THE Australasian Railway Association (ARA) last week launched a paper on Canberra's Capital Metro light rail project, drawing on overseas experiences from cities of similar a size that highlight the proven benefits of light rail.
Speaking at the national Light Rail Conference in Sydney, Chief Executive Officer of the ARA, Bryan Nye, launched the 'Capital Metro: Canberra's light rail project in a global context' paper, which demonstrates how the benefits of light rail can be delivered in Canberra.
Mr Nye said that the multiple examples of light rail working , not only in Australia but also around the world, demonstrate that Canberra has a population suitable for its own light rail network with many benefits outweighing the initial financial cost.
"The overseas case studies analysed in this Paper should remind policy makers in Australia that light rail is a key element in successfully developing and implementing long-term future public transport plans, which is essential to managing future growth and improving a city's amenity, liveability and sustainability," Mr Nye said.
"The economic costs and benefits of light rail are easily quantified, but it's the wider economic, social and environmental benefits that are harder to analyse, yet these are the key points of difference and what truly make light rail an invaluable addition to a city and the commuting public.
"Things like decreased congestion, urban renewal, less carbon emissions, land value uplift, increased social inclusion and positive health impacts are just a few of the benefits a light rail network brings to a car dependant city.
"France, for example is today recognised as a world leader in light rail, with 37 light rail systems in operation in cities across the country of all sizes, including Nice in Southern France.
"Nice had a population of 350,000 when it opened its 8.7km light rail line in 2007 with a two-fold objective; as an urban renewal project to "regenerate the downtown area of Nice" and as a transport project to reduce the number of cars in the city centre. The city is now reaping the benefits driven from this initiative and is as a result a more economically robust community," Mr Nye concluded.
The paper also looks to innovative funding and financing methods that would help to improve the market for private financing and encourage investment in public transport projects and infrastructure, such as value capture, transit-oriented developments and congestion charging.
Image: Artist's impression of proposed City Station as part of Capital Metro project / Capital Metro.