Canberra’s light rail picks up speed with network to be fully operational in April

Lachlan Roberts 1 March 2019 74

The light rail is expected to be fully operational sometime in April.

Canberra’s long wait for the arrival of its light rail looks set to end as the ACT Government announces the new transport network will be fully operational next month.

As the project enters the final stages of testing, ACT Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris announced the network will be launched on a Saturday in April but would not confirm a date. Ms Fitzharris said the ACT Government is looking at mid-April as its start date.

“What we are aiming to do on that Saturday is for everyone in the community to have free access to the whole public transport system so they can travel around the city for free,” she said. “We are really looking forward to being able to announce the Saturday in April to get operations underway.

“We are so close to having light rail here in Canberra.”

The Mitchell light rail depot is now fully operational and light rail vehicles will have priority at intersections and crossings from today (1 March) as the project starts to pick up speed towards its completion date.

Light rail vehicles will now be the first to cross through intersections, pedestrian crossings and median crossings when travelling along the Gungahlin to City route. New signs and traffic signals have been installed to remind motorists and pedestrians that they are now travelling alongside a light rail service.

Pedestrians will now see a ‘don’t walk’ signal when they reach a track crossing and if a light rail vehicle is approaching, pedestrians and cyclists will need to wait for the green signal before crossing the tracks.

Light rail project director Meghan Oldfield said that a new traffic signalling system will provide light rail vehicles with priority as they approach intersections and will change the usual sequence of lights.

“The new traffic signalling system will ensure that light rail passengers enjoy the most efficient journey time when travelling on light rail while helping to maintain frequency,” she said.

“Where in the past motorists may have been able to predict the traffic lights because of the regular sequencing, this will now change. The usual sequence of signals will be disrupted as they approach an intersection and it’s really important that motorists, cyclists and pedestrians pay attention to the signals.”

Over two and a half years since the first sod for the light rail depot was turned, the new state-of-the-art facility is now fully operational and will be the engine-room behind Canberra’s light rail system.

The depot will house a fleet of 14 light rail vehicles and around 100 staff including 33 drivers, 16 customer service officers and a number of operational control centre duty managers who will monitor the light rail corridor day and night.

Canberra Metro CEO Glenn Stockton said the light rail nerve centre has a back-up operations control centre and an automatic vehicle location system that monitors the real-time position of vehicles on the alignment.

“The depot hosts some of the latest security technology including live stream CCTV monitors on board light rail vehicles and at each stop to ensure safety,” Mr Stockton said.

“GPS tracking systems across the network enable us to provide real-time route information so that passengers always know when the next LRV is arriving.

“Within the operational control centre, not only will trained operators manage and supervise the performance of the light rail system, but they’ll also work with emergency services in responding to and providing an immediate response to any incidents along the alignment.”

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74 Responses to Canberra’s light rail picks up speed with network to be fully operational in April
Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 11:56 am 09 Mar 19

I guess the first pedestrian collected and injured is kind of a marker. At least it means the trams are moving (dangerously). I hope the poor person makes a full recovery and the tram drivers are instructed to actually look out for pedestrians, the way car drivers are required to.

    JC JC 7:18 pm 09 Mar 19

    Not sure if you have noticed how the pedestrian crossing at that and other busy intersections intersection works but people are mean to cross the road, turn walk a few meters, turn then cross the tracks.

    I have not doubt a driver would stop if they suspected someone would step out in front of them. What I reckon has happened, and seen this plenty of times at this very intersection is rather than turn and walk an extra 5m people step over the small concrete barrier that directs them to turn, right into the tracks. I would have a guess driver expected them to follow the path.

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 11:35 pm 03 Mar 19

So the issue of metal rails not being embedded deep enough to meet the contract standards was solved?

Alison Seow Alison Seow 8:59 pm 03 Mar 19

Shae Court we will have to take the boys !

Sonya Oskam Sonya Oskam 7:27 pm 02 Mar 19

I just read this for the comments!!!

Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:59 pm 02 Mar 19

Transport Canberra’s latest light rail promotional video is great!

Anthony Olivera Anthony Olivera 5:03 pm 02 Mar 19

Sean Budge it’s getting there!

John Moulis John Moulis 12:23 pm 02 Mar 19

Well April 20th is Easter Saturday so it won’t be then. Betcha it is the 27th, the last Saturday in April.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:28 pm 03 Mar 19

    Pity it won’t be the 28th April as this would be 249 years after Lt.James Cook landed at Botany Bay.

Anne T Turner Anne T Turner 11:55 am 02 Mar 19

Looking forward to my trip to work from West Belconnen taking twice as long on public transport so the people of Gunghalin and inner north can use the light rail! Thanks "Transport" Canberra.

    Raffy Sgroi Raffy Sgroi 9:26 pm 02 Mar 19

    Anne T Turner I really looking forward to see how many from Gunghalin will be happy to pay more and take longer!

    Anne T Turner Anne T Turner 9:28 pm 02 Mar 19

    Raffy Sgroi probably about as many who will continue to use the buses when the express services are cancelled!

    Dennis Pinner Dennis Pinner 3:38 pm 03 Mar 19

    The Gungahlin to city light rail has a peak time service of 6 minutes. Which is far quicker than by car.

    Anne T Turner Anne T Turner 3:42 pm 03 Mar 19

    Dennis Pinner unfortunately I don't live in Gungahlin (and had forgotten how to spell it!). The reason that express services have been cut from my part of Belconnen along with the rest of Canberra is because of the light rail. Right now I can get to to city in 20 -30 minutes which is quite comparable to a car. In the future it will be 40-50 minutes. On a good day. And this is supposed to make bus travel more attractive apparently.

    Max Kwiatkowski Max Kwiatkowski 4:39 pm 03 Mar 19

    Dennis Pinner haha - wrong! Journey times will 25mins Gungahlin to City according to all the govt documentation (similar to the bus if it didn't get slowed down in traffic and roadworks). Trains will come every 6 mins in peak hour, which is probably where you got your mistaken figure from. If light rail covered the 12km distance in 6 minutes that would mean the trams are travelling at speeds over 150km/h - now that would be something!!

    Dennis Pinner Dennis Pinner 1:58 pm 04 Mar 19

    Anne, sorry to hear that Transport Canberra is making your bus journey slower. Its a mystery why they would do this for a route for which there is not now a light rail option? I suggest you complain to Transport Canberra.

    Dennis Pinner Dennis Pinner 2:08 pm 04 Mar 19

    Max Kwiatkowski Max, The way the info is presented by TC is misleading, why they cannot clearly state frequency and duration I don't know. Incidentally the tram would only need to travel at 120km/h for 12kms in 6 mins without stops. Apparently however the maximum speed is about 70km/h so you are clearly right the journey will take longer than 6 mins. I guess all the stopping is going to slow things down a fair bit. I expect we will here a lot more about this as the service actually hits the tracks!

    Anne T Turner Anne T Turner 3:49 pm 04 Mar 19

    Dennis Pinner I have tried so many times to provide constructive feedback to ACTION. My two favourite conversations: ACTION advised me that my city express bus 217 (going from Kippax to Civic) was being replaced by the 227 (which goes from Weston to Civic). When I questioned this they told me that was all the information they had. Second one was when they had temporary arrangements for an interchange for more than 6 months with no shelters or ramps. ACTION told me I should talk to someone else if I had mobility issues, it was not their responsibility.

    Anya Joedicke Dettman Anya Joedicke Dettman 4:31 pm 04 Mar 19

    Possibly they got confused because it is actually a 717 from Kippax, not a 217 - but I agree that they are less than responsive. The 717 is my morning and afternoon bus too, and when its discontinued after April my travel time will double. Trying to juggle full time work and study, I can't afford to spend more time on travel - and I use my current time on the express bus (plenty of seats) to do my tutorial readings. Don't imagine will be able to do it in future packed into a standing room only bus from Belconnen shared with school kids...

    Dennis Pinner Dennis Pinner 4:35 pm 04 Mar 19

    Anne T Turner maybe registering a complaint will get you further. There a several ways you can do this under service policy on the website.

    If all fails speak to your MLA. I am sure they want the new service to be a success and if instead they are making your life more difficult - let them have it, politely of cause, but firmly. Good luck

    Anne T Turner Anne T Turner 4:55 pm 04 Mar 19

    Anya Joedicke Dettman the 217 was an earlier incarnation of the 717. Because I don't drive I have been catching the bus for quite some time 😊

Stephen Walsh Stephen Walsh 10:06 am 02 Mar 19

they missed a great opportunity to do live passenger testing with free travel to the Canberra show. I wonder if they'll do it for the Folkie.

    Darren Cullerne Darren Cullerne 11:34 am 02 Mar 19

    Now Stephen, let's not bring good ideas into this :p

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 7:05 pm 10 Mar 19

    Stephen Walsh need to be accredited to carry passengers even if free.

Rob Sanders Rob Sanders 10:00 am 02 Mar 19

April 31st!

Rob Keast Rob Keast 9:25 am 02 Mar 19

"...cyclists will need to wait for the green signal before crossing the tracks."

I'll believe that when I see it! 😂🤣

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 7:29 pm 02 Mar 19

    Rob Keast it would be a first!!

    Duanosghali Twoee Duanosghali Twoee 7:39 am 03 Mar 19

    Rob Keast true that. The behaviour of the red-light runners is not easily changed.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 5:33 pm 03 Mar 19

    As a pedestrian, you and the other commenters here have always waited for that green light of course, and NEVER crossed with the red, even with no cars in sight.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 9:26 pm 05 Mar 19

    Julie Macklin no I don’t disobey red lights

    Daniel Oyston Daniel Oyston 2:57 pm 06 Mar 19

    Julie Macklin ha ha true that. Sometime I think people believe the Zebra crossing is a no go zone!

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 1:53 pm 10 Mar 19

    Julie Macklin I cross on a red quite often. But I do look rather than just step out.

Fiona Hall Fiona Hall 8:59 am 02 Mar 19

Thank god, only 2 more months until they stop closing off random intersections without warning down Northbourne Avenue.

Andrew B. Carfrae Andrew B. Carfrae 6:38 am 02 Mar 19

I think the light rail will be of great benefit. This is only the first step... I think when there is a large network that links all of Canberra together, it will be excellent.

Lynn Richardson Lynn Richardson 3:35 am 02 Mar 19

And to only think that the health system is lacking in funds to help ALL Canberrans due to this failure!

Claire Walker-Swallow Claire Walker-Swallow 11:50 pm 01 Mar 19

Luke's A Swallow we are making a trip down to try it

Jenni Atkinson Jenni Atkinson 11:21 pm 01 Mar 19

Brilliant ! So looking forward to riding on this ! Well done Canberra !

    Jenni Atkinson Jenni Atkinson 6:13 am 02 Mar 19

    Scott Abela and enjoying riding on this one and subsequent phases ! Canberra grows up !

Hugh Mungus McLauchlan Hugh Mungus McLauchlan 11:11 pm 01 Mar 19

Yay for literally the smallest percentage of Northside!!!

    David Barwick David Barwick 7:12 am 02 Mar 19

    Hugh Mungus McLauchlan hopefully it’s the start of something bigger

Robert Honeybone Snr Robert Honeybone Snr 10:59 pm 01 Mar 19

Is this an early April Fools Day joke ?

Shaun Hazell Shaun Hazell 9:07 pm 01 Mar 19

Does the trainset work in the rain?

    David Millard David Millard 8:38 am 02 Mar 19

    Not if it's on the sea front at Dawlish, UK in any stormy weather.

    Matt Stephen Matt Stephen 2:30 pm 02 Mar 19

    Dunno, Shaun, have you ever been to Melbourne? Trams run fine there, when it's raining. 😂🤣😂🤣

George Frilingos George Frilingos 9:07 pm 01 Mar 19

Probably April 1

    Smita Patel Smita Patel 1:25 pm 02 Mar 19

    George Frilingos 2019 or 2020 is the question!

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