Stage 2A of the Canberra light rail network will run wire-free from the Alinga Street station to Commonwealth Park.
ACT Transport Minister Chris Steel confirmed the first stage of light rail to Woden would add 1.7km of wire-free track from the station, along the western side of London Circuit and onto Commonwealth Avenue. Grassed tracks have also been proposed for the Commonwealth Avenue median.
“Running wire-free through London Circuit will mean a narrower track built in the middle of the road, taking up less space as light rail will be running in the road median,” Mr Steel said.
“As light rail stage 2A turns on to Commonwealth Avenue, wire-free running will also ensure that the heritage vistas along Commonwealth Avenue are maintained.”
Light rail vehicles will be fitted with energy storage capabilities, as well as regenerative braking, to allow for wire-free operation.
Mr Steel said the progress for stage 2A had progressed “as expected” through to the next stage of the Commonwealth approvals process, and defended the ACT Government’s decision to split stage two of the network, from the City to Woden, into two phases.
“This decision from the Federal Government reinforces our choice to deliver light rail to Woden in two stages. The process of assessment for stage 2A means we can get on with the job of extending light rail to Woden sooner,” Mr Steel said.
“We always expected that an extensive EIS [environmental impact statement] process would be required for the more complex stage 2B extension through the Parliamentary Triangle under the Commonwealth environmental approval process.”
Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) chair Ryan Hemsley welcomed the progress on the approvals processes, but called on the ACT Opposition to outline their plans for light rail, in light of the approaching election later this year.
In a letter to Mr Steel, Shadow Transport Minister Candice Burch requested the public release of detailed costings of the project, prior to the signing of contacts and the commencement of work. (The Canberra Liberals were asked about their position on light rail heading into the election but no response was received prior to print deadline.)
The ACT Government has also announced changes to the public transport ticketing system, with passengers to be able to pay for bus and light rail fares with credit cards to tap on and off, or by using their phones or smart devices. They’ve also announced a new app to provide real time travel information and updates with GPS data.