The Metro Light Rail (formerly the Sydney Light Rail) is the only currently operating light rail line in Sydney. The line opened on 31 August 1997, mostly along the route of an unused goods railway line, to serve the redeveloped inner-city areas of Darling Harbour, Ultimo and Pyrmont, and was extended in 2000 to serve some of Sydney's inner western suburbs. The line is owned by the NSW Government's Metro Transport Sydney and operated under contract by Veolia.
Running from Central Railway Station to the inner western suburb of Lilyfield, the route extends for 7.2 kilometres (4.5 mi), including 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) of on-street operation. There are 14 stops, including two interchanges to the Metro Monorail line and a station at The Star casino.
Most of the alignment of the Metro Light Rail's Central to Lilyfield line had its origins as the Darling Harbour Goods Line. From the time when the Sydney Railway Company was formed in 1848, it had been the intention of the company to build a freight terminal at Darling Harbour. To this end, a railway line was constructed between the Sydney Railway Station (the predecessor to Central Railway Station) and Darling Harbour, which opened on 26 September 1855. This line was extended to Dulwich Hill via Lilyfield in 1922.
With widespread use as a freight line throughout the early 20th century, the use of containers and the decentralisation of freight terminals in Sydney to places such as Port Botany and Chullora, Darling Harbour traffic was reduced considerably. The port was closed and the area redeveloped.
In 1994, the Sydney Light Rail Company was formed. Construction and conversion of the first section of line from Central station to Wentworth Park started on 25 January 1996 and took 16 months to complete. Most of the original 3.6km line used the former Darling Harbour goods railway line and previous tramway routes.
The original route opened for public operation with a trial service on 11 August 1997 with three weeks of testing. The official public opening was conducted by the then Premier of New South Wales Bob Carr on 31 August. A full revenue service started the next day at 6am on Monday 1 September.
Buoyed by the success of the original line the route was extended along the closed section of the goods line to Lilyfield. The extension was officially opened on Sunday 13 August 2000.
|Central||Central Railway Station, Railway Square, Eddy Avenue and Chalmers Street bus routes|
|Capitol Square||George Street bus routes|
|Paddy's Markets||Paddy's Markets monorail stop|
|Convention||Convention monorail stop|
|Pyrmont Bay||443 and 448 bus routes|
|Star City||443 and 448 bus routes|
|John St Square||443 bus route|
|Fish Market||501 bus route|
|Rozelle Bay||433 bus route|
|Lilyfield||470 and 445 bus routes|
Extension to Dulwich HillEdit
In 2009 goods traffic on the line between Rozelle and Dulwich Hill ceased and in February 2010 the NSW Labor Government announced the 5.6km extension of the light rail from Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill.
Work to upgrade the track and remove the overhead wiring began in August 2010. The project received planning approval in February 2011. The extension was originally scheduled to open in 2012, but in September 2011 the newly elected Coalition Government announced that it would not open until 2014, and that the cost had risen from $120 million to $176 million. The Greenway walking and cycling path which was to run alongside much of the route was deferred. The Coalition blamed hasty planning by Labor for the delay and cost overruns, and the lack of an active transport masterplan for the deferral of the Greenway.
John Holland Group was announced as the successful tenderer for the infrastructure works on 31 May 2012. The company will design and build the 9 stations, bridge works, signalling and power supply.
The extension is estimated to be used by 3,105 boarding passengers per weekday by 2016 with 415 of those arriving by train and 460 arriving by bus.
The extension to Dulwich Hill includes the following list of stations from Lilyfield:
|Leichhardt North||440 & 444/445 bus routes|
|Marion||436, L37, 438/L38 & 439/L39 bus routes|
|Taverners Hill||461, 480 & 483 bus routes|
|Lewisham West||Lewisham Railway Station and 413 bus route|
|Dulwich Grove||418, 428/L28 and 444/445 bus routes|
|Dulwich Hill Interchange||Dulwich Hill Railway Station and 412 bus route|
Several transport corridors have significant potential to allow for the growth of the network beyond its current route structure.
In February 2010 the Labor NSW Government announced a new line from Haymarket to Circular Quay via Barangaroo. As of September 2010, the final route had not yet been decided, with the three options being to send the line North from Central via George Street, Sussex Street or a loop using both.
The O'Farrell government committed to building a line through the CBD, with a connection to Barangaroo. The preferred route will run along George St. It also committed to conducting feasibility studies into the construction of lines from the City to Sydney University and the City to the University of New South Wales (UNSW). On 8 December 2011, the government announced shortlisted potential routes for these extensions. In 2012, Transport for NSW decided the routes to the University of Sydney and Barangaroo via The Rocks provided "fewer customer benefits and are therefore considered a lower priority". A route from Circular Quay to UNSW via Central Station was seen as the best option. On 6 December 2012, it was reported that the government was preparing to announce a commitment to build the UNSW to Central section, with a line up George Street to Circular Quay to be built at a later date.
The City of Sydney Council has also 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.
The Metro Light Rail uses German-design Variotram vehicles manufactured in Dandenong, Victoria by Adtranz (now Bombardier). The trams are bi-directional and the Variotram design is modular and has been extended for the Sydney system. The capacity of the vehicles is 217 passengers, of which 74 are seated. On tests up to three trams have been coupled together allowing a maximum capacity of 600 passengers if required.
The vehicles have a low floor (floor to rail level 300 millimetres / 12 inches) style and the bogies have no axles between the wheels and are powered with gearless hub motors. There are 7 trams currently in use. The articulated design allows a wide body car without overswing on curves and they have had their design weight reduced to compensate for the addition of climate-control air-conditioning equipment. The trams run on 750 volt direct current and each tram is fitted with three doors each side which have enhanced safety systems with obstacle detection interlocked with the traction system
In conjunction with the Dulwich Hill extension, 10 additional trams will join the fleet. These will be constructed by Spanish company Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles which was awarded the tender on 16 August 2012.
The Metro Light Rail uses its own ticketing system based on zones, which was discontinued when Opal was rolled out. Day and weekly tickets which also allow travel on the Metro Monorail are available. A "TramLink" ticket ,that used to be available, allows travel on Sydney Trains and the light rail is available from Sydney trains stations but is not sold on trams. It was removed with all other paper tickets.
From 27 June 2011 the Metro Light Rail has been partially integrated into the broader Sydney ticketing system. Tickets recognised on the light rail are all MyMultis, the Pensioner Excursion Ticket and Family Funday Sunday. The light rail will also be part of Sydney's future electronic ticketing system. The integration led to a 30 to 40 percent increase in patronage on the line in the first months after introduction.
NSW Government's PurchaseEdit
On Friday, 23 March 2012 it was announced that the state government had bought Metro Transport Sydney, the owner of Sydney's Light Rail and Monorail systems. The NSW Government says that this will allow them to face fewer obstacles in extending the network.