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.
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.