PLANS for a light rail system between Gungahlin and Civic have moved a step closer after the ACT Government last week called for expressions of interest from the private sector to build and operate the system.
In addition to inviting expressions of interest for the Capital Metro contract, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Minister for Capital Metro Simon Corbell also released the final business case for stage one of the light rail network between Gungahlin and Civic.
"This affordable project will deliver huge economic benefits to our city – with analysis by expert consultants showing $1 billion in benefits," the Chief Minister said.
Ms Gallagher said the project will create 3,500 jobs in the construction phase, adding that in the longer term, it will revitalise the entire corridor from Gungahlin to the city by supporting new development, business, housing and leisure opportunities and tens of thousands of jobs.
Minister for Capital Metro Simon Corbell said the release of the business case was an unusual step for governments to take, but one that showed the ACT Government commitment to making this an open and transparent project.
"The business case, produced using analysis by globally respected economic advisers EY, shows that Capital Metro stage one will produce nearly a billion dollars in benefits for the ACT economy, a return of $1.20 for every $1 spent on this project," Mr Corbell said.
"The first stage of this city-transforming light rail network will help tackle the growing congestion that is set to cost the ACT $200 million a year in 2021 and will help prevent a travel time of almost an hour from City to Gungahlin by 2031."
The commitment to deliver the light rail project is a key part of the Parliamentary agreement between ACT Labor and the Greens.
The Chief Minister said projects like Capital Metro would help keep Canberra among the world's most liveable cities.
Mr Corbell said it was necessary to act now to modernise Canberra's transport mix with projects like light rail and Majura Parkway rather than waiting for congestion to get worse.
"Light rail is an investment we have to make, but it's one we can responsibly afford. Delivering this as a public private partnership will enable us to spread the cost equitably across future generations, without a dollar changing hands until Canberrans are riding light rail down Northbourne Avenue," Mr Corbell said.
"The business case demonstrates the PPP delivery method provides 11 per cent better value than if the government built and operated Capital Metro itself."
Expressions of interest are due in December and a shortlist for the request for proposal stage will be released during the first quarter of next year. Construction is on track to start in 2016.
Photo: Artist's impression of light rail on Northbourne Avenue, Canberra / Capital Metro.