The following images were taken in July 2017 of the initial test sections.

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early test section

early test section 3

early test section 2

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra, join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.