Canberra Metro hosted a small media function on Friday march 1st to show off the completed Mitchell light rail depot that will house the first fourteen light rail vehicles (LRV’s) for Canberras light rail network. Located in Mitchell, about half way along the route, the light rail depot contains a control centre, a workshop, offices, cleaning facilities and a rail yard. It has taken 31 months from sod turning to becoming fully operational (although it has been used as a workshop for around a year).
The light rail control centre has realtime monitoring of LRV’s, and of the CCTV on the vehicles and at stations along the line. All vehicles are monitored, and their location along the network can be observed from several different types of linked software. LRV operating parameters can also be monitored. Audio messages can be made to one or all vehicles from the control centre. Intersections along the route are also under CCTV monitoring, so any collisions can be monitored, and emergency vehicles despatched.
At the media event, Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA said that she was confident that light rail operations would commence in April. There will be a free weekend of public transport across Canberra (I think this means that light rail will commence on a Saturday) when this occurs.
Canberra Metro CEO Glenn Stockton discussed the regulatory approvals process, saying he was confident that the light rail route would gain approval for a late April commencement of operation.
Between now and the opening date, the ACT Government and Canberra Metro (who have built the network) must sign off on contractual requirements. In addition the federal government regulator must sign off on the licence to operate an electrical network, and accreditation to operate a passenger railway.
Canberra Metro operations has received a rebranding and will be known as CMET. Some of the customer relations staff attending the opening, had CMET branding on their clothes.
The media covered the opening and the announcement that new traffic arrangement around light rail and road intersections now apply.
On Wednesday morning the Chief Minister Andrew Barr, MLA Shane Rattenbury and Canberra Metro CEO Glenn Stockton, officially launched the first CAF Light Rail Vehicle for Canberra’s light rail network at the (almost completed) Canberra Metro light rail depot at Mitchell.
As a significant milestone for this important transport infrastructure project, the remarks by both the Chief Minister and Shane Rattenbury were focused on city building and the transformative nature of light rail. It was a confident delivery of a key election commitment, and that satisfaction was evident today. Glenn Stockton also spoke about the pride he had in his workforce in delivering the project for Canberra and that it would be delivered on time.
Todays launch clearly shows that progress on light rail stage one is continuing and on schedule for service to commence in late 2018. A second stage of the light rail network is currently being designed and worked through (the business case is imminent). The PTCBR is supportive of this as it will provide superior public transport options to Canberra’s residents, and drive the transformation of Canberra from car dependency to a more livable compact city.
“Mr Barr said the LRV’s unveiling was an important milestone and another practical example of progress on the project and of the Government meeting its election commitments.
He said that with Canberra’s population heading towards half a million it was crucial to invest in transport infrastructure now.
“That’s why we’re continuing to work on Stage 2 of light rail together with further investments and initiatives to improve transportation within the city,” he said.
He said the sceptics had been proved wrong and he was particularly pleased with the rejuvenation of the Northbourne corridor which is occurring faster than expected.
“There were many sceptics in the lead-up to the procurement of this project and many people said I wouldn’t be standing here as Chief Minister after the last election as a result of our advocacy for this project,” he said.
“Those sceptics also said there wouldn’t be the sort of investment and renewal in the Northbourne corridor we’re witnessing.”
He said there would a continued focus on public transport improvement, with light rail at the centre, including more rapid bus routes, improved demand responsive transport and more active transport options.
“It’s all part of making Canberra an easier city to get around and a better city to live in,” Mr Barr said.
The ACT Greens’ Cabinet Minister Shane Rattenbury said the Canberra LRV was the first in Australia to have a dedicated space for bicycles and was part of the strategy to provide as many options and as much connectivity as possible.
“I think well see people using light rail as their central transport spine, particularly when Stage 2 to Woden is complete,” he said.
Mr Rattenbury could even see bikeshare services install racks at light rail stops.
He said travelling to and from Gungahlin would be much easier and the Government was now considering a stop at Mitchell, where traders have been campaigning not to be bypassed.
“This is a really important part of shaping our city for the future. This is about providing modern environmentally friendly transport alternatives for Canberrans,” Mr Rattenbury said.”
“Canberra Metro chief executive Glenn Stockton said one tram a week will start arriving in Canberra from the end of March, with testing on an electrified track to begin in April. “
“Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who revealed he’d nicknamed the tram Cam in what could be seen as a nod to the Can-The-Tram movement, said there was a degree of satisfaction in seeing the project reach this stage.
“Let’s be frank, there were many sceptics in the lead up to the procurement of this project. Many people said I wouldn’t be standing here as Chief Minister after the last election as a result of our advocacy for this project.
“Those sceptics also said there wouldn’t be this sort of investment and renewal of the Northbourne corridor we’re currently witnessing so there’s a strong sense of satisfaction but we’ve still got a way to go, we’ve got a second stage of this project to work through in the context of this parliamentary term and there’s a lot more new investment coming for Canberra and a continued focus on public transport improvement.”
Mr Barr said the business case for the second stage of the project would be looked at when cabinet reconvened later in January.
“Let me be very clear we are committed to further stages of Canberra’s light rail network. We’ve committed in the last election to stage two and my mind is of course turning to stage three and beyond,” Mr Barr said.
More photos below…
The red Transport Canberra livery is quite attractive. No advertising will be seen on Canberra’s light rail vehicles (at least in this term of government)
The physical size of the vehicle was remarked upon by many people present. Parked next to a bus, its size will be quite evident. That is largely because it is designed to carry 200 plus passengers, as opposed to 80 on a bus.
Making the vehicle ready for service requires all OH&S and transport regulation signage being applied.
You don’t want to lose parts!
The Mitchell depot is still being fitted out.
Always useful to have a crane in a heavy vehicle depot.
I think the Chief Minister is asking where the ignition keys are…
Light rail stage one construction by Canberra Metro is well underway, with tracks being laid and the depot in Mitchell approaching completion. In the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday 14th Sep, Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA read out a list of Canberra companies that are helping to build light rail stage one. She advised the Assembly that:
58% of the contracts for stage one have been let to Canberra owned companies.
Of the 137 local contracts, they are shared between 114 local companies.
That is a great result for a project where one of the objectives was to grow local expertise in building light rail.
Since work began on light rail stage one along the Flemington Road and Northourne Avenue corridors, the installation of rail has been seen as a significant milestone. The contract between the ACT Government and Canberra Metro specified rails in the ground in July as a KPI. And they were.
Several test sections were laid in July, and as the workforce assembled for the construction has been building its skillset, the rails are due to be permanently installed from next month. The first images below are of the rails as they appear now, and largely as they will appear when service commences.
The last images are of the initial test sections, and show how they are laid and installed into the surface bed. The surface rust will disappear once light rail vehicles start running along the rails.