Heavy Rail in Canberra

 
  PDCL Chief Train Controller

Hi all, was wondering if anyone had thought about introducing heavy rail (as in suburban or metro style rail) as part of Canberra's transport system.  I don't believe there has been any official consideration of the idea (except maybe in the 1960's when the Y-plan envisioned a city of 1.5 to 2 million) so I suppose it's more personal musings.

I understand that currently the population at about 350,000 (incl. Queanbeyan) is a little small to justify it, but from my observation, a city of about 500,000+ seems to be line where these sort of systems become practical. Given Canberra is only 150,000 short of that number, the equivalent of finishing Gungahlin and Molonglo Valley towns, as well as starting construction on a new town at Kowen Forest as is slated.

Given the rate at which these towns seem to be getting built (about 30years each) that would mean that around 2040 Canberra would likely have grown to around 500,000 people and support thus some network of this type.

I suppose the other factor to consider that given Canberreans love the city form for what it is currently and don't want excessive sprawl or increased building density, then increasingly Canberra as a city will become reliant on the region for housing.  This can already be seen in terms of people commuting from Yass, Goulburn and even as far as Cooma.  I have heard the odd call (generally from the Business Chamber) to introduce a 4 train per day (2 morning peak, 2 evening peak) from/to Goulburn.

So sorry for a slightly long question, but I think there's a lot to be set out. Basically if we take 2050 as a date to have a decent network running by, is it feasible, what sort of network would it be and where would it serve?

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  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
The focus for Canberra seems to be LR, although actually getting commitment to build one. To build HR in Canberra would probably be fairly expensive as greenfield HR will be grade or boundry seperated from road traffic and hence lots of bridges, viaducts or tunnels for which the cost is prohibitive on a small city. Probably $1B per few km's, depending on brides etc required

Gold Coast is probably a good comparison to Canberra in this regard and GC is getting LR with HR the mainly being built for connection to/from Brisbane.

Regards
Shane
  drwaddles In need of a breath mint

Location: Newcastle
Hi all, was wondering if anyone had thought about introducing heavy rail (as in suburban or metro style rail) as part of Canberra's transport system.
"PDCL"


No, nobody has ever thought of this.
  PDCL Chief Train Controller

The focus for Canberra seems to be LR, although actually getting commitment to build one. To build HR in Canberra would probably be fairly expensive as greenfield HR will be grade or boundry seperated from road traffic and hence lots of bridges, viaducts or tunnels for which the cost is prohibitive on a small city. Probably $1B per few km's, depending on brides etc required

Gold Coast is probably a good comparison to Canberra in this regard and GC is getting LR with HR the mainly being built for connection to/from Brisbane.

Regards
Shane
"RTT_Rules"


Yeah done a bit of digging over the LR proposal, seems to miss a few minor things, you know like the airport which aside from airport traffic is meant to be an employment hub of 30,000+ workers by the end of the decade.  Queanbeyan is also ignored, which seems ludicrous given that traffic between there and Canberra banks into a jam every morning, the only place in the city to consistently do so (well excepting the incomplete Fyswick bypass which I believe is soon to be opened).  Both are shoved in the "at some future date we'll consider it" category when realistically they should be priorities (IMHO).  The proposed routes are somewhat lacking in other areas as well, but those are my two biggest issues with it.

To take the Gold Coast example you mention, the GC does have that HR spine for the major regional links (Airport, Deakin Uni and Brissy), but also for the LR to leverage off.  Canberra doesn't have this as yet, and better regional links with, as I mentioned, Goulburn, Yass and Cooma are going to need HR, I suspect demand (particularly to Goulburn) will justify this in a 10 or 20 year time frame, rather than the 40yrs I was considering earlier.

I suppose the thrust of this discussion is intentionally a little speculative, but given the time scales I'm talking about, now's not a bad time to start thinking about what will be needed soonish.  I'm interested to hear what form people think an enhanced Canberra and region PT network should take.
  darkmage35 Station Master

Location: Canberra
Queanbeyan is also ignored, which seems ludicrous given that traffic between there and Canberra banks into a jam every morning, the only place in the city to consistently do so (well excepting the incomplete Fyswick bypass which I believe is soon to be opened).  Both are shoved in the "at some future date we'll consider it" category when realistically they should be priorities (IMHO).  The proposed routes are somewhat lacking in other areas as well, but those are my two biggest issues with it.
PDCL
Yeah, Canberrans seem to like to pretend that Queanbeyan doesn't exist. I'm not entirely sure why. I'd speculate that the absurd pricing of the only buses to run between Canberra and Queanbeyan might have something to do with the traffic.

I need to read the light rail proposal, but at the moment the only heavy rail I can see being practical is an extension of the Kingston line through to the CBD, where it could interchange with a hub of light rail and buses better. Combined with using Goulburn as a place to commute from, this might solve the Queanbeyan issue even without running light rail all the way over there.
  xke9600hp Train Controller

Yeah, Canberrans seem to like to pretend that Queanbeyan doesn't exist. I'm not entirely sure why. I'd speculate that the absurd pricing of the only buses to run between Canberra and Queanbeyan might have something to do with the traffic.

I need to read the light rail proposal, but at the moment the only heavy rail I can see being practical is an extension of the Kingston line through to the CBD, where it could interchange with a hub of light rail and buses better. Combined with using Goulburn as a place to commute from, this might solve the Queanbeyan issue even without running light rail all the way over there.
darkmage35
Neither heavy nor light rail are suitable for Canberra - the cost of establishing either system would be ludicrous and the far cheaper and more flexible option would be to concentrate on the existing bus system - even if it meant making bus lanes instead of railway lines on the required routes.   I don't know who is pushing the light rail concept but it can't possibly be based on any common sense or logic. It will never happen unless of course the Australian taxpayers would like to fund and gift Canberra one - maybe it would be a good place to operate the left over Melbourne W class as a tourist system.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
The ACT Labor Govt is a minority Govt who rely on the support of 1 green member to govern.
See if you can guess who is pushing light rail.
  Fireman Dave Chief Commissioner

Location: Shh, I'm hiding
I believe that (if it's properly implemented) light rail can be a sensible proposition for Canberra. If it was put in from town center to town center, Belconnen-Gungahlin-Civic-Woden-Tuggeranong, with very few intermediate stops (basically the old 333 bus route) it should work. How ever, considering the clowns running the ACT it will end up winding around from suburb to suburb, stopping every 100m and this isn't practical.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
If the line had been kept to Civic a suburban heavy rail system may have worked. It's a shame that Canberra doesn't have one. Perhaps it would have happened if Canberra had been built a few decades earlier.
  xke9600hp Train Controller

I believe that (if it's properly implemented) light rail can be a sensible proposition for Canberra. If it was put in from town center to town center, Belconnen-Gungahlin-Civic-Woden-Tuggeranong, with very few intermediate stops (basically the old 333 bus route) it should work. How ever, considering the clowns running the ACT it will end up winding around from suburb to suburb, stopping every 100m and this isn't practical.
Fireman Dave
There is no way it can ever be made economically viable:  Even the Greens couldn't be that loony!!
Cost of infrastructure - capital purchase or the rails, setting them in a new engineered permanent way, cost of the electric overhead system , substations, poles etc.  Cost of a single modern tram unit (in the millions??), few expensive trams and no redundancy for broken down/collision damaged units,  restricted routes, crew training/corporate knowledge, maintenance depots, maintenance staff - higher order of engineering expertise required.
Cost of the power to run it.
Conflict with existing roads - crossings etc


vs

Existing roads - relatively easy to maintain - fill the potholes etc
Busses are relatively cheap, even the big swing centre ones
Existing bus driving expertise
Existing maintenance expertise and infrastructure
If dedicated routes down the nature strip of N'bourne Ave required, then make them bus lanes (like the concrete bus lane system in SA)
Unlimited flexibility with routes
Hire/poach as many bus drivers as you need from surrounding districts

Heavy rail in Canberra (and mostly in the rest of Australia) is a demonstrable dismal failure and has been since the introduction of the motor car.
Existing heavy rail Q'bn to Canberra - no services and no demand and of no known use - expensive maintenance of useless infrastructure and wages for persons who have no real job.

What should rightly happen to existing ACT heavy rail:
Rip it up from Q'bn onwards, turn the existing prime property into high density housing, hurriedly and shonkily slapped together by greedy developers and flog it all off at a huge premium to unsuspecting buyers - throw in a few underground carparks below lake level and charge extortionate rates for the ACT govt coffers.  There is no doubt this will happen, just wait for the current Kingston Flawshore development to be completed.

Forget heavy or light rail in Canberra - I'd still like to know who is pushing this madness and who has some commercial gain to make from it.
  konkos Assistant Commissioner

Location: Live next door to half-bar
I/we used to leave in the reigon since the mid 50s and guess what, we moved out a few years ago.  Canberra is not a place we call home now and these and other reasons.  We have watched transportgrow to what it is today and quite frankly it's still a joke.  The working poor pay for these services.  Canberra was also designed to have light rail but somehow each Govts including the Feds lost sight and purpose behind it.  Yes heavy rail is lost and light rail seems it won't get up, but that's progress.  Costs is the killer and then educate the public, the unions to switch over with a such a small population  - it's just not going to happen.  
konkos
  ljayvee6 Locomotive Fireman

Location: Near the Apm Siding
Light or Heavy rail in Canberra is not going to happen.
Here are my reasons:

  • There is no demand, even for the existing Q'bean-Canberra heavy Railway.

  • Not economically viable

  • Too many roads and houses in the way.



  • Just plain crazy!


Many other people have stated other reasons why Canberra doesn’t need rail.
  ljayvee6 Locomotive Fireman

Location: Near the Apm Siding
I believe that (if it's properly implemented) light rail can be a sensible proposition for Canberra. If it was put in from town center to town center, Belconnen-Gungahlin-Civic-Woden-Tuggeranong, with very few intermediate stops (basically the old 333 bus route) it should work. How ever, considering the clowns running the ACT it will end up winding around from suburb to suburb, stopping every 100m and this isn't practical.
Fireman Dave

Great idea!
  SA_trains Deputy Commissioner

Location: ACT
Those that have ever seen Burley Griffens plans would have seen that rail was meant to end in what is now known as Civic and then continue onto Yass. Obviously, this never happened though I do believe a short branch line made it over to near Duntroon. This was well be fore the Lake existed.

That said, heavy or light rail in Canberra at 500K persons in some time in the future is still not sensible.

Aside from the fact that current and projected growth population densities are just too low, the design of the city just does not fit with a sensible public transport routing.

Take the suggested 333 route. Yes I guess you could have a light rail from Tuggeranong, down Athlone Drive to Woden, then down Adelaide Avenue into civic moderately "easily", the problem is, it would still be reliant on feeder services. If you have to spend 20-30 minutes on a bus getting to tugg or woden interchanges, then another 15 into civic, you may as well drive! Similar story for north side. So great for those within easy reach to the tram line, but for the vast majority of others in suburbia... it is a little, "so what".

Aside from that, as others have said, buses are so much more flexible than a rail option. Can go anywhere and easy to swap around. The light rail infrastructure is all fixed. If Canberra was a high density city like an european city, it would actually make sense, but sadly, it is not.

My thoughts anyway.
  wxtre Chief Train Controller

They should extended the existing rail-line underground from Canberra station to the CBD. They could have a parliament and CBD station.
  georges Train Controller

Those that have ever seen Burley Griffens plans would have seen that rail was meant to end in what is now known as Civic and then continue onto Yass. Obviously, this never happened though I do believe a short branch line made it over to near Duntroon. This was well be fore the Lake existed.
SA_trains

Wikipedia refers to the bridge carrying the line from Kingston to Civic. That bridge, over the Molonglo River, was ruined in a flood in 1922 and never rebuilt:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canberra_railway_station#Kingston_to_Civic_Railway

That line passed close to Duntroon. There are some early Canberra photos and diagrams , including the badly damaged bridge and Civic platform, here:
http://narrabundah.org.au/?page_id=926

That site also has a link to a very extensive, slightly dated, history of ACT railways in the twentieth century : http://www.engineer.org.au/chapter02.html

According to that reference the first train arrived in Canberra on 25 May 1914, a goods train drawn by locomotive 1210. Canberra Railway Museum recently commemorated the centenary of that event.

There are two photos of the original formation near Civic at:
http://nswrail.net/locations/show.php?name=NSW:Canberra+%28Civic%29
The images seem to have been taken somewhere near the intersection of Amaroo and Coranderrk Streets.

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