Capital Metro, Canberra

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Capital Metro (proposed)
Aerial view of Northbourne Avenue looking north from Civic.jpg
Aerial view of Northbourne Avenue looking north from Civic with City Hill & the Vernon Circle in the foreground
Owner ACT Government
Locale Canberra
Transit type Light rail
Number of lines 1
Number of stations 13
Chief executive Emma Thomas (Project Director)
Website Transport Canberra
Operation will start 2019
Number of vehicles 14 Urbos
Train length 33 metres
System length 12 kilometres
Track gauge 1435mm
Route map
12 Gungahlin Northern Terminus
Flemington Rd Multiple stations
Federal Highway
Northbourne Avenue Multiple stations
0 Civic Southern Terminus
Vernon Circle

The Capital Metro is a future light rail system in Canberra, Australia. The initial line is planned to link the northern town centre of Gungahlin to the city centre (Civic). This line has been approved by the Government of the Australian Capital Territory and early construction work began in 2015, but is not supported by the opposition Liberal Party which has promised to cancel it if they win government in 2016.


The construction of the light rail line was part of a deal struck between the Labor Party, and The Greens following the 2012 Australian Capital Territory Election, at which Labor required Greens support to form government.[1][2] $5 million was allocated for early design work in the 2013/14 ACT budget.[3] In September 2014, the business case was approved by the government.

The project was developed by the Capital Metro Agency. Responsibility for the project transferred to a new organisation, Transport Canberra, from 1 July 2016. The new organisation combines the Capital Metro Agency with the city's bus operator, ACTION.[4][5] The line will be delivered under a public private partnership.[6][7] Expressions of interest were received from the following consortia:[8][9]

In March 2015, the government announced that ACTivate and Canberra Metro had been selected to move on to the Request for Proposal stage of the procurement process.[10][11] The bidders submitted their final proposals for the Gungahlin to the city route on 4 September and had an additional four weeks to submit their proposals for a potential expansion of the project, from the city to Russell.[12] The Canberra Metro consortium was announced as the preferred tenderer in February 2016.[13][14] The contract will see Canberra Metro operate and maintain the line for 20 years, until 2038.[15] Construction of the depot commenced in July 2016 with major construction of the route itself due to begin at the end of the year.[16] The line is due to open in 2019.[17]

The total cost of the project is approximately $710 million. The Australian Government will contribute $67 million to the project.[15]

In April 2015, the opposition Liberal Party announced it would cancel any contracts for the light rail if it won the 2016 ACT election.[18] This has made the construction of a light rail network a major election issue.[19]


The 12 kilometre line will have its northern terminus at Hibberson Street in Gungahlin, and follow Flemington Road and Northbourne Avenue to the southern terminus between Alinga and Rudd Streets in the City Centre. There will be 13 stops:[20]

  • Gungahlin
  • Manning Clark Crescent
  • Mapleton Avenue
  • Nullarbor Avenue
  • Well Station Drive
  • EPIC
  • Phillip Avenue
  • Swinden Street
  • Dickson
  • Macarthur Avenue
  • Condamine Street
  • Elouera Street
  • City


Services are proposed to operate between 06:00 and 01:00 with a 6-minute frequency in peak hours.[21]


CAF will build and provide twenty years of maintenance for the fleet of 14 Urbos trams that will operate the network.[21] The trams will be 33 metres long and consist of 5 modules. There will be 4 doors on each side of the vehicle. The first vehicles are scheduled to be delivered in late 2017.[22] The depot is planned to be located in Mitchell.[23]

Potential extensions[edit]

To Woden[edit]

The consortia participating in the procurement process for the initial line were asked to develop plans for an expanded route from the City Centre to Russell via London Circuit and Constitution Avenue. This additional 3.2 kilometre section was estimated to boost the patronage of the line as a whole by more than 30%. If this route is built, it is likely to use wire-free technology to power the trams.[24][25] The government decided not to proceed with the expanded route, however it committed to releasing a plan for a second stage of the light rail network prior to the October 2016 territory election. It was considering extending the line not only to Russell but to the broader parliamentary triangle, possibly including the airport and Australian National University.[26]

In July 2016, the government released a short-list of four potential routes that could form the second stage of the light rail network. The routes were:[27]

  • City to the airport along Constitution Avenue then Parkes Way
  • City to the Belconnen town centre along Barry Drive and past Calvary Hospital and the University of Canberra
  • City to the Parliamentary Triangle along either Commonwealth Avenue or Kings Avenue
  • City to Mawson via Woden

In September, the government selected a truncated version of the Mawson route that ends at Woden as its preferred second stage project. The route is around 11 kilometres long. Construction is planned to begin shortly after the completion of the first stage.[28][29]

Twenty-five year vision[edit]

In October 2015, the ACT Government released a plan for a city-wide light rail network that would be built over a period of twenty-five years.[30] The plan includes the following elements:[31]

Corridor Notes
Gungahlin to City The first stage of the network
Parliamentary Triangle Connecting City to Russell, City to the Parliamentary Zone and Russell to the Parliamentary Zone. High priority corridor.
Woden to City Running via Adelaide Avenue. High priority corridor.
Tuggeranong to Woden (Athllon Corridor) Running either via the Athllon Drive Corridor or the existing rapid bus alignment along Erindale Drive
Eastern connections (Fyshwick and Airport) Additions to the Parliamentary Triangle routes, from Russell to Canberra Airport and the Parliamentary Zone to Fyshwick. High priority corridor.
Belconnen to City Running via Southern Cross Drive and Barry Drive
Molonglo to City Woden to City via Hindmarsh Drive, John Gorton Drive and Parkes Way


  1. ^ "Parliamentary Agreement for the 8th Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory" ACT Greens 2 November 2012
  2. ^ Canberrans not completely on board light rail project: poll Canberra Times 3 August 2014
  3. ^ "Canberra light rail funding included in budget". Railway Gazette International. 2013-06-10. Retrieved 2013-06-11. 
  4. ^ "Transport Canberra - Public Transport Improvement Plan 2015" (PDF). ACT Government. p. 6. 
  5. ^ Lawson, Kirsten; McIlroy, Tom (27 October 2015). "ACTION and Capital Metro Agency to be rolled into one from 2016". The Canberra Times. 
  6. ^ A Public Private Partnership for Canberra Metro Capital Metro
  7. ^ Canberra light rail project moves ahead after business case approved ABC News 16 September 2014
  8. ^ Carter, Mark (24 December 2014). "Bidders line up for Canberra LRT tender". International Railway Journal. 
  9. ^ -light-rail-in-act/5983144 Major companies vying for chance to build ACT light rail network, ABC News Online]], 22 December 2014, accessed 1 February 2016
  10. ^ Barrow, Keith (19 March 2015). "Two bidders shortlisted for Canberra LRT". International Railway Journal. 
  11. ^ "Preferred consortia announced for light rail project". ACT Government. Retrieved 20 March 2015. 
  12. ^ Belot, Henry (4 September 2015). "Canberra light rail hopefuls submit final bid papers for $783 million contract". The Canberra Times. 
  13. ^ Canberra Metro selected to build stage one of light rail from Gungahlin to the city ABC News 1 February 2016
  14. ^ Capita Metro named as successful light rail consortium Canberra Metro 1 February 2016
  15. ^ a b "Contracts signed for Canberra's first light rail project". Capital Metro. 17 May 2016. 
  16. ^ Sibthorpe, Clare (12 July 2016). "Construction begins on ACT light rail depot at Mitchell". The Canberra Times. 
  17. ^ Canberra light rail contract signed Railway Gazette International 18 May 2016
  18. ^ "Light rail contract 'will be torn up' if the Canberra Liberals win 2016 ACT election". ABC News. 15 April 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  19. ^ "Light rail will dominate next year's ACT election. Both main parties have more explaining to do". The Canberra Times. 11 October 2015. 
  20. ^ "Route and Stop Locations". ACT Government. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  21. ^ a b "Canberra Metro named as successful light rail consortium". ACT Government. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  22. ^ "CAF awarded the supply of Canberra trams, in Australia". Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles. 1 February 2016. 
  23. ^ "Nuts and bolts". ACT Government. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  24. ^ Carter, Mark (9 February 2015). "Canberra expands light rail project". International Railway Journal. 
  25. ^ McIlroy, Tom (10 September 2015). "Underground power plan for Russell light rail extension". The Canberra Times. 
  26. ^ Knaus, Christopher (7 June 2016). "ACT Budget 2016: Budget shows 'rubbish' claims on tram cost, chief minister says". The Canberra Times. 
  27. ^ Lawson, Kirsten (21 July 2016). "Labor announces possible Canberra light rail extensions to build in next term of government". The Canberra Times. 
  28. ^ Knaus, Christopher (2 September 2016). "Labor announces light rail to go to Woden". The Canberra Times. 
  29. ^ "Canberra light rail's second stage to link Woden and Civic, ACT Government says". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 September 2016. 
  30. ^ McIlroy, Tom (26 October 2015). "Woden and Parliament next for light rail lines in Canberra tram master plan". The Canberra Times. 
  31. ^ "Light Rail Network - Delivering a modern transport system for a growing city". ACT Government. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Capital Metro at Wikimedia Commons