23 April 2019

Days after launch, light rail vehicle 'reboots' on tracks after stalling

| Lachlan Roberts
Join the conversation

Canberra’s light rail network has experienced an array of teething issues over the past couple of days. Photos: George Tsotsos.

Days after its launch, Canberra’s light rail vehicles are experiencing an array of teething issues, with one trip taking an extra 15 minutes on Tuesday morning (23 April) after breaking down.

Canberra Metro spokesperson said technicians are currently working through the reasons behind this morning’s delay, but believed it was a software issue with the vehicle. The issue was resolved after rebooting the vehicle.

Transport Canberra deputy director general Duncan Edghill said the system has been working “spectacularly” and said this morning’s delay was an isolated issue.

“As far as I am aware, the issue that we had this morning is the first time we have seen this issue,” he said. “We certainly would expect this to be isolated in nature.

“With any new bus, light rail or another vehicle there are teething issues that may need to be worked through. We appreciate the patience of the Canberra community as we bed down those issues. Overall, the system as a whole over the past four days of its operations is performing exceptionally well.”

Mr Edghill said there were a few other tweaks that will be made to all the vehicles over the coming weeks.

“There are a few bedding in issues that we need to work through with the light rail vehicles,” he said. “There are some tweaks that we think we need to make to the air-conditioning system and there are some tweaks that we will make to the speakers and the volume of the announcements.

“These are issues around optimising the system when we have got real-life people on board. There are some things that we can test before passengers board but it is only when we get passengers onboard that we can actually work through some of the teething issues.

“We are going through that process right now.”

Authorities say they anticipated issues may arise at the initial stages of light rail operation.

Despite the hiccups over the past couple of days, ACT Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris said the first days of the light rail being fully operational was a raging success.

“I am certainly aware of one incident this morning [23 April] where one light rail vehicle took some extra time to get into the city but I think in the scheme of the operation of light rail over the weekend and again this morning, it has gone very well.

“We will continue to learn and continue to bed down. As we have said, there is bedding down period for light rail that will continue over the coming weeks and months.

“We expect that Canberra Metro will be on top of any issues as they arrive and they have proven to be so far,” she said.

Ms Fitzharris also said that there are no plans in place to remove travel fees for the remainder of the week in light of the issues.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

One of the many negative texts through to 666 said that the carriages were stiflingly hot – in 24 degree heat! What will travel on the light rail service be like in the summer heat? (Unbearable)

Capital Retro11:36 am 26 Apr 19

There has never been a tram service operating in inland Australia before where temperatures will be between -5 and +40. The trams and infrastructure will fail under these conditions.

Capital Retro7:55 pm 24 Apr 19

Time to revisit a post a few years ago on RiotACT about a light rail that actually failed!
There are some disturbing parallels.

“The most recent failure of a light rail project was in Spain where Velez-Malaga council, in Spain’s south with a population of 75,000, shut down its light rail line after just six years of operation. Patronage on the line, which cost $60 million to build, fell from a high of 900,000 passengers a year in 2007 to just 700,000 before it was closed. Ironically, 3 of the trams have since been leased to NSW and they are running on the Dulwich Hill line. Notice the population of 75,000, which is about the same that Canberra’s light rail will service, was unable to sustain viability and patronage actually fell after it started.

I’ll bet the CAF Super-Euro-Tram salesmen didn’t tell Mr Barr and Mr Corbell about this.

I think you will find the issues with that system are not even close to be comparable. For example that line never made it to the city! And of course Spain was in serious economic hurt at the time too.

Also the 3 Urbos 2 trams (an earlier version of what Canberra and the inner west line in Sydney now have) were short term leased and have since been returned to Spain. Ps one was meant for Seville and was leased as it wasn’t needed due to the economic issues I mentioned.

Malcolm Street5:55 pm 25 Apr 19

1. The Spanish town’s total population was 75,000 – Canberra’s is over 400,000 and this is only the first line. Ultimately the network will cover the great majority of this catchment.

2. a parallel bus route was continued

3. the route didn’t go to the city centre

4. the trams were four carriages, twice the size of the Canberra ones.

5. it’s possible the line will be reactivated, with smaller trams.

6. Canberra’s population is growing rapidly.

It’s one of a massive collection of poorly planned Spanish white elephants.

Capital Retro11:33 am 26 Apr 19

But it only cost $60 million and it still failed? Canberra’s first leg has cost nearly $1 billion already and will lose millions each year of operation while serving only a fraction of Canberra’s population. serve the same number of people.

Based on $1.5 billion for 70,000 people the total cost of extending a tram network to the rest of Canberra will cost $9 billion. Get real.

HiddenDragon6:37 pm 24 Apr 19

Unless there are regular, and increasingly serious, incidents like this, it’s marginally relevant – at most – to the wisdom or otherwise of committing to this transport option.

The real issues in that regard are the same, now, as they were prior to the decision to commit – although the recent, and very pertinent, opinion piece by Jon Stanhope on the financial costs of the tram, and the opportunity costs of it (particularly in regard to our stretched health system) puts a sharper focus on what we’ve actually got for our money, and whether further lines should be built.

Capital Retro7:46 pm 24 Apr 19

Surveyors were today working on the road centre leading from Parliament House to Commonwealth Avenue so the commitment for Stage 2 appears to already been made.

I’ve always thought a dedicated Bus lane service was the way to go for Canberra, as Light Rail costs too much per user. But I’m with Canberra Transport and posters here that results have to be judged over the next year or two. No need for a knee jerk reaction.

We need to be provided with trustworthy open data that shows the number of commuters for each ride (not just averages), that way proper analysis can be undertaken to see if the outside peak hour trips and opposite direction trips are being properly utilised.

The ACT public transport data and routing information has been hidden and manipulated for too long. We can get a better public transport system, if we are provided with honest data that we can trust.

Capital Retro1:12 pm 24 Apr 19

“There’s always going to be minor issues with new capability.”

Capable of what, exactly?

Launching in a predictably quiet work week was no doubt the idea, given inevitable glitches.
My own experience thus far has been – announcements not working or too quiet; aircon not working at all or blowing furiously without achieving anything; out of action screens; clueless real time systems on platform.
Also experienced one trip where either the driver like to throw everyone around for fun, or the drive system needed some adjustment.

Capital Retro8:57 am 24 Apr 19

“These trams accelerate insanely quickly though.”

So do the Tesla battery cars. They also catch fire.

I must be related to nostradamus!

Months ago I predicted there would be a breakdown in the first few days of passenger operations and I predicted the negative uninformed comments I am reading now.

Capital Retro8:52 am 24 Apr 19

The word “breakdown” isn’t mentioned anywhere in the article which proves that you too can see through all the “teething problems” spin that Transport Canberra have been dishing out.

A breakdown is a teething problem. So not quite sure your point.

Capital Retro7:58 pm 24 Apr 19

All my children had teething problems when they were young but their teeth didn’t breakdown.

I was wrong, you have fallen for the spin after all.

I’m just glad the ACT Govt has nothing to do with the running of Canberra Airport. “Teething issues” could be catastrophic.

Capital Retro11:44 pm 23 Apr 19

Here I am embarrassed by bagging the ugly wires that surround Canberra trams, now assured that the problems could be worse if we had the same wireless models that Newcastle have:


While I was waiting at the Northbourne/Mouat/Antill lights at 6 pm a nearly empty tram went past heading for Gungahlin. You’d think from all the PR that it would have been full of Gungahlin people headed home from work. I’m very worried that this light rail is going to cost ALL Canberrans a very significant amount of money to subsidise – much more than we’ve been told.

Capital Retro8:55 am 24 Apr 19

At midday on Monday at the city end terminus I counted 6 people/passengers leaving on the Gungahlin tram. Even when it is free no one wants to get on it.

It’s a 3 day working week in school holidays- half of Canberra isn’t at work. Next week will be a better guide on patronage

Capital Retro1:11 pm 24 Apr 19

At the same time there are heaps of tourists in town and they appear to be international ones especially in the Parliamentary Triangle and they are on foot, not interested in the tram.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.