Light rail in Sydney
|Owner||Transport for NSW|
|Transit type||Light rail|
|Number of lines||1|
|Number of stations||23|
|Annual ridership||10 million in 2016–2017|
|Website||Sydney Light Rail|
|Began operation||31 August 1997|
|Number of vehicles||12|
|System length||12.8 km (8 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||750 V (DC) overhead line|
The Sydney light rail network (or Sydney Light Rail) is a light rail system serving the Australian city of Sydney, New South Wales. The network currently consists of a single 12.8-kilometre (8 mi) line with 23 stations, known as the Dulwich Hill Line. A second line, the CBD and South East Light Rail, is under construction and will be completed in 2019. A light rail network serving Western Sydney called Parramatta Light Rail has also been announced.
The network is controlled by the New South Wales Government's transport authority, Transport for NSW, and is part of the authority's Opal ticketing system. In 2016–2017, 10 million passenger journeys were made on the network. Transdev Sydney operates the inner city network. An operator of the Western Sydney network has yet to be determined.
- 1 History
- 2 Operations
- 2.1 Network
- 2.2 Rolling stock
- 2.3 Patronage
- 2.4 Ticketing and fares
- 3 Potential extensions
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Sydney developed an extensive tram network, which grew to be the largest in Australia and one of the largest in the world. The increasing rate of private car ownership and the perception that trams contributed to traffic congestion led to the progressive replacement of tram services with buses, with the final section of the tram network closing in February 1961.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the inner city areas of Darling Harbour and Pyrmont were the subject of an urban renewal program. In 1988 the Sydney Monorail opened, connecting Darling Harbour to the central business district. With poor integration between the monorail and other transport modes, and the increasing redevelopment of the Pyrmont peninsula – including the establishment of Sydney's first legal casino – it was decided to convert a disused section of the Metropolitan Goods railway line into a light rail line. A section of track between Pyrmont and Haymarket was upgraded and a new on-street section constructed to link the line to Central railway station. The line was set up as a public-private partnership. It opened in August 1997, running between Central station and Wentworth Park, Pyrmont.
The private owner soon made proposals for a western extension continuing along the disused goods line, plus a new line through the central business district from Central to Circular Quay. The western extension opened in 2000, terminating at Lilyfield, but the company was unsuccessful in its attempts to develop a CBD line, which saw development of light rail stagnate for the remainder of the decade.
By contrast, the 2010s have seen major expansion and reform of light rail in Sydney including the announcement and delivery of multiple new infrastructure projects, integration of ticketing with the city's other transport modes, the introduction of new trams and the transfer of the network to full public ownership. The extensions announced during the decade total almost 40 km (25 mi). If all projects are completed, the network would expand in size from 7.2 km (4.5 mi) at the start of the decade to approximately 50 km (30 mi).
Ownership and operation
In March 1994 the "Sydney Light Rail Company" (SLRC) was formed. It was awarded a 30-year concession to operate the light rail system until February 2028 when ownership would pass to the New South Wales Government. The contract gave the company significant control over the commercial arrangements relating to future extensions or interconnecting lines. SLRC contracted operation of the line to TNT Transit Systems, which also owned the Sydney Monorail.
SLRC purchased the monorail in August 1998 as part of a joint venture with French transport company CGEA Transport. This resulted in CGEA Transport taking over the light rail operating contract. CGEA Transport and its successors have operated the inner city light rail network ever since.
In early 2001, Connex (renamed from CGEA Transport in 1999) sold its share of the monorail to the SLRC, bringing the monorail and light rail under unified ownership and leading to the formation of Metro Transport Sydney.
The New South Wales Government purchased Metro Transport Sydney in March 2012, and the company was placed under the control of Transport for NSW. The purchase removed the contractual restrictions on expanding the light rail network and allowed the government to dismantle the monorail, assisting its plans to redevelop the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.
From 1 July 2013, the Metro Light Rail brand was phased out as part of a broader rebranding and reorganisation of public transport services in New South Wales. The process of shutting down Metro Transport Sydney and transferring assets to Transport for NSW was completed in September 2014.
Following the announcement of the CBD and South East Light Rail, the government decided to group the contract covering construction of the new line with the operation and maintenance both lines of the inner city network. In December 2014, Transport for NSW awarded the contract to the ALTRAC Light Rail consortium, consisting of Alstom, Transdev, Acciona Infrastructure and Capella Capital. The operating contract commenced on 1 July 2015 and runs until 2034. Transdev Sydney, the operator under the previous contract, continues to operate and maintain the network as part of the consortium.
L1 Dulwich Hill Line
The Inner West Light Rail – branded as the L1 Dulwich Hill Line – is the network's original line. It connects the Inner Western suburbs with the Pyrmont peninsula, Darling Harbour and the southern end of the central business district. The line operates along a former freight railway, with a short on-street section at the city end. The route opened between Central railway station in the city and Wentworth Park, Pyrmont in August 1997. The line was extended west from Wentworth Park to Lilyfield in August 2000 and then south-west from Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill in March 2014.
CBD and South East line
The CBD and South East Light Rail is a future line that will operate from Circular Quay at the northern end of the central business district to Central station at the southern end, then continuing to the south-eastern suburbs. The line is being built to reduce bus congestion in the CBD and provide higher capacity public transport to the Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney Cricket Ground, Randwick Racecourse and the University of New South Wales, which are currently served only by buses. In contrast to the Inner West Light Rail, the route is mostly on-street and follows a similar path to routes used by the former tramway network. Major construction began in October 2015. The line was originally projected to open in early 2019. However, construction of the line has been significantly slower than anticipated. ALTRAC is now working towards a March 2020 completion date.
The first line runs from Carlingford to Westmead via the Parramatta CBD. It includes the conversion of most of the existing heavy rail Carlingford line to light rail standards. Construction is expected to begin in 2018 and be completed by 2023.
The preferred route for the second line was announced in October 2017. This line branches from the first line at Rydalmere and travels through Ermington, Melrose Park, Wentworth Point and on to the Sydney Olympic Park events precinct.
The lines will have no connection to the Inner West or CBD and South East lines.
All services are currently operated by a single class of tram. A second class will be added to the fleet to operate services on the CBD and South East Light Rail. All vehicles to have operated on the system have been articulated, low floor and bi-directional. The system uses standard gauge track and 750 volt direct current electrification.
Following the 5.6km extension of the Inner West Light Rail to Dulwich Hill, more rolling stock was needed to support services and run alongside the Variotrams that had been providing services on the line since the first section opened in 1997. A tender for six Urbos 3s was awarded to Spanish company Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) on 16 August 2012. The first unit arrived in Sydney on 19 December 2013 and entered service on 24 July 2014. All were in service by August, allowing the leased Urbos 2s to be returned to Spain.
On 11 October 2013, the Government announced an order for six additional Urbos 3s to replace the Variotrams. All Urbos 3s from the additional order entered service by the end of June 2015.
The Urbos 3s are approximately 33 metres long and feature two double and two single doors on each side. The seats on the first batch are generally in the transverse configuration – at 90 degrees to the sides of the vehicle. The second batch replace some of the transverse seats with longitudinal seating, providing more standing room. Digital voice announcements and internal dot-matrix displays provide information about the next stop. They have a standard capacity of 206 passengers and a crush capacity of 272. The vehicles are numbered 2112, 2114–2124.
As part of the winning consortium to build and operate the CBD and South East Light Rail, Alstom will supply sixty Citadis X05 trams to provide the services. Each vehicle will consist of five-sections. The trams will be coupled together to operate in pairs of two. Original plans for the line intended for the trams to be approximately 45 metres long and operate as single units. Wire-free operation in a section of George Street between Bathurst Street and Circular Quay was to be achieved via battery storage. In December 2014, it was announced that Alstom's proprietary Aesthetic Power Solution ground-level power supply technology would be used in place of batteries. The length of the trams would also be reduced, but they would now operate in pairs, giving each pair a total length of approximately 67 metres.
Parramatta Light Rail trams
The initial section of the Parramatta Light Rail project is expected to require a fleet of 16 trams. Each vehicle would be approximately 45 metres long.
In November 2017, three consortia were shortlisted to supply the project's rolling stock, maintain the infrastructure and operate the services. The shortlisted rolling stock suppliers are Alstom (from the Connecting Parramatta consortium), CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles (from Greater Parramatta) and CAF (from Great River City Light Rail).
The network's original rolling stock was the Variotram which was introduced with the opening of the first section of the Inner West Light Rail in 1997. Seven German-designed vehicles were manufactured in Dandenong, Victoria by Adtranz. The Variotram design is modular and was extended for the Sydney system. The capacity of the vehicles was 217 passengers, of which 74 were seated. On tests up to three trams were coupled together allowing a maximum capacity of 600 passengers if required. They were numbered 2101–2107, continuing the Sydney trams sequence that finished at 2087 with the last Sydney R1-Class Tram.
The vehicles had a floor to rail height of 30 centimetres and the bogies had no axles between the wheels and were powered with hub motors. The design weight was reduced to compensate for the addition of climate-control air-conditioning equipment. Each was fitted with three double doors each side which had enhanced safety systems with obstacle detection interlocked with the traction system. Seats were generally in the transverse configuration – at 90 degrees to the sides of the vehicle. In 2014, the original external destination rolls were replaced with dot-matrix displays and digital voice announcements were installed. There were no internal displays. The last Variotram was withdrawn from service after operating overnight between Central and The Star on 27/28 May 2015.
Four leased Urbos 2 trams were introduced on the Inner West Light Rail in 2014. They entered service to coincide with the extension of the line to Dulwich Hill, supplementing the Variotrams and ensuring service frequencies on the line could be maintained. The four trams had previously operated in Spain. Three units (2108–2110) were from Vélez-Málaga, where they operated between 2006 and 2012. The other tram (2111) was from Seville. The first Urbos 2 arrived in Sydney on 4 September 2013. Delivery was completed in November. The trams entered service on 22 March 2014, five days before the opening of the extension to Dulwich Hill. Following the introduction of the Urbos 3 trams in July 2014, the Urbos 2s were withdrawn and returned to Spain. The Urbos 2s were unpopular with passengers and attracted complaints.
The trams featured four double and two single doors on each side. The seats were unpadded and were generally built in the longitudinal seating configuration – running parallel to the sides of the vehicle's body. Digital voice announcements and internal dot-matrix displays provided information about the next stop.
The following table lists patronage figures for the network during the corresponding financial year. Australia's financial years start on 1 July and end on 30 June. Major events that affected the number of journeys made or how patronage is measured are included as notes.
- Partial integration with main Sydney ticketing system in June 2011
- Services suspended for much of October 2013 after double derailment
- Dulwich Hill extension opened in March 2014
- Opal introduced in December 2014
- Non-Opal tickets discontinued in August 2016
- Line partially closed during parts of December 2016 & January 2017 for CBD and South East Light Rail works
Ticketing and fares
The light rail network uses the smartcard-based Opal ticketing system, which was introduced to the network on 1 December 2014. Opal is also valid on bus, train and ferry services but separate fares apply for these modes. Opal's light rail fares are the same as those for buses but the fares are not combined when interchanging between the two modes. This is due to change once the CBD and South East Light Rail opens; all light rail passengers interchanging with buses will only pay one fare, calculated from the start of their trip on one mode to the end of their trip on the other. Light rail stops feature Opal top-up machines that also sell Opal single trip tickets. The single trip tickets are more expensive than the standard Opal fare. They are only valid for travel on light rail and must be used on the day of purchase. The following table lists Opal fares for reusable smartcards and single trip tickets as of 2 July 2018:
|Bus or light rail||0–3 km||3–8 km||8 km+|
|Adult single trip||$2.80||$4.40||$5.80|
|Child/Youth single trip||$1.40||$2.20||$2.90|
Fares are calculated using straight line distance between the origin and destination stops. No two stops on the existing line are located more than 8 kilometres from each other using this method, so the 8 km+ band doesn't apply to light rail services.
When it first opened, the Inner West Light Rail used its own paper-based ticketing system. Paper tickets were originally sold from ticket machines on stop platforms but were later issued by conductors on board. During the 2010s this system gradually merged with the broader Sydney ticketing system, culminating in the introduction of Opal and the withdrawal of all other tickets. This process was completed on 1 August 2016.
Several transport corridors have significant potential to allow for the growth of the network beyond its current route structure.
The New South Wales Government's 2012 policy document entitled Sydney's Light Rail Future proposed investigating an extension of the CBD and South East Light Rail along the southern Anzac Parade corridor.
By 2014 an initial investigation had commenced. Three potential options were examined; a 1.9 kilometre extension to Maroubra Junction, a 5.1 kilometre extension to Malabar and a 8.2 kilometre extension to La Perouse.
The government's 2018 Greater Sydney Services and Infrastructure Plan included a proposal for an extension to Maroubra Junction. The extension wouldn't be developed for at least 10 years.
The Bays Precinct
The Bays Precinct is a large waterfront area to the west of the Sydney CBD being proposed for urban renewal by the New South Wales Government. The southern part of the precinct is served by the existing Inner West Light Rail. A planning document released by the government in October 2015 suggested light rail could be extended to the northern part of the precinct, possibly utilising the Glebe Island Bridge.
The government's 2018 Greater Sydney Services and Infrastructure Plan included a proposal for a new line from Leichhardt North to Pyrmont via The Bays Precinct and the Glebe Island Bridge. It would connect with the existing Inner West Light Rail at both ends. The line wouldn't be developed for at least 10 years.
Parramatta Light Rail extensions
The New South Wales Government's 2012 policy document entitled Sydney's Light Rail Future proposed investigating a Western Sydney light rail network. This lead to a number of corridors being investigated in the early planning stages of the Parramatta Light Rail project. The final corridors selected for development were announced in 2015.
The government's 2018 Greater Sydney Services and Infrastructure Plan proposed investigating unspecified extensions to the network. The extensions wouldn't be developed for at least 10 years.
The City of Sydney Council has recommended that a Light Rail link be built from the city to Green Square, to service the commercial and residential developments currently being constructed in the area and has spent more than $30 million buying land for a light rail corridor. In July 2015, New South Wales Transport Minister Andrew Constance stated that the area was likely to be served by a light rail link in the future. This led to a decision in October by the City of Sydney to allocate $445 000 to develop plans for a light rail line from the city to Green Square. The City estimated a link would cost $350–500 million to build.
- List of tram and light-rail transit systems
- Newcastle Light Rail
- Public transport in Sydney
- Railways in Sydney
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- See Transport for NSW patronage in Sydney by mode for sources
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