Canberra light rail starts carrying the public on a preview and launch day

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Golden Ticket for the first public light rail passengers

On 18 April 2019 light rail began carrying members of the Canberra public along light rail stage one from Gungahlin to Civic. The ACT Government combined the official launch and letting the public ride and experience the light rail by holding a community ballot, where several hundred people won Golden Tickets, letting them on the first service. This ‘soft launch’ was also to be a test ahead of the official opening on Saturday 20 April.

The launch came the day after the national rail safety regulator accredited the network for operation, and on the day that the ACT Government announced that the light rail project came in at $707 million dollars, $76 million dollars under budget.

It was a fairly simple day with Golden Ticket winners advised to arrive at a specific stop (Gungahlin, Dickson or Civic), have their name checked off, and then wait for their vehicle to leave. It would then travel to Civic (or for the lucky passengers that left from Gungahlin, they did a complete return journey) where people could either travel back to Dickson or Gungahlin, or wait for the plaque to be unveiled. After the unveiling (and press conference) there was a light lunch for invited guests where a cake was cut and consumed (see photo further down…)!

Leaving simultaneously from Gungahlin, Dickson and Civic, these first light rail services left around midday carrying Golden Ticket winners from the public, invited guests, many members of the media, Canberra Metro staff, Transport Canberra and ACT public service executives and ACT Government MLA’s.

The excited passengers waited at each of the three major stops, boarded and set out for the first trip! Some stayed to observe the political events, but most went excitedly about the rest of their day, after being lucky enough to be on the very first trip on Canberra’s brand new light rail. Several PTCBR members attended and were fortunate to be invited to the launch and the lunch.

For people that have been campaigning for light rail in Canberra, and better public transport for many years it was a truly momentous experience. Riding in a brand new light rail vehicle, from Gungahlin to Civic, was very satisfying. It has already started to change Canberra for the better, and will for the next century.All the people associated with ACT Light Rail Coalition, ACT Light Rail and the PTCBR should be proud of the hard work they have put in over the last two decades.

The ACT Government deserve the credit for this, it has been a long hard slog with much political skin shed to get from an idea floated by former Transport Minister Simon Corbell, to a plaque being unveiled at the official opening by Chief Minister Andrew Barr and the Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris. Administration of the project by Transport Canberra has been exemplary – with the project coming in $76 million under budget. Although the construction by Canberra Metro took a few months longer than anticipated, it is still a tremendous achievement. Light rail will be a lasting legacy, and something that the ALP and Greens can be rightly proud of.

This post has lots of photos of the days events, and a few links to local media coverage.

TV Coverage

WIN TV plaque 18 Apr
WIN TV Canberra coverage here

Nine News CM LR 18 aprNine Canberra TV News coverage here

abc tv newsABC Canberra TV News coverage here

Win tv newsWIN TV Canberra covered it again on 19 April here

Online Media

Video taken by PTCBR members on 19 April

Photos from the official opening day

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IMG_20190418_103255IMG_20190418_103248IMG_20190418_111854Golden Ticket winning passengers waiting for the first LRV IMG_20190418_114616IMG_20190418_113709Politicians on hand to witness the very first light rail trip for passengers!

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After arriving, the doors opened, and people raced onboard. That old guy with the walking stick is faster than you think!

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Moments later the LRV was full

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After years of campaigning for light rail – it was amazing to be on the first trip out of Gungahlin

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This LRV exiting the EPIC stop, is the first LRV from Civic carrying passengers to Gungahlin
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The view down Northbourne Avenue is very different than the view we have seen as car passengers/drivers – when the trees grow back it will be beautiful
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Lots of people made the trip to the light rail stations just to take photos of the first LRV’s
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ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA unveiled a plaque and then answered questions from the media for some time

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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas, Former Transport Minister Simon Corbell, Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris at the official opening of Canberra’s light rail
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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas and Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury
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Transport Canberra and City Services Director (and former Capital Metro CEO) Emma Thomas and PTCBR Chair Damien Haas
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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas and Transport Canberra Director Duncan Edghill

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Canberra Metro CEO Glenn Stockton

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Cutting of the light rail cake

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Caroline Le Couteur MLA talk to PTCBR Public Officer (and long time light rail campaigner) Ian Ruecroft and GCC Chair Peter Elford
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PTCBR Chair Damien Haas, PTCBR Deputy Chair Ryan Hemsley and PTCBR Public Officer Ian Ruecroft at the light rail launch lunch

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra,join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.

Canberra Metro Light Rail depot at Mitchell now operational

Canberra Metro Mitchell Depot light rail vehicle railyard.
Canberra Metro Mitchell Depot light rail vehicle railyard.

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.

abc canb lr depot 1 mar 19

ABC Canberra published a Facebook post here.

The Canberra Times published an article here.

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ABC Canberra TV News report on the depot opening (click here)

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Nine TV News report on the depot opening (click here)

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WIN Canberra TV News report on the depot opening (click here)

The following photos of the Depot including the Control Centre, were taken on March 1st 2019.

Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris talking to media representatives covering the Depot opening
Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris talking to media representatives covering the Depot opening
Canberra Metro CEO Glenn Stockton talking to media representatives covering the Depot opening
Canberra Metro CEO Glenn Stockton talking to media representatives covering the Depot opening
Canberra Metro operations are rebranding to CMET
Canberra Metro operations are rebranding to CMET
Canberra Metro operations control centre at the Mitchell Depot
Canberra Metro operations control centre at the Mitchell Depot

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View from the control centre of the entrance and exit from the Mitchell light rail depot to Flemington Rd. Thats a large substation and in front of that is the track into and out of the workshop area.
View from the control centre of the entrance and exit from the Mitchell light rail depot to Flemington Rd. Thats a large substation and in front of that is the track into and out of the workshop area.
That large cylinder is a sand tower. Sand is used in the braking system to enhance friction between steel wheels and steel tracks, in an emergency. The building next to the carpark is the backup control centre. In the background the railyard, that houses the 14 light rail vehicles in our current fleet.
That large cylinder is a sand tower. Sand is used in the braking system to enhance friction between steel wheels and steel tracks, in an emergency. The building next to the carpark is the backup control centre. In the background the railyard, that houses the 14 light rail vehicles in our current fleet.
The light rail workshop
The light rail workshop
The light rail workshop
The light rail workshop
Behind the LRV is the washing shed. All LRV's will be washed, before being stabled for the night.
Behind the LRV is the washing shed. All LRV’s will be washed, before being stabled for the night.
A map of the track inside the Mitchell LRV Depot showing the exit onto Flemington Rd
A map of the track inside the Mitchell LRV Depot showing the exit onto Flemington Rd

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This shunter moves LRV's in and out of the workshop. It can be operated by a person walking alongside it with a remote control.
This shunter moves LRV’s in and out of the workshop. It can be operated by a person walking alongside it with a remote control.
In the background the LRV fleet in its railyard. Future plans include covering the yard, and expanding it (to the right) when the LRV fleet expands for future stages.
In the background the LRV fleet in its railyard. Future plans include covering the yard, and expanding it (to the right) when the LRV fleet expands for future stages.

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra,join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.

Launch of Canberra’s first light rail vehicle at the new Mitchell Depot

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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.

IMG_20180117_102807342.jpgAs 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.

Media coverage

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WINTV Canberra covered the launch here

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Nine News Canberra covered the launch here

The RiotACT covered the launch here with good reporting of the comments made by those present:

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr, centre, with the Greens’ Shane Rattenbury and Caroline Le Couteur. At left is Tilo Franz Canberra Metro General Manager Tilo Franz and Capital Metro Chief Executive Glenn Stockton. Photo. Tim Benson.

“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.”

The Canberra Times reported on the launch here:

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ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr with Canberra’s first light rail vehicle at its depot in Mitchell. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

“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.

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More photos below…

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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)

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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.

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You don’t want to lose parts!

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The Mitchell depot is still being fitted out.

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Always useful to have a crane in a heavy vehicle depot.

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I think the Chief Minister is asking where the ignition keys are…

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra, join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.

Canberra companies building our light rail

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Construction at the light rail station site in Hibberson Street on 15 Sep 2017

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.

You can watch the Minister read out a list of local companies to the Assembly at this link.

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra, join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.

First rails are laid for Canberra light rail stage one

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Transport Canberra announces rail finally being laid

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.

(Update with photos from this news article)

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The test track slabs for the light rail have been laid. From left, Mark Jones deputy project director, and Glenn Stockton Canberra Metro CEO, next to the epoxy compound that encases the rail to both secure the rail in the track slot and as part of the stray current management system. Photo: Jamila Toderas
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The epoxy compound both secures the rail in the track slot and helps to manage stray currents. Photo: Jamila Toderas

The following images were recently taken (Aug 2017) of the test sections.

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The following images were taken in July 2017 of the initial test sections.

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early test section

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early test section 2

To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra, join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.

PTCBR meeting 29 August 12.30PM

 

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A meeting of the Public Transport Association of Canberra (PTCBR) will be held on:

Tuesday 29 August at 12.30 – 1.30PM 

Room 8 at the Griffin Centre, Genge Street in Civic.

Agenda:
  • Chairs report – and awarding of honorary membership to John Mikita of Transit Graphics
  • Update from Transport Canberra and City Services on buses and light rail stage two.
  • Canberra Metro – Light Rail Stage One construction.
This week test track for light rail has been laid, progress on light rail stage two was announced and electric/hybrid buses are being prepared for service on our roads.   
 
This meeting is a good opportunity for PTCBR members to learn more about recent public transport developments in Canberra, and ask questions to the people building and operating it. 
 
 
Membership forms will be available at the meeting if you wish to bring along someone you feel may be interested in joining our association. 
To stay up to date with all public transport and planning issues in Canberra, join the PTCBR here and visit our Facebook Group.