The Canberra light rail stage two project is a proposed extension of Canberra’s light rail network from the city centre to Woden in Canberra, Australia. The line will create a north-to-south mass transit spine for the city by connecting its major education, entertainment, healthcare and government hubs.
The extension project was approved by the Australian Federal Government in February 2021, following the successful stage one of the Canberra light rail line that served more than one million passengers within the first three months. Stage one between Gungahlin and Canberra’s City centre began operations in April 2019.
The proposed project is being undertaken by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government and will be developed in two phases, stage 2A and stage 2B.
The complete light rail network includes stage one, stage two and stage three from Belconnen to Civic, connecting the airport through the Russell defence precinct, and stage four linking Woden and Tuggeranong Centre via Mawson.
The light rail network will provide integrated land use and transportation system to connect residential areas with important commercial and education precincts with fast light rail. It will also reduce congestion and enhance liveability in the region. Construction on Stage 2A is expected to begin between 2021 and 2022, and completion is anticipated in 2024.
Canberra light rail stage two project background
The ACT light rail master plan was released in 2015 and included stage one and stage two as well as future rail corridors. The potential routes for stage two were identified in 2017 and the preferred one, the Woden-to-city corridor, was selected in 2018 after considering existing technical limitations, public feedback and the regional government’s vision for the city’s development.
The corridor will also allow the government to explore potential infrastructure investments in the south and their synergies with the light rail system. In July 2019, the planning approval for stage two was split into two phases to simplify the approval for the construction of light rail through the Parliamentary Triangle.
Canberra light rail stage two details
The light rail stage two line will begin from Canberra’s central business district (CBD) over Lake Burley Griffin, around the Parliamentary zone and through Deakin before terminating at Woden.
The 10.7km-long line with 12 new stops will be an extension to stage one. The stage 2A line will run from the CBD to the Commonwealth Park covering 1.7km while the 9km-long stage 2B line will connect the Commonwealth Park with Woden.
Works have already started for stage 2A covering the route from the current terminus at Alinga Street to the northern edge of the lake. The line will have 1.7km of double track and three new stations with stops at City South, City West and Commonwealth Park with the capacity to accommodate an additional 3,000 passengers a day. The project will also cover the expansion of the Mitchel depot, the construction of a bridge over Parkes Way, the addition of four new light rail vehicles and a wire-free track design, among other improvements.
The surrounding areas will be refined by planting trees while traffic signals will be installed and roads will be improved. The stop at City West is planned to be located at the entrance of the Australian National University (ANU) and provide an integrated mobility system.
The stage 2B line will include nine light rail stops and wire-free running through the Parliamentary Triangle. It will also involve the construction of a bridge over Lake Burley Griffin, new bridges over intersecting roadways and new pedestrian bridges.
Financing for light rail stage two
The ACT Government allocated A$24m ($18.6m) for the design and construction of stage two through its 2020 jobs and economic recovery plan for 2020-21 with provisions for another A$312m ($242m).
The project received A$29m ($22.5m) from the 2020-21 ACT budget with provisions for additional funding. It received an amount of A$1.3m ($1m) to study the feasibility of extending the line from Woden to Mawson.
The stage 2A project received A$132.5m ($102.3m) from the federal government in February 2021. The ACT government has committed A$61m ($47.3m) to date.
Canberra Metro, a consortium of CPB contractors, John Holland, Pacific Partnerships, Mitsubishi and Aberdeen Infrastructure Investment, was appointed for stage one of the Canberra light rail project in 2016. It is also in talks with the ACT Government for stage two of the light rail system.
Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) is providing planning for the stage two alignment.
Arup partnered with Major Projects Canberra for the design, planning approvals, tendering and procurement stages of the project. It completed a preliminary environmental assessment (PEA) on Stage 2A and will also take part in compliance and approvals under federal and territorial legislation as well as consultation with the National Capital Authority (NCA).
Rail Planning Services (RPS) was contracted by Arup to assist with the definition design submission.
Western Management Consultants (WMC) was engaged by CPB John Holland JV for project management and construction management services.