We have come a long way since Walter Burley Griffin, nearly 100 years ago, envisaged a city with a north-south mass transit spine.
2000 - 2010
Canberra began planning for a more compact city in the early 2000s with the Sustainable Transport Plan (2004) identifying corridors for high capacity public transport.
We started a community conversation about Canberra’s future transport network that included light rail in 2007 and we followed this with a submission to Infrastructure Australia identifying, for the first time, the concept of a city-wide light rail network in our developing activity corridors.
2011 - 2015
A commitment to plan, finance and develop the first stage of Canberra’s light rail network came in 2012. Feasibility studies and investigations followed to inform the first Light Rail Masterplan in 2013.
The rapid growth in Canberra’s north identified the Gungahlin to City corridor as an ideal first stage and in 2013 the Capital Metro Agency was established as a dedicated organisation to plan, design and deliver Canberra’s first light rail route.
Significant consultation activities were undertaken with the Canberra community to develop the urban design elements for stops, seating, artwork and landscaping. While one of the largest Environmental Impact Statements in Canberra’s history was prepared, publicly displayed and submitted to support the management and mitigations of the Gungahlin to City project.
Construction delivery was to be via a Public Private Partnership model and consortia were invited to bid in 2014 on Canberra’s biggest infrastructure project. Four consortia responded and two were shortlisted and invited to submit detailed proposals in 2015.
Design and various approvals were underway in 2015 and a major procurement activity was being overseen by Capital Metro Agency.
2016 - 2019
Canberra Metro, a consortium of Pacific Partnerships, CPB contractors, John Holland, Mitsubishi Corporation and Aberdeen Infrastructure Investment was appointed mid-2016.
The Capital Metro Agency formed part of Transport Canberra and City Services in July 2016 to guide the delivery of light rail as part of an integrated transport network for the city – including future light rail routes.
From late 2016, planning for the light rail network expansion began within Transport Canberra and City Services, while Canberra Metro broke ground for construction of the light rail depot and the 12-kilometre alignment from Gungahlin to the City.
Ongoing planning discussions between Transport Canberra and City Services and the National Capital Authority began as well as community consultation on the potential routes for the expansion of light rail to Woden in mid-2017.
Passing through national land, the next component of light rail to Woden was the subject of a Commonwealth Inquiry in 2018/2019, while planning for Canberra’s fully integrated transport network was underway.
Canberra Metro completed heavy construction on the Gungahlin to City alignment in January 2019 with operational testing underway until April 2019, 32 million dollars under budget. Operations commenced on 20 April 2019, with more than one million passenger boardings in the first three months.
Off the success of Canberra’s first light rail route, now operational, the ACT Government is progressing the next stage of light rail.
Major Projects Canberra formed on 1 July 2019 and is now ready to connect Gungahlin to Woden completing the main north-south spine of Canberra’s light rail network.
Still want more details? You can find out more about Stage 2 of light rail via the links below:
- Stage 2 of Light Rail - Building Light Rail to Woden Video
- Stage 2 of Light Rail - Building Light Rail to Woden summary (PDF 2MB)
- Light Rail Stage 2A Business Case (redacted)
To learn more about the project to raise London Circuit, including to read its redacted business case, please visit the City Renewal Authority website.
Light rail is a modern version of a tram that can operate at low speeds on streets and at high speeds in dedicated corridors. Light rail operates at road level and is electric, receiving power through overhead wires or recharge when braking.
Light rail has a relatively small turning radius, can operate up steep gradients and can integrate into the community.
The maximum continuous service speed is 70km/h. There will be 300+ structures and 24km of wire .
You can also find out more about using light rail.
With a target to commence construction by 2016, a range of reports and studies were prepared to advance the design and procurement. A comprehensive Environment Impact Statement was prepared to support the planning approval process for the project.
The ACT Government sought Expressions of Interest in 2014 for the delivery of light rail with four consortia responding. Two shortlisted bids were invited to submit proposals in 2015, and in January 2016 Canberra Metro was announced as the preferred bidder.
Capital Metro Agency became part of Transport Canberra in 2016 to guide the delivery of light rail as part of an integrated transport network for the city.
Canberra Metro, the preferred consortium, was appointed to build, maintain and operate the first stage of light rail for Canberra.
With more than 220 years of combined experience in systems engineering, light rail operations and maintenance, and providing 2.2 billion passenger journeys each year across 14 countries, Canberra can be confident that the consortium will deliver this transformational project.
The Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Canberra Metro allows the ACT Government to draw upon the expertise and technical infrastructural knowledge of high class consortium, and support Canberra’s trade, investment and local business.
The delivery model for the extension of Canberra’s north-south light rail network spine from Alinga Street to Commonwealth Park will be through the extension of the existing contract with Canberra Metro.
Seeking to partner with Canberra Metro for the next stage of light rail means passengers will be able to take a single journey from Gungahlin to Commonwealth Park without having to change light rail vehicles at Alinga Street.
The ACT Government will work with Canberra Metro to undertake early investigation and design works for the project.
Upon finalisation of a full scope of work, the ACT Government will seek procurement of this work with Canberra Metro. This will, at a minimum, include an integrated package consisting of the design, construction, operations and maintenance of the project.