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Vehicle rolled out on to track as light rail testing set to start

By Ian Bushnell 18 June 2018 29
The Light Rail Vehicle out on the tracks earlier in the week ahead of testing. Photos: Supplied

The Light Rail Vehicle out on the tracks earlier in the week ahead of testing. Photos: Supplied.

Live testing of the first Light Rail Vehicle (LRV) between the Mitchell Depot and Gungahlin Town Centre is about to begin with an LRV last week pulled out on to the track in readiness.

The tram was dragged from its Mitchell depot minutes before midnight on Monday night towards Nullarbor Avenue in Gungahlin.

Ongoing construction work means energisation of the track and testing will initially only take place late at night and early in the morning at speeds as low as 5 km/h but over time, testing speeds will increase and incorporate high-speed brake tests during the day as well.

The energisation of the overhead wires means the light rail electrical equipment and infrastructure are powered with 750 volts of electricity.

Minister for Transport Canberra Meegan Fitzharris said that energisation would commence in the northern section of the corridor and be completed in stages along the 12 kilometre route over the following months.

“We are pleased to announce that we’ve reached an important milestone for this major project with testing of the light rail system to commence between the light rail terminus in Gungahlin and Nullarbor Avenue. It is exciting to think that very soon we will see one of our light rail vehicles travelling along the line, although for the first little while it will be at night only,” she said.

The LRV out on the tracks earlier in the week ahead of testing. Photos: Supplied

The LRV out on the tracks earlier last week ahead of testing. Photos: Supplied.

As the project enters into the testing and commissioning phase, Ms Fitzharris said safety was the main priority for the Government.

“Energisation is commencing and it is a timely reminder to the community that the overhead wires are live and carry 750 volts of power, so never come into contact with them. It is safe to walk, cycle and drive under the wires, but please only cross the light rail tracks at designated crossings and intersections,” she said.

During the testing phase, signage and traffic controls will be in place. The LRV will be stabled between the depot and Nullarbor Avenue during the day,

Despite Canberra Metro failing to meet all but one of its delivery targets this year, the Minister insisted that light rail would begin services as planned in December.

“There are always changes to key milestones when undertaking significant infrastructure projects on the scale of the light rail network,” she told ABC radio.

“However, the Government has been assured by Canberra Metro that the most important date — the completion date, is still planned for the end of 2018 — as reflected in the Budget papers.”

The Government has had to put back the laying of track and construction of the stops at each end of the line, and the building of a maintenance and control centre won’t be completed until August, instead of the original March target.

Seven of the 13-vehicle fleet have arrived in Canberra.


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29 Responses to
Vehicle rolled out on to track as light rail testing set to start
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Capital Retro 9:26 am 21 Jun 18

I wonder if they were testing it early this morning with frost on the rails.

Any wheel slips?

Lucy Baker 9:56 am 20 Jun 18

Why are the trams red and not CBR Yellow? that’s a real shame.

Susan Westwood 6:46 pm 18 Jun 18

Will it be noisy?

JC 3:27 pm 18 Jun 18

Ian at the point of being pedantic can I point something out? The tram was not dragged out of the depot it was towed.

Drag inferres doing something forcablly or roughly, tow would be the appropriate term though it doesn’t sound as melodramatic which is why I gather you used the word drag. If one of the wheels was locked up then drag might be appropriate but from all accounts the tow went well.

    Capital Retro 1:30 pm 21 Jun 18

    “Drag infers doing something forcibly or roughly, ……”

    Like the government getting more rate revenue from us to pay for the not-needed tram?

John Moulis 2:13 pm 18 Jun 18

I know it might be trite to say this, but that tram is ugly. I went to Melbourne in March and the trams there are aesthetically pleasing and have the words “Made in Melbourne for Melbourne” on the side. Why were our trams made in Spain? Did the Spaniards submit a tender which was two cents lower than the Melbourne one?

    JC 4:40 am 19 Jun 18

    Why. Firstly Canberra is being built and operated by a private operator in a PPP. The consortium that won has CAF as its member supplier of tram vehicle. That’s why CAF.

    Also Melbourne is a little bit special as you would have seen. They take pride and will pay through the roof to say something is Melbournian.

    Take trams for example. The E class which is what you are describing are essentially the same length and capacity as the Canberra ones.

    But as they have been designed and built to Melbourne standards (which I will get to in a moment) the cost per unit is rather high. The initial order of 50 vehicles cost $303m/$6.6m each, the second order for 20 cost $275m or $13.7m each and the last order for 10 more was $218m or $21.8m each. So average out over 80 the cost is just short of $10m a pop.

    Now the 14 Canberra trams have an order value of $65m or $4.65m each.

    So half the average price of the Melbourne ones and 1/4 the price of the latest batch of 10 which were ordered around the same time. So a bit more than 2cents difference you would think?

    Oh should say the Melbourne ones had 5 years maintenance factored into the price, Canberra the maintenance is part of the overall $707m contract to build/operate and finance for 20 years. But still massive price difference.

    Oh Melbourne does need a special design because they are a legacy tram network so have different and more varied operating environment. Canberra and new systems have the advanatage of better track and less legacy systems integration which makes things cheaper.

Capital Retro 10:51 am 18 Jun 18

The “re-arrangement” is the lifting of the front bumper bar to allow the towing yoke to be fitted. This may be a common sight in future.

I question the integrity of the sign writing “Your light rail is being tested” though. It is not “our” light rail – in fact it belongs to a Public Private Partnership which “we” will be paying for.

No doubt JC will howl me down on that one.

It’s a long time since we have heard from Damien.

    JC 3:16 pm 18 Jun 18

    No howling down because you are right. It doesn’t indeed very much belong to the public private partnership. Though the public are one of the stakeholders so your is still an accurate description.

    JC 3:32 pm 18 Jun 18

    Oh and re the “re-arrangement” of the front end. You say we are going to see that more and more. Are you by chance looking into a crystal ball and seeing demand being so high that the vehicles need to run as double units?

    Capital Retro 6:21 pm 18 Jun 18

    If two break down at the same time and there is only one tow truck I would say “yes”.

yosh 10:41 am 18 Jun 18

That’s a lot of money for 13 of these hoopties.

    Capital Retro 11:28 am 18 Jun 18

    Hey, that’s 13 “state-of-the-art” hoopties.

    Show some respect to our urban renewal visionaries, please.

    JC 4:44 am 19 Jun 18

    Actually there are meant to be 14 (first time I’ve seen 13 written) and see my post above about the cost. Canberra ones are good value compared to Melbourne’s 80 similar length and capacity “hoppties”

Mike Long 10:10 am 18 Jun 18

The front of that "Tram" looks like it has already been re-arranged.

Lucy Baker 9:17 am 18 Jun 18

December? When did it change from November 2018?

    Capital Retro 10:38 am 18 Jun 18

    I understood it was to be August 2018 – Actew had planned to finish all their work this month and indeed they couldn’t be testing if that wasn’t on schedule.

    I can’t see it being ready until early next year. We all know Canberra “closes” about mid-December every year and “re-opens” about mid-February the following year.

    JC 4:46 am 19 Jun 18

    When was it ever November or August? One of the complaints many have, including a serial naysayer on every Canberra Crimes article about this project is the government have never set an actual opening date other than the vague late 2018.

Capital Retro 8:46 am 18 Jun 18

Given that a heavy vehicle travelling at 70kmh takes over 100m to stop I wouldn’t like to be a Canberra tram driver because there are going to be a lot of Canberra drivers who will “chance it” at cross roads despite what colour the traffic lights are showing.

This report quotes the Minister saying “Capital Metro failed to meet all but one of it’s goals……” Hello, Capital Metro “disappeared” 2 years ago. Canberra Metro are the contractors.

Garfield 8:23 am 18 Jun 18

So track testing finally begins 3 months later than planned. My understanding is they had to divert resources from other parts of the project in order to finally reach that milestone, putting those other parts even further behind. According to the public transport lobby website, the service was supposed to start by August this year. Funny thing is they used to have a somewhat detailed breakdown of when various parts of the project would be completed, but that’s disappeared from the site in the last few months. The best estimates I’ve heard are that the project is at least 6 months behind overall, and some parts may be 12 months later than planned before they’re finally finished. I’m going to be surprised if its up and running by the end of the year.

    jsm2090 9:04 pm 19 Jun 18

    That’s ok! You could have our issue in NSW where the tram is over a year delayed, the contractor is suing the State Government in the Supreme Court, the rolling stock is not compatible between different lines, and the Government is still promising future light rail will be on time and on budget.

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