The long awaited launch of Canberra’s light rail service is upon us, with a community party planned for the Easter weekend.
At the time of going to print (5pm Tuesday 16 April), final approval had not yet been given for Canberra Metro to operate a light rail network, however Minister Fitzharris told Canberra Weekly the final stages of the approval process is underway.
“The Territory has been working closely with Canberra Metro and third party regulators as part of the accreditation process … the expectation is that these accreditations will be worked through in the next couple of days,” she said on Monday 15 April.
The community is invited to celebrate the launch with an event, which Minister Fitzharris said is a “thank you” to the Canberra community, on Saturday 20 April, at a cost of over $100,000. Kicks Entertainment were reportedly given the contract to manage the event, including running the site, entertainment and suppliers, as well as some queue management services.
“There will be other expenses associated with the launch event and ensuring public safety. A large number of ACT Government volunteers are also being trained to help the crowds and to make the first day of light rail a success,” Minister Fitzharris said.
Safety at the launch event is on everyone’s mind, after recent video footage of a number of “near misses” with both pedestrians and vehicles along the light rail corridor, while the vehicles have been in testing phase. One pedestrian was taken to hospital following a collision with a vehicle in March.
Minister for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury reminded Canberrans to take road safety seriously, and said the near misses are a reminder that road safety is everyone’s responsibility.
“The Light rail system has not resulted in any new road rules for drivers – you must continue to obey all signs and traffic signals around the tracks.”
Changes for drivers include light rail vehicles being given priority at intersections, and Minister Rattenbury warned drivers to be prepared to stop at an amber light, and not to queue across intersections. Intersections have changed, and pedestrians are reminded that they may not be able to cross the road “in one go”.
Launch events will run from 9am to 4pm in both Civic and Gungahlin, with light rail services running between each terminus. Minister Fitzharris said around 30,000 people are expected to attend, with road closures in place around Gungahlin and the city. Free buses across the network will be available on the day. The ACT Government has also announced Hands Across Canberra as the charity partner for the launch day, where they will be taking donations.
For more information on the launch, road closures or to plan your trip, visit transport.act.gov.au