Page 3944 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 29 November 2022

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Light rail—services

MR PARTON: My question is to the Minister for Transport and City Services. Minister, the relatively new tram stage 1 got its chance to shine in the big events spotlight on the weekend, with the Spilt Milk festival. The Daily Telegraph, among other media outlets, has declared that the Canberra tram failed as hundreds of concertgoers were forced to walk into Civic when services were suspended. Even before the suspension of services, there was nowhere near enough tram capacity for the task at hand. Minister, why were concertgoers who were already on the tram told to “get off the tram and walk”?

MR STEEL: I thank Mr Parton for his question. There was a very large event on the weekend, a very successful event, by all accounts, including by my younger cousin, who travelled down from Newcastle to attend. It is the first time that the Spilt Milk festival has been held at Exhibition Park in Canberra. Twenty-five thousand people were moved using light rail to and from the venue. The festival organisers worked with Canberra Metro and with private bus provider Qcity; they provided 50 buses and there were 125 busloads full of people, supporting that event, and safe access to and egress from the event, including afterwards.

We did, unfortunately, despite barriers, the presence of security and police, see some people who were leaving the venue ignore those barriers and cross onto the light rail corridor. For a period of approximately 20 minutes, for safety reasons, there was a requirement to temporarily suspend light rail services; some of the bus services were affected as well.

PA announcements were made on board light rail vehicles, advising passengers at that time of the suspension, and they were provided with the option to walk to the city, as it was unknown what time services would resume at that point. However, services were reinstated at approximately 11.45 pm, maintaining low speeds, not exceeding 20 kilometres per hour. Passengers were cleared from EPIC and Racecourse by approximately 12.20 am, with the last light rail service departing the Alinga Street stop at 1 am, as scheduled. Of course, Transport Canberra also assisted by putting on extra articulated buses from the city to Tuggeranong, Belconnen and other places around Canberra, to support safe access to and egress from the city light rail station.

MR PARTON: Minister, what is the point of a tram line to service a major events venue if it cannot cope when there is a major event at that major events venue?

MR STEEL: It was always planned by event organisers—who made the decision, by the way, to suspend temporarily—that safety needed to be managed around the venue, given the large number of people, with 45,000 attending the event, and that light rail would not be able to take all of those, even though every light rail vehicle was being used, and headways had been cut down to as low as 3½ minutes, in terms of frequency.

It was always anticipated that extra buses would be required to move people out of the venue. A large number of attendees decided that they did not want to line up for either the buses or the light rail vehicles; instead they decided to walk to the city, given that

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