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.
The 2018-19 ACT Budget will be announced on Tuesday 5 June. Along with a significant drip feed of pre-budget announcements across a broad range of portfolios, this announcement from the TCCS Minister focuses on light rail and buses. It also provides funding to address any questions that the NCA and the federal inquiry into light rail, may have.
The highlights of the announcement are:
Construction of a light rail stop in Mitchell in 2019/20
$10 million to further advance the technical and design aspects of light rail to Woden (includes work to inform the recently announced federal inquiry)
$2.5 million in works to support Woden light rail including businesses cases for the redesign and build of a new Woden Town Centre bus interchange, an updated ‘Park and Ride’ strategy incorporating bus and light rail, and redevelopment of the Yarra Glenn intersection with Melrose and Yamba Drives to accommodate light rail.
This is the media release in full:
Media release by Meegan Fitzharris MLA Minister for Transport and City services
More investment in light rail to continue the network rollout
The ACT Government is investing in the next stage of planning, design and enabling works for light rail from the City to Woden through the 2018 Budget.
“Extending light rail to Woden will see Canberra further realise the benefits of a city-wide light rail network by providing a critical north-south public transport spine. We are committed to bringing light rail to Woden, and this further investment will ensure we deliver,” said Minister for Transport Canberra and City Services Meegan Fitzharris.
“The preferred route will connect the City and Woden via Parkes and Barton. This route provides the best access through the Parliamentary Zone to employment hubs, cultural institutions and other places of interest such as Manuka Oval.
“With this preferred route now on the table and progress being made regarding the Commonwealth’s approval processes, we are getting on with making Canberra’s transformative public transport project a reality.
“Light rail from Gungahlin to the City is going well, with testing of the light rail vehicles to begin soon, and Canberra Metro on track to complete construction in December this year.
“This Budget will also fund the start of works on a light rail stop for Mitchell. This will enable Transport Canberra to enter into negotiations for a stop at Sandford Street and will include the technical design for the stop to be constructed in 2019-20.”
Minister Fitzharris said the Budget will invest $10 million to further advance the technical and design aspects of light rail to Woden so that the National Capital Authority will have all the information it needs to understand the benefits of the project.
“This will include work to inform the recently announced Inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee into the Commonwealth and Parliamentary approvals for the project.
“The ACT Government has welcomed the Inquiry, and we are committed to working with all relevant stakeholders to ensure planning for this project responds to their needs so that we can deliver this important transport link for our city.”
The Budget will also invest a further $2.5 million in works to support light rail to Woden. This involves the preparation of detailed businesses cases for potential early works, including:
The redesign and build of a new Transport Canberra bus interchange in the Woden Town Centre;
An upgrade of Parkes Way to improve traffic flow;
The development of an updated ‘Park and Ride’ strategy incorporating bus and light rail; and
The redevelopment of the Yarra Glenn intersection with Melrose and Yamba Drives to accommodate light rail.
“We are tackling this project from both ends because we want to be ready to get work underway as soon as the project gets the green light.
“This project is significant for Woden and urban renewal of the town centre. We are already seeing investment in Woden as a result of the ACT Government’s plan to build light rail, and this will continue as we have seen along the City to Gungahlin corridor,” Minister Fitzharris said.
This investment in delivering an integrated public transport system for Canberra is another way the ACT Government is growing services for our growing city through the 2018 Budget.”
More to come after the budget is officially released.
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…
The Public Transport Association of Canberra are pleased that the Canberra Liberals are now supporting light rail in Canberra. This very welcome about face has occurred following representations by the Mitchell Traders Association to their local members after recently realising a light rail station was not going to be built in Mitchell as part of light rail stage one. The benefits of light rail for residents and businesses along the light rail stage one corridor have been supported at two elections, and it is pleasing that business owners in Mitchell, and the Canberra Liberals, now support better public transport options.
In the ACT Legislative Assembly on Wednesday 19 September, Shadow Transport Minister Andrew Wall MLA will table a motion (below) calling for a light rail station to be constructed in Mitchell, and compensation for businesses affected by light rail construction.
PTCBR are not sure why the motion by the Canberra Liberals motion is being made now, as TCCS Minister Meegan Fitzharris MLA has already indicated that a light rail stop in Mitchell will be built (the supporting infrastructure is in place) and that it is a matter of when it will be built. The Mitchell Traders met with the Minister recently and were also told that a stop would be built.
Light rail will provide tremendous access directly to Mitchell by thousands of potential customers and employees. A light rail stop in Mitchell that can be built between stages one and stage two construction, would benefit everyone.
PTCBR also strongly support a light rail stop in Mitchell, and called for it during consultation several years ago, when the Mitchell Traders, and Canberra Liberals could also have asked for a light rail stop in Mitchell.
Although a stop was discussed in the consultation processes, no Mitchell stop was planned or appeared in the business case. The many new businesses that now front Flemington Road will benefit from a light rail stop, and better integrated bus services to link with the bus routes that already travel through the Mitchell precinct.
Although it is very positive that Mitchell Traders and the Canberra Liberals now support a light rail stop in Mitchell, it is a valuable warning to other parts of Canberra that will see light rail extended to their town centres over the coming decades. The best time to engage in consultation for an infrastructure project is when it is being planned, not when the bulldozers are visible from the window of your business.
Business and commercial and residential property owners along the corridor for the second stage of light rail from Civic, through Parkes and Barton to Woden, are urged to take part in consultation processes and express a view on stop locations and possible routes.
Oddly, the Canberra Liberal motion also calls for more all day parking in Mitchell. More parking seems to be at odds with a call for more public transport. More short term parking would be better for customers than more all day parking.
The motion also asks for compensation for business losses due to light rail construction activity. Although it is unfortunate for any business to suffer a downturn due to infrastructure provision, the benefits that these businesses will accrue from light rail running past their door, will be many.
PTCBR (and its predecessor ACT Light Rail) have always supported a light rail stop in Mitchell, and hope that the Canberra Liberals motion and the ACT Governments existing stated support for a light rail stop will see budget funds provided for a stop to be built in the very near future. Bipartisan support for public transport is always positive.
Motion moved by Shadow Transport Minister Andrew Wall on 19 Sep 2017:
MR WALL: To move—That this Assembly:
(1) notes the important contribution that businesses in Mitchell make to the ACT economy and the considerable amount of revenue collected by Government from Mitchell traders through rates, payroll tax and other fees and charges; and
(2) calls on the ACT Government to:
(a) construct a light rail stop at Mitchell;
(b) explore what compensation can be offered to businesses severely
impacted by the construction of light rail;
(c) construct additional all day car parking in Mitchell (especially for
workers on the eastern side of Mitchell);
(d) detail how Mitchell will be serviced by buses following the operation of
(e) include Mitchell on a regular schedule for street sweeping;No 31—19 September 2017 541
(f) improve the urban services delivered in Mitchell, such as footpath and
streetlight maintenance; and
(g) undertake consultation with businesses in Mitchell about
implementing urgent minor capital works in the public realm.