According to the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), the URS cost estimates of $600-$860M for a 13km light rail network connecting Gungahlin and Civic should be re-examined.
Including trams, the Tourism and Transport Forum prices a typical light rail network between $20 and $40M/km making the Canberra estimates of $66M/km about double the cost of an average light rail network.
Bryan Nye, ARA CEO, said Canberra was intended to have light rail and so the costs simply don’t make sense.
“Canberra was designed for a light rail network and so it is surprising that these estimates are so exorbitant,” said Mr Nye.
“The URS figures would make the 13km light rail link one of the most expensive in the world and puts the costs of a Canberra light rail network at about double the cost of the average light rail system.”
Light rail networks already in operation have been significantly less costly to build.
“Portland Oregon’s 10km light rail network cost $350 million and now has an operating cost of $1.68 per person which is much lower than Oregon’s bus costs of $2.73 per rider,” continued Mr Nye.
“Clearly global experiences are being ignored and so I urge the ACT Government to release the data behind the URS cost estimates.”
Light Rail could provide many long term benefits for Canberra.
“One tram can move more than 10,000 people per hour in the equivalent of one lane of traffic that could otherwise move 800 cars,” continued Mr Nye.
“By using renewable energy, trams have the ability to produce zero emissions, helping to lower pollution and noise levels.
Canberra lacks the benefits of the public transport systems enjoyed in Melbourne and Sydney.
“As the Nation’s Capital, the ACT Government should be positioning Canberra as a vibrant and exciting urban environment,” said Mr Nye.
“If the ACT Government is to improve Canberra’s appeal as a place to live and visit, it must improve the public transport available within Canberra and the light rail system planned by the Griffins will do just that,” concluded Mr Nye.