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With 30,000 expected, $100,000 light rail launch party is worth it, says Minister

Ian Bushnell 15 April 2019 125

Getting ready: Two of the 14 light rail vehicles parked at Alinga Street in the City. Photos: George Tsotsos.

The ACT Government is expecting 30,000 people to turn out to ride the light rail when it launches on Saturday, and has defended spending more than $100,000 on throwing a community party for the public transport milestone.

The company that promotes and stages the Spilt Milk music festival has been awarded a $107,000 contract to plan and deliver community events at two hubs in the City and Gungahlin, where there will be live music, entertainment and food outlets.

Kicks Entertainment Pty Ltd will manage, among other things, performers, artists, presenters and community suppliers including food vendors in consultation with Transport Canberra and City Services.

Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris said that with thousands expected there would be safety issues and keeping them entertained while waiting to catch a light rail vehicle would assist this, as well as being a thank you to the Canberra community to mark the historic occasion.

“We know from other cities that large numbers of people will come out for the first day of light rail. This will happen with or without a celebratory event, so we will need traffic and queue management in place to keep people safe on day one regardless,” she said.

“A celebration event on day one will entertain people while they wait to ride light rail and commemorate this historic occasion, and be a thank you to the Canberra community.”

Ms Fitzharris said the Kicks Entertainment contract would cover managing the launch event, including running the site, entertainment and suppliers, as well as some queue management services.

She said a large number of ACT Government volunteers were also being trained to help the crowds and to make the first day of light rail a success.

Finishing touches were still being made and the final stages of the approval process were under way.

“The expectation is that these accreditations will be worked through in the next couple of days,” she said.

“More light rail features will be phased in over the coming weeks. This means the finishing touches to landscaping and road surfaces will continue, final permanent balustrades will be installed at intersections and any other minor issues that need work will be fixed by Canberra Metro at no cost to the Territory.

“The passenger experience will keep getting better as drivers get used to taking passengers and journey time and frequency continue to improve.”

Finishing touches were still being made.

After nearly three years, the 12km light rail stage 1 between the city and Gungahlin will open on Saturday with free travel until Easter Monday when paid services begin, but travel will be free again for a month on rail and bus when the new integrated transport network starts on 29 April.

The $700 million 13-stop project was due to be completed by Christmas 2018 but construction and accreditation delays blew out the starting date by four months.

The Community Launch event will take place on Saturday from 9 am till 4 pm with launch activities at both the Gungahlin Place and Alinga Street city stops welcoming passengers on board for a free ride.

Transport Canberra team members wearing red shirts and hats will assist passengers with getting on and off light rail at any of the 13 stops along the corridor.

Transport Canberra and City Services has issued a list of road closures and traffic arrangements for Saturday to allow safe queuing and entertainment in the City and Gungahlin Town Centre.

Sections of Northbourne Avenue and Gungahlin Town Centre will be closed to traffic to create a safe area for people to queue for light rail rides and enjoy entertainment.

There will also be traffic and queue management for safe access at other light rail stops. Canberrans travelling to these events are advised to use free public transport. Other motorists should avoid the areas or allow extra time for their journeys. There will also be park and ride options at GIO Stadium, CIT Bruce and the Treasury Building in Parkes.

The launch events will run from 9 am to 4 pm at Civic and Gungahlin. Passengers riding the light rail will have to get off the light rail at each terminus to give people waiting there a chance to board, but they will be able to enjoy entertainment while they wait at either end. To make more room for passengers, bikes won’t be allowed on board on launch day.

Light Rail Project Director Meghan Oldfield said the launch of light rail was an exciting milestone in Canberra’s history.

“We want to make sure people can safely queue to ride light rail when it opens on Saturday 20 April,” Light Rail Project Director Meghan Oldfield said.

“People need to be aware that a number of road closures will be in place that will cause delays, particularly in the City, which will make it important for people to be patient and consider alternative routes.

“We’re urging the community to plan ahead and make plenty of time to reach their destinations if travelling through the City.

“Better yet, why not leave the car at home and take advantage of free buses across the network to get you to and from the event.

“Traffic controllers will be on site to guide motorists, cyclists and pedestrians through the area and barriers as well as warning and detour signs will be erected to alert people to the road closures and changed traffic conditions.”

Road closure locations and timing

City: 4 am Saturday 20 April – 6 am Sunday 21 April

  • Road closures will take place in the City between London Circuit and Barry Drive from 4 am on Saturday 20 April with roads re-opening by 6 am on Sunday 21 April.
  • Road signage will indicate northbound detours onto London Circuit and southbound detours onto Barry Drive or Cooyong Streets.

Gungahlin: 9 pm on Friday 19th April to 6 am on Sunday 21 April.

  • Road closures will take place in the Gungahlin Town Centre at Gungahlin Place, Hibberson and Ernest Cavanagh Streets.on streets surrounding the light rail stop and the interchange from 9 pm on Friday 19 April to 6 am on Sunday 21 April.
  • Road users should take note of road signage which will have detours in place.

Along the light rail corridor

  • Motorists intent on travelling near the light rail alignment during the light rail launch are encouraged to note changed traffic conditions and reduced speed limits, particularly on Northbourne Avenue.

For more information on the light rail launch visit

For site maps visit:

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127 Responses to With 30,000 expected, $100,000 light rail launch party is worth it, says Minister
Hilary Brazel Hilary Brazel 10:50 pm 15 Apr 19

Kate Anastassia are you going to be home in time for the big event?

    Kate Anastassia Kate Anastassia 10:37 am 16 Apr 19

    No but genuinely so sad about it this is 💯 my jam

Alysia Smith Alysia Smith 9:50 pm 15 Apr 19

Jeffrey Alexander forget Easter

Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 9:47 pm 15 Apr 19

The Lanyon Valley Steam and Electric Tramway will not be operating on Saturday. The CEO will be out and about in his anorak with note pad and pencil recording tram numbers.

Milka Santrač Milka Santrač 9:24 pm 15 Apr 19

The comments! 😭😭😭🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️ Dejan

Amy Donaldson Amy Donaldson 9:14 pm 15 Apr 19

Too bad you'll miss it Grant 😂

gooterz 9:06 pm 15 Apr 19

$100,000 saved from all the buses they canned.

A government that does whatever they want, whenever they want.

    JC 5:59 am 17 Apr 19

    There is no savings from the buses because there are actually MORE buses in the new network.

Daniel Van de Zandt Daniel Van de Zandt 9:00 pm 15 Apr 19

How about not wasting that money and put it into the health system. This government is terrible. The transport/health minister is useless. The chief minister is showing no care by keeping minister fitzharris around.

    Clarrie Crawford Clarrie Crawford 7:18 pm 17 Apr 19

    This overpaid tin pot council will be lucky to get in again. Good riddance Mr Barr.

Denis Svob Denis Svob 8:47 pm 15 Apr 19

Sucked in to all the light rail haters. 😃

Lucy Baker 8:40 pm 15 Apr 19

The trip is going to take 24 minutes. How long does it take by car from Gungahlin to Civic via the Ebden/Chisholm Street rat race?

    JC 6:08 am 17 Apr 19

    Pssst. Don’t tell anyone but believe the official trip time is now 26 minutes.

    Oh and the better comparison is the bus which in peak hour can have a timetabled trip time of over 40 mins.

    Maya123 4:05 pm 17 Apr 19

    But many against light-rail wouldn't know this, as to know this, one must actually use public transport...and in peak hour. Not just check a timetable to make their argument.

    JC 6:15 pm 17 Apr 19

    They would also know that buses along Flemington road and Northborne Ave in peak hour are often so full they display a bus full sign and don’t stop to pick up passengers.

Michael James Michael James 8:34 pm 15 Apr 19

I reckon it’s fantastic.👌

Eleanor Glenn-Doyle Eleanor Glenn-Doyle 8:11 pm 15 Apr 19

Olivia Thomas cancel all plans we have a launch party to attend

Andrew Brien Andrew Brien 7:39 pm 15 Apr 19

well done light rail. celebration for sure. lets move forward and get this bad boy rolling. Gungahlin cant wait to kick off 👍

Karen Feng Karen Feng 7:33 pm 15 Apr 19

WHAT 😠😠😠 when is this party?

EVERYONE. grab a large cooler bag.

Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 7:27 pm 15 Apr 19

I am really excited! I want to ride it to work

June Kirk June Kirk 7:25 pm 15 Apr 19

While the Government celebrates its tram with a party, this is a bus stop on Antill Street Watson. A street that is now a speedsters rat race to avoid Northbourne Avenue, it’s quite a contrast, don’t you think 🤔 I certainly wouldn’t feel safe standing there waiting for a bus.

    Tracy Robinson Tracy Robinson 7:59 pm 15 Apr 19

    June Kirk Not one the best bus stops in Canberra that’s for sure.

    June Kirk June Kirk 8:00 pm 15 Apr 19

    Tracy Robinson it’s dreadful isn’t it 🙄

    John Wilson John Wilson 10:01 pm 15 Apr 19

    Just needs a sofa and it would be good to go! :-)

    Michele Mustillo Michele Mustillo 5:44 pm 16 Apr 19

    June Kirk looks like the bus stops in some of the third countries visited. Is this really in the bush in Australia?. I keep hearing that Australia is the most advanced civilizations in the universe.

Mike Wedderburn Mike Wedderburn 7:22 pm 15 Apr 19

Wayne, you are cordially invited to....

    Teddy Cornetti Teddy Cornetti 7:55 am 16 Apr 19

    Mike Wedderburn if the opening of light rail gets more people than a raiders game, the NRL has truly lost its way

    Wayne McArdle Wayne McArdle 3:10 pm 16 Apr 19

    Mike Wedderburn I think this is more of a Daniel Boettcher event.

Barton West Barton West 7:12 pm 15 Apr 19

count me out - 29999 now - better adjust the budget to

Garry Peadon Garry Peadon 7:04 pm 15 Apr 19

30000?? 😆😆. Pretty sure everyone will be down the coast

Martin Leonard Martin Leonard 7:02 pm 15 Apr 19

Tuggeranong residents, any comment?

    Russell Kirkpatrick Russell Kirkpatrick 7:36 pm 15 Apr 19

    Yes, Wanniassan here. A party's a great idea. We don't celebrate our achievements nearly enough. As for all the things that haven't been done - bus stops, playgrounds etc - they come out of different budgets. Not good enough, but not relevant.

    Martin Leonard Martin Leonard 7:50 pm 15 Apr 19

    Russell Kirkpatrick What he said:

    Dan Rayner Dan Rayner 8:10 pm 15 Apr 19

    Chill out. It’ll get to Tuggeranong in due time, but it had to start somewhere.

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 8:25 pm 15 Apr 19

    Tuggeranong residents like myself will benefit, because I'll still be able to find a carpark for decades to come and cost of carparking is less likely to go up. Plus all the high density living will be on northbourne and not where I'm living. Plenty of positives for Tuggeranong. Also we have the best roads in Canberra already.

    Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 9:51 pm 15 Apr 19

    Martin Leonard there is already a tramway operating in Tuggeranong. The Lanyon Valley Steam and Electric Tramway.... Cost a lot less to set up.

    Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 10:48 pm 15 Apr 19

    Justin Watson I'm not sure your vision will be reality. Car parking will go up because the ACT government sets prices and they will try and encourage more people into public transport. As for Tuggeranong having the best roads in Canberra, you mustn't be travelling the same single lane main roads and roundabouts in peak hour as me. Athlonn Dr, Tharwa Dr, Johnson Dr, Erindale Dr, Sulwood Dr, takes me 15 minutes just to leave Tuggeranong. The Road around the new apartments opposite Bunnings Greenway is a nightmare. The multi lane Belco roads are much quicker for me.

    Denis Svob Denis Svob 5:30 pm 16 Apr 19

    Martin Leonard patience, Rome wasn’t built in a day

    Martin Leonard Martin Leonard 5:40 pm 16 Apr 19

    Denis Svob It was burned in one though.

Sarah Beatty Sarah Beatty 6:55 pm 15 Apr 19

Why don’t you use the 100k to start the next part of the great rail disaster! What a waste!

    Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 7:27 pm 15 Apr 19

    How is this a disaster?

    Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 4:25 pm 16 Apr 19

    Infrastructure costs money regardless. Gungahlin is the fastest growing suburb in the country so it makes sense to start there. I do agree that Gungahlin is a bit of a mess but light rail will help

    Kieran Vassallo Kieran Vassallo 1:19 pm 18 Apr 19

    Russell Nankervis very true, whether the money is well spent or not is a seperate issue. A dedicated bus lane in exactly the same location would have saved millions, now and into the future and achieved the same outcome, maybe better...

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