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

Ryan ticket
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.

abc depot 1 mar 19

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

nine news lrv 1 mar

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

win lr 1 mar

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.