Canberra light rail: One tram a week to start arriving from end of March
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Canberra light rail: One tram a week to start arriving from end of March

Canberra's first tram will soon be joined by the rest of the fleet as the consortium behind stage one of light rail claims it is on track to finish the project by the end of the year.

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.

Canberra's first light rail vehicle at its depot in Mitchell.

Canberra's first light rail vehicle at its depot in Mitchell.

Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

In all, 14 trams will ferry up to 207 people each up and down the 12-kilometre track from Civic to Gungahlin.

The first tram arrived more than a month ago but no one from Canberra Metro will be allowed inside it until the Spanish company that built it comes to Australia in a few weeks to commission it.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr with Canberra's first light rail vehicle at its depot in Mitchell.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr with Canberra's first light rail vehicle at its depot in Mitchell.

Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong
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Mr Stockton said that delay would not impact the deadline for light rail coming online.

"We're all focused on a late 2018 delivery point," Mr Stockton said.

"In the coming months you'll start to see us continuing to refine and develop that corridor through the addition of extra track slab, particularly as we move our way from the intersection of Flemington Road and the Federal Highway down to the city centre.

"[You'll see] the installation of rail, the overhead power poles, and the wires that go wth them and into energisation and testing of vehicles live out on that track and that testing of the vehicle will occur from early April this year.

"Our intention is to dynamically test the vehicles on the northern section while we pretty much have that complete and allow us to complete the construction of the southern end of the corridor itself and then progressively test that corridor through until service completion in late 2018.

"Those sort of milestones will become apparent to Canberrans as you make your way around the city."

It is unclear how much each tram has cost, as Canberra Metro claimed the figure was "commercial in confidence".

Chief Minister Andrew Barr - who, in what could be seen as a nod to the Can-The-Tram movement, revealed he'd nicknamed the tram 'Cam' - 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 on text of this parliamentary term and there's a lot more new investment coming for Canberra and a continued focus on public transport improvement."

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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.

Light rail specifications:

  • Each tram is 33 metres long, with 66 seats and capacity of 207 passengers
  • The tram will reach maximum speeds of 70km/ph on the Gungahlin corridor
  • The carriages are disability compliant with double doors, no steps throughout and have dedicated areas for wheelchairs
  • Indigenous artist Uncle Jimmy Williams was involved in the design of the seat fabric
  • Each tram has two heating and air conditioning units
  • Spanish manufacturer CAF has built more than 450 of this model of tram over the past 10 years

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Times, covering ACT politics.