Public Transport Association of Canberra pleased that light rail stage two can now proceed through the Parliamentary Zone, after the JSCNCET issues its report on Commonwealth approvals for ACT light rail

IMG_20180625_121449366.jpgThe Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) has welcomed today’s release of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories’ (JSCNET) report on Commonwealth and Parliamentary approvals for the proposed stage 2 of the ACT light rail project, arguing that the report provides much-needed certainty around the second stage of Canberra’s most important infrastructure project.

Download the full JSCNCET report on ‘Commonwealth approvals for ACT light rail’ here

Read the PTCBR submission to the JSCNCET Inquiry here

The PTCBR made a submission to this inquiry and gave evidence at a public hearing earlier in the year, addressing the heritage and approvals process.

“We are happy see the committee make a number of common-sense recommendations around the design and approvals processes for light rail stage 2” Mr Damien Haas, Chair of the PTCBR said.

“The timely release of the committee’s report means that the ACT Government can get on with the job of delivering the crucial next stage of Canberra’s city-shaping light rail network”.

The six recommendations made in the JSCNET report cover a range of issues, including heritage, urban design and approvals processes. Recommendation 2 of the report outlines a two-stage Commonwealth approval process for light rail stage 2, involving:

  1. An amendment to the National Capital Plan; and
  2. NCA Works Approval and other Commonwealth approval processes, including Parliamentary Approval.

The PTCBR agrees with the committee that this is the most appropriate way forward, and will continue to strongly advocate for light rail stage 2 throughout the remainder of the public consultation processes.

Mr Haas said “Importantly the Committees report means that the NCA and the ACT Government can resume working on a light rail route through the Parliamentary Zone that can serve the people of Canberra, service national institutions and satisfy heritage concerns.”

“When people visiting Canberra in future years travel by light rail to visit the nations treasured institutions, they will be more able to appreciate how beautiful our capital is, than focusing on the road and looking for a carparking space.”

The PTCBR look forward to the next steps for light rail stage two:

  • the Governments response to the report
  • a route through the Parliamentary Zone being identified by the NCA and ACT Government,
  • a National Capital Plan amendment prepared, and
  • the business case for Woden to Civic light rail finalised,
  • followed by work commencing on extending our light rail network.

Damien Haas is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the regions peak public transport lobby group representing Canberra’s public transport users.

ACT Government announce City to Woden light rail planning well underway

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Media release from TCCS Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA:

City to Woden light rail planning well underway

Planning for light rail from the City to Woden is well underway, with the ACT Government releasing a mid‑year update on stage 2.

The ACT Government is committed to constructing light rail between Gungahlin and Woden via the City, Parkes and Barton as the backbone of its vision for a city-wide integrated public transport network. The government reaffirmed its commitment to developing light rail stage 2 with $12.5 million invested in progressing the project through the 2018-19 financial year.

The ACT Government expects to make a final investment decision in respect of stage 2 once greater clarity is achieved on the Commonwealth Government’s support for the project and any associated planning requirements.

Minister for Transport and City Services Meegan Fitzharris said the next steps for the project included developing the design in close consultation with the National Capital Authority (NCA), making planning and environmental submissions, and undertaking further community and stakeholder consultation on the project. The project will also be considered by a Commonwealth Parliamentary committee inquiry in the coming days.

“Light rail from the Gungahlin to Woden will create a north-south public transport spine for Canberra, significantly improving transport accessibility in our region. Stage 2 from the City to Woden via Barton will cater for growing population and employment adjacent to the light rail corridor.

“The ACT Government is acutely aware of the national significance of many locations along the City to Woden corridor, particularly within the Parliamentary Zone.

“The design of the light rail alignment, stops and other features is being carefully managed to respect and enhance the heritage value of these locations.

“For example, as well as wire-free running, thought is being given to the simplified stops near landmarks such as Old Parliament House to reflect this iconic location. We are also considering other elements such as grassed tracks, similar to that in operation in Adelaide, to conceal the rail within the landscape of the national boulevard.

“Windsor Walk is also proposed to be revitalised to become a central linear park and continuous pedestrian spine connecting transport facilities, offices, a proposed retail plaza and landscaped recreational areas.

“Light rail will also revitalise the Woden Town Centre, by enhancing amenity and safety, improving access to the shopping district and employment hubs and increasing property values.

“Light rail stage 2 supports the revitalisation of suburbs along the corridor, creating more vibrant, community-focused, active and modern precincts.”

Minister Fitzharris said the ACT Government’s investment decision will be guided by a final business case for the project in coming months.

“Our business case can be finalised once we’ve worked through approval processes with the NCA and Commonwealth Government. However initial costings have been developed and are currently anticipated to be in the region of $1.3 to $1.6 billion.

“This is commensurate with the original cost estimates for the first stage of light rail, escalated to future dollars and reflecting additional costs associated with bridges, wire-free running, additional light rail vehicles and other factors.

“At this stage, we are looking to achieve approval of the business case in 2018-19, procurement in 2019-20, before construction would ultimately commence in 2020-21. Of course our timeframes will depend on Commonwealth support for the project, and associated planning requirements.”

Minister Fitzharris said the Joint Standing Committee Inquiry currently underway provides the ACT Government with an exciting opportunity to explain how light rail benefits Canberrans while supporting the Commonwealth Government’s national objectives and plans for the Parliamentary Zone.

“Light rail from the City to Woden will not only enhance access to the precinct, but will serve to demonstrate the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to our cities through its support of a modern, well integrated mass transit solution, helping to make our nation’s capital an even more liveable and sustainable city.

“The ACT Government will continue to work closely with the Commonwealth to progress these planning approvals,” said Minister Fitzharris.

The full mid-year update can be accessed from the TCCS website at: http://www.transport.act.gov.au/news-and-events/items/june-2018/city-to-woden-light-rail-provides-for-canberras-future

Statement Ends

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PTCBR submission to the Federal government on Woden light rail stage two

act lr hand drawnThe federal government Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories is holding an inquiry into the ACT Governments light rail stage two project, from Civic to Woden via the Parliamentary Triangle.

The PTCBR have made a submission encouraging the Committee to recommend that the project proceed, and supporting the strong working relationship between the National Capital Authority and the ACT Government.

Read the PTCBR submission here

In launching the new inquiry, Chair of the Committee Mr Ben Morton MP said, “the land around the Federal Parliament is an important space for all Australians, and it is therefore appropriate that the Parliament has a role in ensuring that any proposals for change preserve this significance. The inquiry will also provide the ACT Government with an early indication of the Parliament’s view of its proposal.”

The Joint Standing Committee page on the Inquiry is here

The full terms of reference are:

The Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories will inquire into and report on the development of stage two of the Australian Capital Territory light rail project, with regard to:

  1. the relevant parliamentary approval processes for works within the Parliamentary zone;
  2. the roles of the National Capital Authority and the Australian Government, and the associated approval processes;
  3. possible impacts on the Parliamentary zone and Parliamentary precincts, including any impacts on the heritage values and national importance of the Parliamentary zone and our national capital; and
  4. the identification of matters that may be of concern prior to formal parliamentary or Australian Government consideration of the project; and
  5. any other relevant matter the Committee wishes to examine.

Read the PTCBR media release on this Inquiry here

Media reports are here and here and here. The common theme is that Canberra Liberal Senator Zed Seselja believes that light rail along Commonwealth Avenue would create some form of commuting disaster. Senator Seselja has opposed light rail from the outset. It should be noted that Senator Seselja is not a member of the Committee assessing the light rail project.

This public transport project was supported at the 2016 ACT Assembly election, and community consultation since then has resulted in a route design that travels through Parkes and Barton, serving national attractions and many federal government departments and agencies. This second stage of light rail will link up the many accommodation providers located along Northbourne Avenue and around EPIC, enabling visitors to the  nations capital to visit national attractions, and Parliament itself, by public transport.

The PTCBR strongly believe that it is the best public transport option for ACT residents, employees in the Parliamentary zone, and business and tourism visitors to Canberra.

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

PTCBR encourage the federal government to support better public transport for the nations capital

Media release by the PTCBR May 11 2018
PTCBR encourage the federal government to support better public transport for the nations capital

The Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) are disappointed that Federal Parliament has decided to interfere in the provision of better public transport for Canberrans.

While all infrastructure projects should be subjected to scrutiny, the PTCBR would be disappointed if the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories went beyond the inquiries terms of reference and politicised a standard public transport project.

The ACT Government and the NCA have collaborated closely since 2016 on this project, and now in 2018 when the business case should be out and tenders being prepared, the process has been delayed by an unusual intervention by federal parliament into urban public transport.

The PTCBR hope that Prime Minister Turnbull, a well known public transport user and supporter, can persuade his fellow parliamentarians to support and endorse this project.

It will improve the transport options for all Canberrans, and open up the national attractions in the Parliamentary Triangle to all Australians that visit the nations capital city.

The lack of investment by the federal government into Canberra’s public transport is a topic that should be discussed, instead parliament decide to investigate a project wholly funded by the citizens of Canberra.

We hope that the inquiry concludes quickly, that the committee is satisfied with the work performed to date by the NCA and the ACT Government, and that the business case for Canberras second stage of light rail can be released as soon as possible.

The PTCBR hope that this process is not used to politicise a project that has been supported by Canberra voters at two consecutive ACT Territory elections.

Damien Haas is the Chair of the Public Transport Association of Canberra, the Canberra regions peak public transport lobby group.