The independent electrical certifier on stage one of Canberra's light rail project raised concerns about electrical installations being carried out by unlicensed workers and not meeting Australian Standards, then was told its services were no longer required.
But the ACT government and the Canberra Metro consortium that delivered stage one say the light rail network is safe and wouldn't be operating otherwise.
Documents released under freedom of information laws reveal Specialist Electrical Engineering Group's concerns with a litany of problems during construction, including that electrical wiring systems and high-voltage cables installed as part of the project were not at the safe depths required by Australian Standards.
"CMC [Canberra Metro Construction] has been reckless about whether workers installing electrical conduit have electrical licenses [sic]," reads an email from a Specialist Electrical Engineering Group employee, whose name has been redacted.
"This is considered an offense [sic]."
The email, sent on September 1 last year, details numerous other problems including the installation of a high-voltage joint in a pit of water despite the joint not being suitable for immersion, and the inadequate separation of electrical services in parts of the route from Gungahlin to the city.
The documents cover a three-month period starting from September last year, but they were only released last week after a ruling by ACT ombudsman Michael Manthorpe. Mr Manthorpe dismissed Canberra Metro's appeal against the documents' release, upholding a decision the ACT government made in February to grant access.
Months after Specialist Electrical Engineering Group raised its concerns, it is understood the company received a letter saying its certification services would not be required after Christmas. The company still had engineers working on the light rail project until March.
The light rail network received accreditation in April, the same month trams started taking passengers. The network has so far recorded more than one million passenger journeys.
Emails included in the freedom of information release also show Transport Canberra Light Rail senior manager Peter Stanford expressed frustration with a lack of "clear leadership and actions" from Canberra Metro when issues were raised.
In an email sent on October 26 last year to a recipient whose name was redacted, Mr Stanford said when the independent certifier identified an area at the light rail depot with a high-voltage cable as non-conforming, concrete was poured over it.
"You will find SEEG, [redacted] and [redacted] even told them to stop but they didn't as they had been 'told by others' to go!" Mr Stanford wrote.
A reply from the recipient said the Canberra Metro consortium "thought they had agreed the way forward with SEEG prior to pouring the concrete, but that was obviously not the case".
The ACT government and Canberra Metro did not respond directly to five questions from The Canberra Times. The questions included whether unlicensed workers had installed electrical conduits, and why Specialist Electrical Engineering Group did not continue as the independent electrical certifier until the conclusion of stage one construction.
Instead of answering the questions, the government provided two statements.
The first, from Access Canberra boss Dave Peffer, said the technical regulator's message was clear: if there were electrical safety concerns, light rail wouldn't be operating.
Mr Peffer said it was not unusual for electrical or building issues to be identified, and then rectified, during the construction of a major and complex project.
"The fact issues were identified and ultimately rectified by Canberra Metro isn't a problem - it's a sign of regulation in action," he said.
"It shows the protections in place worked to support the delivery of a safe project.
"We were clear with all parties about our expectations as the regulator, and that's what we worked to.
"Once satisfied the project was safe and met the requirements, we issued an operating certificate. The timing for issuing the certificate was dictated by safety - not a commercial deadline."
The second statement, from the ACT government's Major Projects Canberra agency, said Canberra Metro had carried out "rectification works where necessary and undertook a level of verification activities that went beyond what is typical for similar projects".
"The ACT government has no concerns with the light rail system," the statement said.
"It's not only an extremely popular light rail system, but one that is safe and which will service Canberra for many decades to come."
Electrical Trades Union ACT officer Matt McCann said he shared the independent electrical certifier's concerns about unlicensed people doing electrical work.
"We drove up Flemington Road and we saw ditch-diggers putting in conduits," he said.
"It doesn't matter whether they're installing conduits or pulling cables. There's a reason there's a licence for that sort of work."
Mr McCann said he had raised this with the ACT government and Canberra Metro on several occasions.
He said there was little leadership shown by the ACT government when problems were raised, and the way the contract with Canberra Metro was handled seemed to be "a case of the tail wagging the dog".