Page 2228 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 3 August 2016

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A common package of works will be undertaken in each of these zones, including relocation and protection of utilities, earthworks, civil and track works, roadworks, the construction of light rail stops and landscaping. A detailed construction timetable will be released shortly.

The point I would like to make is that the vast majority of construction will be completed by the end of 2017 with work beyond that date concentrated on establishing the final light rail stops and landscaping along the full length of the corridor. Light rail will, as we know, begin running along the track early in mid-2018 for final testing and commissioning before commercial services begin later that year.

Even before light rail begins to operate we have seen significant benefits for our city. More than 100 people are already engaged in the project’s design, planning and early construction activities. The construction and operation phase I have just outlined will generate up to 500 local construction jobs through direct employment and subcontractor arrangements.

The EY jobs analysis estimated that 3,500 direct and indirect jobs would be supported during the delivery phase of the project, with a total jobs footprint of 50,000 jobs being supported in the light rail corridor stage 1 long term.

But, of course, Canberra light rail will deliver much more than jobs. It will alleviate congestion on the stage 1 corridor, particularly along Northbourne Avenue. Many more people can get to work more quickly, more reliably. Light rail is not only about addressing Canberra’s future congestion problems. It is about dealing with them now.

The average road vehicle journey time from Gungahlin to the city has already reached 45 minutes during periods of peak congestion. Modelling shows that across the next decade and a half journey time will increase to nearly an hour. Our 20-minute city has become a 30-minute city. For some it is already a 60-minute city.

The day that light rail begins offering services, this journey will be halved—guaranteed to be halved, Madam Speaker. Congestion will be a thing of the past for thousands of Canberrans. Light rail users will, of course, experience a consistent and reliable journey of 24 minutes, and in greater comfort.

Light rail also offers benefits to those who rely on our ACTION bus network. As stage 1 completes, the government will redirect 1.2 million bus kilometres to other parts of the network to deliver more services more frequently to add to the services that we have already announced in this year’s budget to keep all of Canberra moving.

International experience clearly shows the city shaping power of light rail. These benefits—reducing congestion, improving the travelling experience and helping to drive economic development and create jobs—are within reach of our community.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hinder.

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