What should happen with light rail?
We have a growing airport situated just eight kilometres from Civic. It should be easily and quickly accessible via public transport. Calls for a light rail line connecting Civic to the airport date back to the year 2000, with the city-to-airport route included on a shortlist of potential Stage Two options released by the ACT Government in 2016.
With the number of passengers using Canberra Airport expected to almost double in the next five years, the airport should be added to our growing light rail network as soon as possible. A light rail line extending from the CBD along Constitution Avenue would connect Civic with residents of Reid and Campbell and the working populations at ASIO Headquarters, Russell Defence Precinct, ADFA, Duntroon, Campbell Office Precinct, the new UNSW Canberra Campus and the Canberra Airport commercial and aviation precinct, equating to a total working population of up to 40,000 along the route.
The line from Civic to the airport could then be extended at the earliest opportunity to form a longer Eastern Loop passing through Fyshwick, Manuka, Kingston, Barton and Parkes before connecting with the planned Stage 2B line. This would improve the connectivity of Fyshwick’s 15,5000-strong working population while also drawing CIT Fyshwick into the innovation district emerging from the city. The Fyshwick Business Association’s November 2022 proposal offers a sensible plan for completing this project in a cost-neutral way by establishing a light rail corridor along the old heavy rail line and redeveloping either side of it to cater for approximately 8,000 to 9,000 new residential dwellings.
All new light rail lines should be accompanied by separated active travel links.
The Federal Government's new requirement that nationally significant infrastructure projects be funded through a 50:50 shared investment with states/territories combines with the ACT Government's relatively limited revenue base to create a new fiscal constraint around large and costly infrastructure projects in Canberra. Given this context, if the new light rail lines cannot be constructed within a realistic timeframe and budget – both to meet the ACT's growing needs and to realise our decarbonisation commitments – alternative public transport solutions could be explored both along and supporting the proposed routes. This could include bus rapid transit (BRT) and smaller electric on-demand buses.