19 April 2019

Key numbers and milestones to remember ahead of light rail launch

| Lachlan Roberts
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Do you know how many hours LRV drivers will drive for every week? Photo: George Tsotsos.

It has been a 1,092-day wait but the first stage of Canberra’s light rail will be ready this Saturday morning (20 April) to take locals on their first ever ride.

The ACT Government is expecting 30,000 people to turn out to ride the first light rail and has allocated more than $100,000 for a community party to mark the public transport milestone.

Before you board your first trip on a LRV this weekend, here are some key dates and numbers to remember:

  • Since construction first started on 12 July 2016, nearly 5,000 people have worked on the project, with more than 70 per cent of the project workforce coming from Canberra and the surrounding region.
  • It was 385 days between the first and last of the permanent rail for the project was laid, with workers laying 26km of rail and planting over 1200 trees.

Canberra’s first light rail vehicle arrived in Australia by ship. File photo.

  • The first of the 14 light rail vehicles arrived from Spain and was given a police escort into the capital in the early hours of 13 December 2017. Less than 24 hours later, it was vandalised.
  • Each light rail vehicle is 33 metres long and can carry 207 passengers and seat 66 passengers. They are equipped with heating and air-conditioning systems, Wi-Fi, two priority seats, two dedicated spaces for wheelchairs and four bike racks.
  • The seat fabric onboard the LRVs features artwork from Uncle Jimmy Williams that depicts the flight of the bogong moth, an insect that is culturally significant to the local Ngunnawal people.

Hannah Quinlivan’s artwork featured on the glazed screens at each platform was chosen based on the artist’s passion for creating works that reflect Canberra’s landscape. Photo: George Tsotsos.

  • Stage one of the light rail is 12 kilometres long, has 13 stops with 442 CCTV cameras along the route. It will take just 24 minutes to travel from Gungahlin Terminus to Alinga St Terminus.
  • Each week, the LRVs will complete 1,494 trips of alignment, travel almost 18,000km – which is more than a full trip around Australia – travel through 38,000 intersections and stop at 19,000 stops. Drivers will clock 747 driving hours every week.

LRV run times

Monday to Thursday 6 am to 11:30 pm
Friday and Saturday 6 am to 1 am
Sunday and Public Holiday 8 am to 11:30 pm

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Capital Retro5:55 pm 27 Apr 19

Canberra Metro, the consortium who has built and will maintain the trams for a number of years will make heaps.

Nowhere in history has a government who has done a PPP on a tram project ever come out on top. There are some monumental financial disasters and this one will be another.

HiddenDragon6:24 pm 20 Apr 19

“The seat fabric onboard the LRVs features artwork from Uncle Jimmy Williams that depicts the flight of the bogong moth, an insect that is culturally significant to the local Ngunnawal people.”

That’s actually a very nice touch. But, just like the breathlessly reported details in today’s CT article about the colour of the overhead wire poles, it’s basically irrelevant to all the Canberrans who will have little or no use for trams – not because, as the boosters would have it, they are troglodytes, BANANAs, “Tuggeranong Pensioners” etc. etc. but, for instance, because they are very unlikely ever to live near a tramline and are more focused on minor details like paying the utility bills and the mortgage and the rapidly rising ACT Government Rates and other charges which will be needed to cross-subsidise this clunky, costly, legacy transport system.

Some of those people may have benefited from more flexible and dispersed public transport alternatives, but there simply won’t be the resources to do that now that we have been locked into one option by the tram cultists.

They actually increased the number of buses in Network 19 although there have been winners and losers with some areas missing out and Xpresso services being cut. And just because the current line covers Gungahlin, the inner north and Civic, and not Belconnen, Tuggeranong and the inner north, doesn’t mean those suburbs are forever excluded, as they had to start somewhere with the light rail network. And blaming the Light Rail for everything from mortgage payment to bunions is a bit of tired old argument now. Life goes on regardless and Canberra was always going to need a more diverse transport system eventually. Yes, infrastructure does cost but so does the huge road network that you probably like to use.

Capital Retro11:41 am 21 Apr 19

You have conveniently omitted to acknowledge that the tram rails are using the corridor created when the roads each side were built, so how much of that cost wasn’t picked up by the tram construction coast and if it was capitalised into the project how many more $billions would have it cost?

And I challenge your claim that “Canberra was always going to need a more diverse transport system eventually” because the tram is all about urban renewal – it has nothing to do with public transport.

No actually it’s about public transport. Just as it is in other capital cities. The urban renewal occurs along the transport corridors and accommodates a growing population. The light rail doesn’t make the population increase, that’s an economic reality.

Clutching at straws now. You are saying because Flemmington road was built with a wider median that somehow that cost (if there is actually a cost) should be added to the cost of light rail to show the true cost? Do I have that right?

Back in an alternative universe called reality many would consider that to be planning ahead. Well done to the ACT (Liberal) government at the time for designing Flemmington road with the future in mind.

Capital Retro8:39 am 22 Apr 19

At the Light Rail 2017 conference on Queensland’s Gold Coast, Duncan Edghill, deputy director-general of Transport Canberra opened his speech by saying “Why do light rail in Canberra?”. He then answered his own question by saying “for us it’s not about public transport; it’s about urban regeneration” (Source Track+Signal, April-June 2017)

Since then, his claim has been confirmed several times by others in Transport Canberra so stop trying to muddy the waters.

Capital Retro8:46 am 22 Apr 19

No, I’m not clutching at straws JC, I am stating an economic reality, that being a 4 lane, undivided road vehicle thoroughfare is much cheaper to build than one separated by a median strip and to suggest the ACT Liberal government had foresight in mind when they designed Flemington Road by including a median strip is another “milestone in fantasy” for the spin you and your minders create in defending the indefensible .

hi retro, haven’t been able to locate the quote you mentioned although if you are attempting to suggest that public transport isn’t about pubic transport I don’t think it’s going to work.

Capital Retro8:24 pm 22 Apr 19

If you are suggesting I am a liar because if you are I am happy to send a copy of the article to RiotAct or better still, why don’t you ask Duncan Edghill himself, after all, he is the one that said it.

Not at all, simply stating that, without reading the speech in full, it isn’t possible to establish the context in which the sentence was made. Certainly there are more benefits to the project than just public transport but to say that this means that a light rail system isn’t public transport is lacking in logic.

Ah no it isn’t spin. The design of that area of Gungahlin was the work of the Carnell liberal government, and even as long ago as when they were in power they designed Flemington Ave as a high(er) density commuting corridor which allowed for the provision of light rail at a latter date. The extra width which allowed it to go in so easy along the Gungahlin to Well Station Drive section being obvious testament to that.

And I t is for this reason that Flemmington road runs whack bang into the centre of the town centre rather than the more logical (from an arterial road use perspective) to have run through to Mirrabei Drive and bypassed the town centre with smaller roads running off it.

It’s rather funny that many carry on about Barr being so beholden to developers, but fail to recognise all governments including liberal ones (like Carnell and the NSW libs for example) have to work with developers, in the case of the design of Flemington road it was Bob Wynell of Village Building Co who had a lot of influence over the government and the then urban services minister Tony DeDominico.

And PS I have no minder unless you are talking about my wife.

Capital Retro I am still surprised that people somehow carry on like pork chops over light rail and then come across the revelation that for the most part it was about urban renewal.

One would think for one to form such strong opposition to something like light rail then one would actually inform themselves on what the project they object to so much. In this case if said opponents had of informed themselves by reading the business case then this would not be such a revelation. It would also answer how the thing ends up with a positive cost benifit ratio which goes a long way to show how the thing “pays” its way.

Capital Retro9:54 am 27 Apr 19

I suggest you contact editorial at RiotACT as I have sent the details of Mr Edghill’s speech to them. You will be hard pressed to introduce “context” into the debate but let me know anyhow.

Capital Retro10:05 am 27 Apr 19

Your colleague astro2 still insists the Canberra light rail system is public transport. You correctly state that it is a tool in the business case for urban renewal.

It was “sold” to Canberrans as public transport initially but after the decision was made to go ahead a very dodgy business case supported by inept political enthusiasts was created to justify it.

My opposition is founded on the belief that neither a light rail or a massive urban renewal venture was needed. There will be no “positive cost benefit” to the Territory either.

Capital Retro5:51 pm 27 Apr 19

I concede that the Flemington road design happened under a (rare) Canberra Liberal government but all the input was done by planners, not politicians. The Liberals wouldn’t even know that a tram is bi-directional.

Geez, Tony DeDominico, that’s real ancient history. Regards to your wife.

Hi Capital, you are confusing the benefits of the light rail project ( urban renewal) with what the light rail is (public transport). I suggest you try asking Transport ACT what the light rail is and I can assure you that they will (patiently) inform you that it is public transport. So is the light rail in Sydney, the Gold Coast and Newcastle. You may not like the light rail project but it doesn’t change the fact that it is, indeed, pubic transport.

Capital Retro1:24 pm 29 Apr 19

What part of “in Canberra light rail isn’t about public transport, it’s about urban regeneration” don’t you understand?

I didn’t say it; the person in charge of Transport Canberra did.

Take it up with Mr. Edghill.

What are the metrics that will be used to determine if it is successful?

Public transport almost never seems to make a profit, so it is unreasonable to assume the light rail will be profitable. But what is the loss amount per year that it has to be under in order to be judged a success?

Success will be if the ACT Government meet their goal of 16% public transport trips by 2026.

We are currently around 8% ??? which “I think???” is less than the 10% we were at in Canberra, before the ACT Government stuffed the Bus routes around in the early 2000s. Another big loss of local bus to work commutes was the percentage shift of jobs from town centres like Woden and Tuggeranong out to the airport and into all the new office buildings in Civic.

Stage 2 light rail should hopefully encourage jobs back into the Woden town centre.

I’d suggest it will be considered successful if the Greens keep on supporting a Labor MLA for Chief Minister after the next election.

As far as ACT taxpayers are concerned, it’s so much more expensive than the BRT option that should have been selected that true success is not possible.

What are the metrics used to determine if the cost of the road network is successful? What sort of profit does it make? What is the loss amount per year for maintaining this costly network of roads to hook up with every single house in a the ACT?

Major road projects such as the GDE, Majura parkway, Ashley Drive duplication are designed to make transport times faster.

Presumably though we don’t get to generally see the results, the government does do a review of the projects. It is also quite obvious to the road users if the project has improved the traffic flow.

So change in commute times for all categories of user: office commuters, light industry (such as tradies), heavy industry (such as big trucks) gives good metrics as to whether a road project was successful.

I’m sure the government bean counters even have a way of assigning a dollar value to every minute of travel time.

That metric would work for major roads but would make all the hundreds of minor roads unviable. Taken as a whole the road network (as opposed to some individual well-used roads) isn’t a good economic proposition.

Capital Retro9:14 am 22 Apr 19

We should ban roundabouts then as they only produce spin.

However roads are an essential. I need them to get to my home. Tradies need them to get their equipment to my home and to businesses along the light rail route. Rubbish trucks need them to get everywhere. Ambulances, fire trucks, police cars etc need them. They can’t operate via light rail.

The light rail is not essential. It is an optional huge ticket item.

Now it may prove to be a good return on investment. But it may prove to be a white elephant. Surely before we look at extending it, or claiming it is a success, we need some way of objectively measuring that.

It seems likely the Government will claim it a success and use that claim to justify its extension, but our government is not very trustworthy. We need metrics to try and keep out government honest.

Transport is an essential but not necessarily private car transport. light rail is essential if you use it to get to work, Rail freight may be essential or it may be road freight. The road network is a huge ticket item whichever way you look at it. Most people thing their mode of transport is essential and they are probably all correct – it is essential for them.

Light rail is not essential. We didn’t have it a week ago and there are much larger cities that do not have a similar system.

Roads are essential. There are so many things that rail cannot do. It may be nice and potentially very valuable to have a rail system but not essential.
Our light rail system could be replaced by a dedicated bus route. The light rail cannot replace all the roads in Canberra.

Transport is essential and a conduit in which to conduct transport is also essential – that conduit may be rail or road. So it’s not correct to say that one is more essential than the other. It depends on the prevailing conditions as to which mode is more suitable for the purpose.

Are you serious or just being a troll?

Please explain how your rubbish would get taken away without roads, or an ambulance get to your place or five cubic metres of soil for landscaping?

That is why roads are essential.

The light rail may (and that is yet to be proven) do things better than buses would on a dedicated bus lane, but better is not the same as essential.

Capital Retro9:49 am 27 Apr 19

Private motorists users pay substantial fees and taxes for the use of roads they drive on. Their rates also contribute to maintenance of same.

I wouldn’t think that the public transport busses and the “urban regeneration” trams pay anything though.

HI Spiral, if you read my post you would see that i have said that Not all Roads are Essential. (not that roads per se are not essential) Perhaps ask yourself if mobile phones are essential. most people would say ‘Yes’. However not long ago, we didn’t have mobile phones and life went on. So as times change different commodities become essential or non-essential. The point remains that if you need to catch a train or light rail to get to work, then the rail line is essential. (Also essential in transporting minerals from mines to ports).

Road maintenance comes from general taxation. If you pay taxes, you pay for the roads regardless of whether you own one or two or a dozen motor vehicles. (Same as hospitals, if you pay taxes you pay for them regardless of whether you use them or not.) And schools. That’s how the system works.

I would like to know what is the current, estimated cost of the Light Rail Project?

I have been unable to find an answer to this question on the Internet. Most published figures are at least a couple of years out of date.

You need to be a little more specific when you talk about cost, because this not not like building a building and handing over cash.

It is a build, operate transfer contract of which there is a build component which is not paid up front in full, which I saw on the news will end up lower than what was signed into the contract, then there is 20 years of running and finance.

It’s for this reason that many can get away with quoting figures that are plain silly like the post below that said $1.8b, even if that does end up being the price what exactly does it mean. Because the value of $1.8b when the payments are spread over 20 years is not the same as handing over $1.8b today.

Bit like buying a house and paying off a mortgage. Except for interest rate variations you payments are fixed and don’t vary, but the value of $1 when you first sign is different to the value on the day you pay it off.

A 666 listener texted in that his drive down Northbourne is already nine minutes longer than it used to be. This is, of course, the government trying to force drivers onto light rail. Ainslie residents have noticed a huge upswing in the number of commuters driving along Paterson/Chisholm, Hawdon/Sherbrook and Ebden Streets to avoid Northbourne. People want to drive. They’ll suck up the extra commute time or use suburban streets to avoid light rail – which, by the way, is going to cost five dollars a trip for anyone paying cash. The 12-kilometre trip would cost me about $1.50 in petrol.

Capital Retro8:30 am 20 Apr 19

You are correct and living in the areas adjacent to Northbourne Avenue will now be a nightmare for residents there.

I also want to call out the government and their tram supporters for changing Canberra’s history about W B Griffin’s transport plans for rail. Griffin advocated simply “rail” for main thoroughfares in Canberra, not “light rail” which was not “invented” until the 1960’s.

Indeed, it is debatable that what we have now is even a “light rail”, rather it is a tram service. It is certainly not a “light rail network” as referred to to on ABC 666 Radio this morning.

Whilst I will agree that it is a tad of an over reach to say what has been delivered was part of the Burley Griffin plan, I would like to make two points.

First tramways were part of his plan these as many of the opponents of light rail have reminded us have been around for well over 100 years. On Griffins plan they were call street cars (obviously the US term for tram) and one was indeed on the plan running down Northborne Ave to the manufacturing section which is basically what we now know as Dickson and Lyneham near the McAuthur Ave intersection. If you look at those plans you will see what is essentially a mirror of Civic with a road similar to London circuit which the streetcar was to traverse before heading back towards civic.

This is different to heavy rail which was also on his plan, one line was running through Braddon parallel to Northborne Ave past the manufacturing section towards the north.

Secondly light rail of course is a modern term and in the European/Australian context (which is different from the us context) is basically a tramway that runs in its own reserve (as to on the road) and generally stops left frequently at stations. So yes the griffin plan didn’t have light rail but it did have something very similar any argument would be semantics.

If you are going to compare a worse case cash fare to your car trip, then you might want to double you $1.50 in petrol to cover the other costs of running a car and add at least $11 a day for city car parking. .

That makes the cash fare look reasonable and the $3.22 myway fare which all regular commuters would use and pay seem even more reasonable.

You didn’t mention that more than 90% of that workforce was male.

Which mirrors the percentage of females in the construction industry in general. So your point is?

A key number was left off. $1.8 bn for the construction and operation of stage 1 over 20 years, more than double what a bus rapid transit system would have cost. That cost differential could have covered the cost of the new hospital building that Labor promised in 2012, then shelved after the election and then re promised in 2016 with construction supposedly going to start around 2022.

Very well said

The numbers get better all the time! Next someone will say $2b.

JC, $1.8bn is the cost calculated by the ACT Auditor General when they reviewed the project, and is therefore free of bias. The comparison cost for BRT is based on the government’s own calculations, the ones they tried not to release when they were requested under freedom of information by the Canberra Times.

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