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Canberra's light rail project picks up $200m Federal Labor commitment for Woden extension
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ACT government announces preferred stage two light rail route
Federal Labor has committed $200 million to stage two of the ACT's light rail project — running from the city centre past Parliament House and on to Woden — if the party wins the upcoming federal election.
Planning for stage two of the controversial project is currently underway, with an estimated cost between $1.3 - $1.6 billion — significantly more than the $707 million price tag for stage one.
The increase in cost was largely due to the added complexity of stage two, running wireless in some areas and crossing Lake Burley Griffin.
The exact route has yet to be finally determined, with a federal parliamentary committee last week endorsing a more direct route past Parliament House over an earlier proposal that would have taken the service through Barton.
The ACT Government has conceded the more direct route via State Circle was the most likely option to be approved.
Labor's Assistant Treasurer and member for the ACT seat of Fenner, Andrew Leigh, said the $200 million commitment was firm, and would not increase if the overall cost of the project was more than anticipated.
"I know there has been a lot of careful work been done by the Barr Government looking at the right balance, in order to make sure that the route is appropriate but as economical as possible," he said.
"I'm confident they will do a good job on that second stage, as they have on the first stage."
The commitment from Labor formed part of a wider, national election pledge to support public transport projects and reduce congestion.
The earliest estimates suggested construction of stage two could commence in 2020-21, and be up and running by 2023-24.
Stage one of the project — running from Gungahlin to the city centre — is expected to open to the public in April.
Testing of the new light rail lines has been underway for weeks, with trams running up and down the stage one route daily.
While the network was yet to take passengers, a man was taken to hospital in a stable condition after stepping in front of a light rail vehicle on the corner of Cooyong Street and Northbourne Avenue on Saturday morning.
The man, who was said to be wearing headphones at the time, injured his arm. The light rail vehicle, which was going no faster than 50kph, was also damaged in the incident.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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