AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Canberra light rail gets green light

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> Capital Metro, the light rail network destined for Australia’s capital, has received final approval from the ACT Government. </span> <p>Simon Corbell, the state minister for the Capital Metro, announced the news to more than 300 business representatives at an industry briefing on Monday.</p><p>The government will begin the expression of interest process for developers on October 31.</p><p>“The first stage of Canberra’s light rail network will be delivered as a public private partnership, delivering cost certainty and minimising risk to the ACT Government,” Corbell said.</p><p>Corbell said the cost of the project will be determined by a competitive market process. The government estimates, however, a capital cost of $610 million, plus a $173 million contingency.</p><p>“This estimate is consistent with the previous estimate of $614 million, adjusted for escalation and risk,” he said.</p><p>The government will also release a business case for the project on October 31, a move which Corbell described as “unusual”. But by releasing the business case, he said, the government would uphold its desire to stay transparent throughout the project process.</p><p>“This government is backing better public transport, backing infrastructure investment, backing the revitalisation of Northbourne Avenue corridor, backing jobs and tackling congestion.”</p><p>He described PPP as a ‘commonsense’ decision, which will provide the best value outcome by making use of proven expertise, opening up the project to experienced operators and financiers.</p><p>Australasian Railway Association chief executive Bryan Nye attended the briefing, and was pleased with the news.</p><p>“Today is a clear reflection of how much interest this project has generated not only amongst the general public or politically, but that local, national and international industry is keen to learn more and hear how this project is planned to progress,” Nye said.</p><p>“It is clear that the ACT Government has an ambitious vision for the future of Canberra, one that will unlock the potential of Northbourne Avenue through urban redevelopment and will stimulate the local economy, providing employment opportunities and better community interaction.”</p><p>A 12km double track route is planned from Gungahlin to the City for Capital Metro. 13 stops are mapped out along the way, with a service running every 10 minutes on weekdays and 6 minutes during peak periods.</p><p>The total journey is expected to take 25 minutes end to end and commuters will be able to use the existing ‘MyWay’ smart ticketing system which will integrate with the Action Bus network, according to the government.</p><p>“Canberra is Australia’s most car dependant city,” Nye said. “The introduction of light rail will transport Canberra into the 21st century and provide an alternative transport option for Canberrans to embrace public transport.”</p>