Light rail makes it to last stop, as drivers prepare for city runs
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Light rail makes it to last stop, as drivers prepare for city runs

Canberra's light rail has reached its final destination, with the first powered tram making it to the Alinga Street terminal on Tuesday.

Driver training will also begin along the Northbourne corridor on Thursday, welcome milestones for the project which is running months behind schedule.

Light rail has arrived at Alinga Street in the centre of Canberra after eight months of testing.

Light rail has arrived at Alinga Street in the centre of Canberra after eight months of testing.

While a light rail vehicle was towed to the station in early December, it's the first time a vehicle has made it that far using its own power.

It's a signal that after more than two years of road closures, nightworks and traffic delays, the end of one of Canberra's largest ever infrastructure projects is in sight.

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Originally due for completion over a month ago, the light rail is now expected to start running from April 27 along with the new bus network.

Testing has been rolled out progressively over the 12-kilometre route since last June, with the final batch of checks kicking off last week at the Dickson interchange.

It's been eight months since the first tram ventured out of the Mitchell depot for midnight runs, and three months since the last track was laid at the Alinga station.

Experts must assess all elements of the vehicles, the track, signalling systems and passenger information to ensure the light rail is safe to use.

Tests are scheduled to take place along Northbourne Avenue and the Federal Highway between 5am and 9pm, although there may be some out-of-hours runs.

"Once testing of the track and light rail vehicles has been completed, driver training will commence between the Mitchell Depot and the Alinga light rail terminus. Drivers will use this training to become familiar with the route, stops and intersections along this section of the light rail corridor," a Transport Canberra spokesman said.

"Testing and commissioning is also an important opportunity for the public to become familiar with light rail vehicles moving along the tracks."

Intersections along the testing route won't be closed, however there will be traffic controllers managing the area for the first few days as the vehicles cross at slow speeds.

When driver training begins, light rail movements through intersections will be managed by the T-lights.

The special traffic lights for light rail at each intersection have been integrated into the road signalling system, and the trams will wait for their 'go' signal before moving through the intersections.

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Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have been warned to watch out for light rail vehicles, and to remember the overhead wires will be energised before testing.

While it's safe to walk, cycle and drive under the wires, people should only cross the tracks at the designated crossings and intersections.

Disruption to neighbouring residents is expected to be low, as the trams are electric and emit a 'hum' sound, although there may be the occasional ding or horn sound.

Some ad-hoc wheel squeals may also be heard, which will be monitored through the testing process, the Transport Canberra spokesman said.

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

Jasper is a reporter for The Canberra Times.

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