Canberra Light Rail - ISCouncil

Canberra Light Rail

Project Details

  • Project Owner: Major Projects Canberra
  • Rating Type: V 1.2 Design and As Built
  • Registered Date: April 2016
  • Completion Date: April , 2019
  • Location: ACT
  • Rating Score: 87.6
  • Assessor Name: Margot Andrew, Patrick Giltrap
  • Stakeholders: ACT Government – Major Projects Canberra, Transport Canberra and City Services,John Holland,CPB Contractors, Canberra Metro Operations,Vital Chemical, Canberra Metro


Canberra is achieving excellence when it comes to delivering sustainable infrastructure projects, with the ACT Government’s commitment to sustainable outcomes evidenced by a “Leading” ISCA rating being achieved for Light Rail Stage One. Awarded an ‘As Built’ score of 87.6, light rail has set the standard for sustainability within the ACT’s construction sector, and the local industry is embracing the challenge of delivering a sustainable capital works program for the Canberra community. - Major Projects Canberra Project Director Light Rail; Ashley Cahif


The first stage of a new light rail network in Australia's Capital connecting Gungahlin and the City, consisting of 12km of light rail track, 13 stops, light rail vehicles, and a depot to be operated and maintained by Canberra Metro for 20 years.

Rating Highlights

  • Energy: Development of an energy strategy that achieved a 30% reduction in construction emissions. Any residual emissions during the construction phase were offset to achieve zero net carbon emissions across Scope 1 and 2 emissions for construction.
    To minimise operational emissions, initiatives were implemented including installation of solar panels on the Mitchell depot roof, regenerative braking capabilities and energy efficient driver training. These initiatives supported the ACT Government reaching its Renewable Energy Target of 100% in 2020 and the offsetting of any residual emissions will ensure the operation of the Light Rail also achieves zero net carbon emissions across Scope 1 and 2 emissions.


  • Climate change A bespoke climate model was created using NARCliM and a draft Engineers Australia paper to undertake a climate change risk assessment. This informed the design and adaptation measures were incorporated to mitigate the impacts and improve the system’s resilience to extreme climatic events. The risk assessment has been adopted and will be managed, updated, and maintained by the operator.


  • Community, Health and Wellbeing: It was identified that Local industry involvement, community education and skill development were priority issues within the local Canberra community, so the Project implemented measures to positively contribute to these issues including;
    • A partnership with Canberra Business Chamber for the development of small local Canberra businesses was implemented to aide in the engagement of local businesses.
    • A Rail Safety awareness campaign; Rail Ready was rolled out to schools, sporting venues and shopping centres along the alignment to increase rail safety awareness. Canberra Metro staff also got involved in career development sessions, volunteered at the annual ACT Engineering Games and provided guidance to architecture students tasked with redesigning one of the stops at a local school.
    • The project employed 20 Apprentices and trainees, 13 Graduates, 37 undergraduate students from Canberra universities as part of the project.


  • Heritage: According to the architect of Canberra; Sir Walter Burley Griffin back in 1912, the city was planned with main avenues for rapid transport and would be lined with social and economic activity. The original documents and drawings done by Griffin clearly show a proposed railway/tramway to service the city centre. The Project was able to enhance Canberra’s heritage by delivering on Sir Griffin’s original plan more than 100 years after its creation.


  • Stakeholder Participation: A Communications & Engagement Strategy was implemented on the Canberra Light Rail Project to support stakeholder participation in the Project, including weekly Communication Working Groups, and quarterly Community and Business Forums. The Project also had a comprehensive process for undertaking out of hours works that allowed for minimal disruption to the surrounding public.


  • Urban and Landscape Design: The Project undertook significant efforts in the urban and landscape design space including
    • Reusing all topsoil
    • Installing approximately 970,000 drought resistant native plants
    • The installation of over 1,000 trees all of which were native roughly 200 more than what was in the project area previously
    • The inclusion of a dedicated bike rack and bike area on the Light Rail Vehicles to support the ACT Low Emission Vehicle Strategy and Active Transport principles.
    • Significant internal and external design reviews to ensure all design criteria, including sustainability and people and place principles were applied.


  • Innovation: Canberra Light Rail implemented the following innovations which all delivered an economic, social or environmental benefit to the project and greater Canberra area.
    • Reducing water usage with the application of a polymer as a soil bonding agent and dust suppression has been recognised as an Australian first.
    • Design and construction of an equestrian horse crossing across light rail tracks with a waiting area for the horse and rider, mounting blocks, and a dedicated extended crossing phase so the horse and rider can cross the intersection in one pass. This was recognised as an Australian first.

Through a collaborative approach with WorkSafe, an innovative hydro-vaccing protocol was developed to allow high pressure water to be applied to known and unknown asbestos assets/debris throughout the Project alignment with minimal risk to the workers and public. This was recognised as an Australian first.

Website Links

To find out more information about the project, visit the Transport Canberra website or the  Canberra Metro webiste 

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