Election policy: Capital Metro Light Rail Project to be delivered through Canberra’s first large-scale private partnership


ACT Labor is committed to transforming Canberra’s public transport services and improving residents’ transport choices.  Better public transport services will help reduce the costs associated with multiple car ownership, traffic congestion and will assist in reducing Canberra’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The ACT Labor Government has released a comprehensive strategy to improve Canberra’s public transport network called Transport for Canberra.


Transport for Canberra will drive improvements in service frequency and coverage.   Along with improving and extending frequency of bus services along Rapid Corridors, the plan proposes travel guarantees to reduce waiting times when interchanging and increasing frequency for suburban coverage services.

ACT Labor is already delivering improvements to public transport, including the extension of Red Rapid services to the Kippax Group centre to service West Belconnen, Real Time Bus Information, the construction of the ANU Exchange Bus Station, the new Belconnen Community Bus Station and the Belconnen to City Transit way project.

As part of its comprehensive plan, the ACT Labor Government has also been investigating options to construct Light Rail Transit from the Gungahlin Town Centre to the City Centre as the first stage of a broader rapid transit network across our city.

This is a transformative project that will change the face of Canberra and the way it functions and grows.


As well as providing a faster, more frequent, and reliable public transport service which will encourage mode shift away from private vehicles, this project will facilitate urban renewal at both the residential and commercial levels, bringing about significant transit oriented land use changes.

If re-elected in 2012, ACT Labor will establish the ACT’s first large-scale private sector partnership to plan, finance and develop the first stage of a Light Rail Network for Canberra – the Capital Metro.

Capital Metro will be the backbone of Canberra’s public transport network, combined with the Frequent Network of buses.  Options for investigation of second and subsequent stages are already being considered, including Kingston (East Lake) to the City via Barton, Woden to the City, Woden to Erindale and Tuggeranong, as well as to Belconnen, Weston Creek and Molonglo.

 Policy costings

The current revised total project cost estimate is $614 million.  This cost estimate will continue to be refined as the project progresses through forward design.  This figure includes feasibility, design, construction and vehicle purchase including a light rail depot.

In order to progress this project, ACT Labor will commit to $30 million in capital funding.  This $30 million funding will be used to undertake the next stage of concept and design work, and development of funding and financing analysis and models in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 period.

Funding for Capital Metro Stage 1 project delivery and construction will be through a private sector partnership, with finance and delivery models to be developed as part of work in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

 ACT Labor’s plan to transform our city with Capital Metro










$30 million*





$30 million*

* This is ACT Labor’s committed funding. This will reduce to $7.5 million each year if the funding submission to Infrastructure Australia is successful.

** Recurrent funding will be provided to the Capital Metro Project Office (currently the Gungahlin to City Project Office) from the Land Development Agency.  The LDA is not budget funded.

What is Capital Metro?

Capital Metro Stage 1 will be a light rail service with vehicles capable of carrying up to 200 people at 8-10 minute frequencies along a 12km route from Hibberson Street in Gungahlin to the City Centre.  The proposal will involve major stations at Gungahlin Town Centre and Dickson Group Centre with high quality stops 750m-1.5km apart at various points along Flemington Road and Northbourne Avenue, terminating between Alinga and Rudd Streets close to the City Bus Interchange.

Capital Metro Stage 1 will be developed on the median alignment along Flemington Road and Northbourne Avenue.  It is proposed to retain the existing verge and median widths along Northbourne Avenue and also provide dedicated 3 metre wide segregated cycle lanes to improve cycling safety along Northbourne Avenue.  Flemington Road will include 1.5m dedicated cycleways in the verge.  Improvements will also be made to pedestrian infrastructure along the corridor.

Capital Metro Stage 1 will help manage congestion on the crowded Flemington Road Northbourne Avenue corridor and the broader Canberra road network.  Currently travel delay during the AM peak is approximately 16 minutes.  The development of Capital Metro Stage 1 is projected to reduce travel delay by up to 6 minutes based on the business as usual scenario.  Capital Metro’s travel times are estimated to be at least 30% faster than general vehicle traffic.

 Work to date

In 2012, ACT Labor established the Gungahlin to City Project Office to coordinate the delivery of rapid transit and urban redevelopment along the Gungahlin to City corridor.

This recognised that the project is also a significant urban renewal project with the need to coordinate and use “value capture” to help finance public transport infrastructure works and renew existing sites on the corridor, such as the Northbourne Flats Public Housing precinct.

Detailed engineering and economic analysis has been undertaken as part of the project, with the economic analysis confirming a strong benefit cost ratio of 2.34 for Light Rail Transit on the Gungahlin to City Corridor, supported by more people and jobs moving into the corridor over the next 20 years.

To date, the project has involved engineering concept design, pre-feasibility cost estimates and further refining of those, public transport modelling, economic and financial evaluations, community consultation and a submission to Infrastructure Australia1

 What are the next steps?

To progress the Capital Metro project during 2012-13 an ACT Labor Government will direct the renamed Capital Metro Project Office to:

  • Commence preparation of a Master Plan for Northbourne Avenue and the Gungahlin to City Corridor, to establish the pathway to higher population and employment in the corridor.
  • Undertake further transport planning and engineering work to develop the Metro project, with the following four priority projects to be completed by December 2013:
    • Light rail vehicle options study ($100,000), to investigate appropriate vehicle options for the corridor and the broader network;
    • Transport planning to support light rail ($200,000) – bus network integration and implications, regulatory impacts and supportive policy options;
    • Light rail staging study ($225,000) – to confirm early works plan, utility relocation, public realm including landscaping and supporting infrastructure, project timeframes and detailed staging;
    • Light rail station infrastructure design study ($225,000) – station concept design for Gungahlin, Dickson and City stations and standard light rail stop concept design.


ACT Labor’s commitment of $30 million over the next two years is for further feasibility and forward design during 2013-14 and 2014-15.  We have also submitted a funding proposal to Infrastructure Australia as part of the Nation Building II funding round, for a $15 million contribution to offset the ACT Labor Government’s costs in this phase of the project.

The proposed program for 2013-14 and 2014-15 will include:

Advance 2011-12 and 2012-13 pre-concept design work into concept and preliminary design:

  • Final design of stations/stops, depots and supporting infrastructure;
  • Final design of track infrastructure;
  • City station and future expansion (including connections to east – Constitution Avenue, and south – Commonwealth Avenue);
  • Detailed design of preferred light rail vehicle from the 2013 study;
  • Public transport network integration;
  • Survey works and quantity estimates;
  • Cost estimation at design level (increased accuracy);
  • Delivery model development including risk assessment of delivery options; and
  • Preparation of tender document package.


Economic and financing work:

  • Further detailed modelling of light rail option;
  • Further refinement of economic analysis;
  • Financing options including pricing and private sector partnership;
  • Triple Bottom Line Analysis and alignment to ACT Labor Government goals in social, economic and sustainability areas;
  • Delivery strategy; and
  • Optimum Stage 1 investment.

 Finalise the Gungahlin to City Master Plan:

  • Refine land use analysis and land value capture analysis;
  • Assessment of implications (Greenfield and revenue analysis); and
  • Link to City Strategic Plan being developed through the Commonwealth Government’s Liveable Cities Program.

 When will the first stage of Capital Metro be complete?

Capital Metro Stage 1 will be one of the largest infrastructure investments made by the ACT Government for many years.  It is essential to plan and prepare for a project of this complexity carefully, so that issues such as detailed community consultation, feasibility analysis, environmental considerations, station design and location, relocation and upgrade of existing infrastructure and financing options can all be properly considered.

Capital Metro Stage 1 is anticipated to be completed by 2018, with construction estimated to commence in 2016.  This timeframe is comparable with the Gold Coast light rail project, which is now under construction and is estimated to have an 8 year project life from project inception to completion.


Some of these earlier reports can be accessed from the links below:

Fact Sheet


Concept Report


Project update April 2012


Community Survey findings



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