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Canberra Joins Light-Rail Club

A rendering of Canberra light rail (Credit: ACT Government)

Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.

Canberra Light Rail on Track to Open Next Year
The largest infrastructure project in the history of the Australian Capital Territory reached a major milestone on Friday when the first tracks for the Canberra light rail line were laid in Franklin, the Canberra Times reports.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris were on hand for the track-laying along Flemington Road.

Barr said that the track-laying sent a message to skeptics who doubted that the project would ever become reality. He added that it was more than a transportation project: “It’s not just a transport project for Canberra, it’s a city shaping project and you’re seeing … a new city take shape, one that will be more sustainable, one that will meet our ongoing population growth.”

Fitzharris said that the A$939 million ($730.8 million U.S.) project to build a light rail line between Gungahlin and the center of Canberra was within budget and on track for a scheduled opening in late 2018.

Seattle Hits Milestone in Light-Rail Tunnel Project
Slowly but steadily, the Sound Transit East Link tunnel is inching toward completion across Lake Washington from Seattle. Actually, it’s doing a little better than inching towards completion: Railway Track and Structures’ progress report on the excavation under downtown Bellevue states that the project is progressing at the rate of three to four feet per day.

(Photo by Oran Viriyincy)

As of last week, the tunnel was 30 percent complete, according to the report. It’s being dug by a method known as “sequential excavation,” in which an excavator removes soil in small sections. The method was chosen because of the tunnel’s short length — 2,000 feet, or about one-third of a mile. Sequential excavation causes less disruption on the surface than cut-and-cover construction or tunnel boring machines but takes longer to complete.

The tunnel will connect East Link’s East Main and Bellevue Downtown stations, both of which will be on the surface. The city of Bellevue made in-kind contributions of $100 million to bury the East Link line through its city center. The 14-mile, 10-station East Link line from downtown Seattle to Redmond’s Overlake section is scheduled to enter service in 2023.

European Bank Funds Bangalore Metro Expansion
The rapid spread of rapid transit throughout India’s cities got a big vote of confidence from the European Investment Bank, which has agreed to a €500 million ($589.61 million U.S.) loan to finance construction of the second line of the Bangalore metro.

Global Rail News reports that the loan is the largest the EIB has made in India to date as well as the largest to support sustainable transport outside Europe.

(Photo by Pbhattiprolu)

Along with a loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the EIB loan will finance the construction of a 22-km (13.7-mile), 18-station metro line that will cut travel times across the city significantly: the EIB said that a trip that takes two hours now will take only 15 minutes when the new “Reach 6” metro line, also known as the Namma Metro, opens for service in 2021. The loan will also cover the cost of the 96 rail cars needed to provide service on the line.

The line, which will run both on elevated structures and in tunnels, is also a key component of planned service to the Bangalore airport.

The loan was agreed to on Friday, and comes on the heels of a similar loan from the EIB to the Indian government to build a metro line in Lucknow. The EIB is the international public investment bank of the European Union and is owned by the EU’s 28 member states.

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