The ACT community is no closer to knowing when light rail will be operating from Gungahlin to the City, with Transport Canberra unable to provide a completion date and still saying the start date is ‘early in 2019’.
The start of the new bus network has been delayed until the beginning of the second school term in April, presumably so it can coordinate with light rail in the ACT ‘s integrated transport system.
Calling the present stage an exciting time for the project, Transport Canberra says testing of the vehicles is under way, with runs along Northbourne Avenue and the Federal Highway to Dickson.
It says this and the commissioning of the light rail system is now the primary focus as the project progresses to the commencement of passenger services.
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All 13 light rail stops will be completed soon, including the installation of ticketing machines and My Way card validators. Tree planting and landscaping will also be substantially completed in February.
Over the past month, Canberra Metro has been working on the light rail stops, including installing the seating, drinking fountains and security features such as CCTV and landscaping in the areas closest to the city.
Some of the transplanted trees have not survived, particularly with the recent hot spell, and some need to be replaced, but this won’t be done until it is considered appropriate.
The overhead wires between the Light Rail Depot at Mitchell and the Alinga Street Light Rail Terminus in the City have been energised and traffic lights at intersections along the light rail route have been adjusted to cater for light rail’s integration into the road system.
Transport Canberra says that before the system can be safely opened for operations, all elements of the infrastructure and system including the light rail vehicles, the track, signalling and passenger information systems must be rigorously assessed.
Testing will mostly take place between 5 am and 9 pm, with limited testing between 9 pm and 5 am.
The light rail vehicles at first run at low speeds, gradually travelling faster as each element of the light rail infrastructure is verified.
When testing of each light rail vehicle is complete, Canberra Metro drivers will begin their training and familiarisation along Northbourne Avenue and the Federal Highway.
No decision has been made on the route for Stage 2 of the network to Woden, although it seemed increasingly unlikely late last year that a pragmatic Government would stick with its preferred route through Parkes and Barton in the face of Federal opposition. It appeared that a more direct route to Woden may have to be taken.
“A substantial amount of work on Stage 2 has been continuing, including preparing materials to accompany various environmental and planning applications that will be made this year. The ACT Government anticipates making final decisions on the alignment this year,” a Transport Canberra spokesperson said.