Work to extend the light rail network towards Woden is expected to begin as early as next year after the ACT Government formally approved the business case for light rail stage 2A from Alinga Street station to Commonwealth Park.
Announced on Tuesday 10 September, the stage 2A extension of the current network is 1.7km in length and will add three new stops at City West, City South and Commonwealth Park, and four new light rail vehicles.
The Government will also be raising London Circuit – providing a new southern gateway for the CBD. In a statement, the Government said connecting London Circuit at the same level as Commonwealth Avenue would enable significantly better walking, cycling and public transport links between the CBD and the Acton Waterfront. This linking project was first foreshadowed in the City to the Lake plan.
The Public Transport Association of Canberra welcomed the announcement, as did the ACT Greens with leader Shane Rattenbury keen to see the network grow.
“We don’t want to see any delays; the Greens want light rail to reach Woden as soon as possible to bring great public transport and all the quality urban renewal opportunities that come with it,” he said.
Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins was also positive about the decision: “Major projects such as light rail have the potential to create jobs, support local industry and grow the ACT economy.”
“The MBA has recently written to Infrastructure Australia requesting that light rail stage 2A be supported as a priority infrastructure project,” Mr Hopkins said.
“Today’s (10 September) announcement should demonstrate to the Federal Government that the ACT is laying the groundwork for a long-term infrastructure plan, and be a starting point for encouraging more federal infrastructure funding for the Territory.”
However, Shadow Transport Minister Candice Burch suggested Canberrans “are still in the dark about how much this is going to cost and whether this is the best route option”.
ACT Minister for Transport Chris Steel said that the release of the stage 2A business case marks the start of contract negotiations with Canberra Metro to deliver the project.
“By beginning work on stage 2A, we are keeping the knowledge and skills from the successful delivery of stage 1 in Canberra while we continue to work on the approvals through the Parliamentary Triangle to Woden.”
The ACT Government aims to start stage 2B, linking Commonwealth Park to the Woden Town Centre, once these approvals have been granted.