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

Lachlan Roberts 1 March 2019 76

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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76 Responses to Canberra’s light rail picks up speed with network to be fully operational in April
Capital Retro Capital Retro 3:37 pm 01 Mar 19

“…..100 staff….”

That’s $10 million a year at least! Where is the money for them going to come from?

Sue Ellen Sue Ellen 7:13 pm 01 Mar 19

Only a year overdue and riddled with defects. It remains to be seen how reliably it will run as a result. I doubt the pain is over yet but look forward to the easing of traffic congestion as everyone who wanted it gets on board.

    David Pollard David Pollard 7:21 pm 01 Mar 19

    I’m curious where you got “a year overdue” and “riddled with defects”? I’d love to see some source for those claims, as if true they should absolutely be addressed.

    Geoff Sandland Geoff Sandland 7:34 pm 01 Mar 19

    Sue Ellen the contract has bonuses for early delivery, my understanding is that the contracted delivery date was always April 2019 subject to penalties. The amount of rework is normal for a contract of this size.

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 10:06 pm 01 Mar 19

    It was originally planned to be running in 2019. That was the promise at the last election. Then some manager thought it would be ready by xmas but it wasn't. For a project of this size if it starts in April, it will probably be used as an actual good example of running a project.

    Lexie Donald Lexie Donald 8:07 am 02 Mar 19

    Have you been under a rock?

    Google it

    Correctly described as a year overdue and riddled with defects!

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 8:17 am 02 Mar 19

    Justin Watson the contracted date for completion of construction was always 21st December 2018. With operations early in 2019.

    Stephen Walsh Stephen Walsh 11:42 am 02 Mar 19

    Lexie: you made the declaration, the onus is on you to deliver the proof, This is known as "the burden of proof". google it.

    Don't to try to distract someone away from the argument with attempts to find what doesn't exist.

    Matt Stephen Matt Stephen 2:32 pm 02 Mar 19

    I love it when trams are introduced to non-tram cities. We Melbournites, who've enjoyed reliable tram travel for over 130 years do chuckle.

    Gerard Jenkins Gerard Jenkins 3:55 pm 02 Mar 19

    I love it when people think facebook is a court room

    Gerry Steer Gerry Steer 5:00 pm 02 Mar 19

    Sue Ellen not likely to be used.

    Mark Dando Mark Dando 4:43 pm 06 Mar 19

    Sue Ellen the contract summary says ' the construction phase for the Capital Metro Project will be complete by late 2018

    and operations will begin by early 2019' https://www.tccs.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/887686/Light-rail-Capital-Metro-Project-Contract-Summary.pdf

    Sue Ellen Sue Ellen 7:12 am 09 Mar 19

    We were told completion would be March 2018. Media has covered the delay and defects. Here's one article https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-15/canberra-light-rail-months-behind-schedule/9871848

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 1:52 pm 10 Mar 19

    Sue Ellen March 2018 was never the operational date.

    As for the defects sure there are some as you would expect on any major project. You have worked on several haven’t you?

    As for the article that is about missing project delivery deadlines. If the finish construction by the end of the month (and I believe that excludes roads) then they will be 3 months behind the contracted completion date.

Alby James Alby James 7:29 pm 01 Mar 19

All of Canberra’s problem will be solved until it rains

    David Barwick David Barwick 7:11 am 02 Mar 19

    Alby James so negative

    Darren Cullerne Darren Cullerne 11:30 am 02 Mar 19

    But to be fair, Canberra drivers are pretty bad when it rains as well, so about the same :p

    Mark Dando Mark Dando 4:49 pm 06 Mar 19

    In heavy rain I'd sooner be on a tram than driving

Corey Karl Corey Karl 7:33 pm 01 Mar 19

And Flemington Rd reduces to one lane 3 days of the week for remulching and weeding 😂😂😂😂 what a joke

    David Barwick David Barwick 7:14 am 02 Mar 19

    Corey Karl then either use the tram when it’s working or get a bike , easy .

    Corey Karl Corey Karl 8:53 am 02 Mar 19

    David Barwick yes my tool trailer will fit behind the train just nicely ...... twit !!

    Darren Cullerne Darren Cullerne 11:33 am 02 Mar 19

    The benefits to you will be fewer cars on the road because others can use the tram, which should hopefully make your commute easier.

    Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 3:05 pm 02 Mar 19

    I assume the population of Gungahlin is still growing, so it is still going to be gridlock at peak hours.

    Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 7:28 pm 02 Mar 19

    David Barwick no bikes on Northbourne!! There is just nowhere for them to go, just get hit!

Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 7:47 pm 01 Mar 19

Saw it buzzing by as we walked to Jolimont for Mardi Gras. I was hoping to catch it to Jolimont this year. Next year

bj_ACT bj_ACT 8:30 pm 01 Mar 19

Good to hear it’s now ready for formal testing. I saw cement work happening last week and thought that type of stuff should have been completed ages ago.

Peak hour travel will be a definite success. However, It’s ensuring that the carriages are almost half full outside of peak hour that will determine whether it’s successful or not.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:17 am 03 Mar 19

    Has anyone calculated the carbon footprint of this project? With all that concrete it must be enormous.

    It makes a mockery of the territory claiming it will be using 100% renewables.

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!

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. 😂🤣😂🤣

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

Is this an early April Fools Day joke ?

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

    Richard Algis Richard Algis 9:28 pm 02 Mar 19

    David Barwick bigger rates for sure.

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 !

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

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!

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.

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.

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!!

    Duane Toohey Duane Toohey 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.

Rob Sanders Rob Sanders 10:00 am 02 Mar 19

April 31st!

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.

Richard Algis Richard Algis 10:59 am 02 Mar 19

I bet Tuggeranong residents can’t wait to drive to civic and catch the tram 🚃.

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 transport.act.gov 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 😊

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