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The ACT government expects the consortium building and operating Canberra's light rail will miss "the first few" availability payments because of delays in getting the trams operating.
ACT Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris was under pressure on Friday to say when operations might begin, after she confirmed the project was running behind time.
She was speaking as she laid down the final track of the light rail network at the city end of the line, seven months after the initial deadline.
Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris helping install the last section of rail along the Gungahlin to the city Light Rail corridor on Friday.CREDIT:JAMILA TODERAS
Asked whether the contract might be pushed back to start later, so the consortium would not lose availability payments, a spokesman for Ms Fitzharris said, "It's quite complex but short answer is no. We expect them to miss the first few availability payments."
When operations began later than anticipated "the reduction in availability payments is determined according to a mechanism that takes many different factors into account", she said.
"It will take some time to work through those factors, including the dates the reduction is measured to and from. Ultimately the exact reduction won’t be known until the operations date has been finalised."
Ms Fitzharris said the network will be operational in "early 2019". When pushed on ABC radio about whether that meant before the end of March, she said, “I expect so.”
“I can’t give you a date today, and if I were to give you a date it is likely at this point that it may change,” she said.
“If I was to give you a clear date I know what it would play out like, and I think you do too.”
At a press conference, she said, “as we get much closer to the end of this year we will be able to firm up the particular date. I certainly understand that the Canberra community is really looking forward to knowing the exact date as am I.”
This article first appeared on www.brisbanetimes.com.au
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