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CBD and South East Light Rail

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The CBD and South East Light Rail is a future light rail line in the Australian city of Sydney, New South Wales, running from Circular Quay at the northern end of the central business district to the south-eastern suburbs of Randwick and Kingsford. The line will be part of Sydney's light rail network and is set to be finished in 2020. Major construction commenced in October 2015. The project is being managed by the New South Wales Government's transport authority, Transport for NSW. Construction, operation and maintenance of the line is contracted to the ALTRAC Light Rail consortium.

Background and initial announcement

Since the light rail network's original line opened in 1997, a line through the Sydney central business district had been suggested numerous times but failed to achieve the support of the New South Wales Government. This changed in February 2010 when the Keneally Government announced a new line from Haymarket to Circular Quay via Barangaroo.[1] The final route was not decided, with the three options being to send the line north via George Street, Sussex Street or a loop using both.[2]

When the O'Farrell Government took office in March 2011, it committed to building a line through the CBD to Barangaroo, with a preferred route along George Street.[3][4][5] 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.[4][6] On 8 December 2011, the government announced shortlisted potential routes for these extensions.[5] In 2012, Transport for NSW decided the routes to Sydney University and Barangaroo via The Rocks provided fewer customer benefits and were considered a lower priority. A route from Circular Quay to the University of New South Wales via Central station was seen as the best option.[7]

On 13 December 2012, the government announced a commitment to build a $1.6 billion line from Circular Quay down George Street to Central station, then across to Moore Park and down Anzac Parade with branches to Kingsford and Randwick.[8] Construction was expected to begin in 2014 and to take five to six years.[8][9]

Design

The line services areas that were previously served by Sydney's former tram network. Much of the new route follows tram lines of the former network.

The route is mostly on-street but includes an off-street section through Moore Park. The only major engineering works on the line are a new bridge over the Eastern Distributor and a tunnel under Moore Park and Anzac Parade.

Several changes to the design were announced in December 2014. The major changes involve revising platform lengths at all stops to support an increase in the length of the trams from 45m to 67m, redesigning several stops, switching technologies for the delivery of the wire-free section and the removal of a proposed stop at World Square. It was also announced that the projected cost had increased from $1.6 billion to $2.2 billion. The government claimed the increase was due to the design modifications, but a 2016 report produced by the Audit Office of New South Wales found that the increase was largely due to Transport for NSW underestimating the cost of the project.[10][11][12]

The design included the creation of a pedestrian zone along approximately 40% of George Street, between Bathurst and Hunter streets.[8][13][14]

The section between Bathurst Street and Circular Quay will be wire-free.[15] This was originally to have been achieved by equipping the trams with batteries and providing recharging facilities at stops. This was changed to the proprietary ground-level power supply technology of the tram supplier, Alstom.

The line is designed to handle special events in the Moore Park precinct and at Royal Randwick Racecourse. Events at Moore Park were initially planned to be served using two coupled trams 90m long, with double length platforms at the Central Station and Moore Park stops.[13][16] Following the decision to increase the length of the trams to 67m, the plans to operate coupled trams were abandoned.

A depot for the trams will be built at the north-western corner of Royal Randwick Racecourse, providing stabling facilities and allowing light maintenance. Heavy maintenance will be conducted at the former Rozelle railway yard at Lilyfield, with access to the facility provided via the Inner West Light Rail.[13]

Construction

The line is being built as a public-private partnership, with the contract covering detailed design, major construction, operation and maintenance of the line as well as the provision of rolling stock. A contract for early construction works was awarded to Laing O'Rourke in July 2014.[17]

In February 2014, three consortia were short listed for the main contract - covering the construction and operation of the line:[18][19]

  • Connecting Sydney - Acciona Infrastructure Australia, Alstom, Capella Capital & Transdev
  • iLinQ - Balfour Beatty, Bombardier Transportation, Keolis Downer, Macquarie Capital & McConnell Dowell
  • SydneyConnect - John Holland, Plenary Group & Serco

The iLinQ consortium withdrew after Balfour Beatty pulled out of the group. Balfour Beatty was reportedly concerned about cost overruns for the project and falling profitability of the company as a whole.[20]

On 23 October 2014, Connecting Sydney was announced as the preferred bidder. The contract was finalised in December 2014, when it was also announced that the consortium had been renamed ALTRAC Light Rail, and that the opening date had been brought forward to early 2019.[21] The contract also included the operation and maintenance of the Inner West Light Rail from mid-2015.[22][23][24]

Major construction commenced on 23 October 2015, beginning in the section of George Street between King and Market Streets. To minimise disruption along the length of the corridor, works were intended to be staggered across 31 construction zones. The first section of track in the CBD was laid in December 2016, by which time a total of 410 metres of track had already been laid across the project.[25] This increased to around 5 kilometres of track by May 2017.[26] By October 2017, track laying had been completed in seven of the 31 zones along the alignment.[27]

Testing commenced on a short section of the line along Alison Road in February 2018.[28] It reached Circular Quay in July 2019.[29] This enabled testing to take place along the entire line (apart from the Kingsford branch).

Delays

Construction has suffered from significant delays. Major construction of the project was due to conclude in April 2018, though finishing works were to continue for some time after.[30][31]

Delays at two zones in the CBD were announced in August 2016. Originally meant to be completed before Christmas 2016, construction work at these zones was to continue for several months longer than originally anticipated.[32] The zones were eventually opened around a year after the planned completion date.[33] Further delays to the project arose during 2016.[34]

By the beginning of 2018 the whole project was significantly behind schedule. In March 2018 - one month before major works were originally due to be completed - the Transport Minister declined to put a date on when he expected construction of the line to be finished, but noted the government was "an unhappy customer" of the ALTRAC consortium.[35]

The relationship deteriorated between the New South Wales Government and Acciona Infrastructure – the construction company delivering the line. A media report from December 2016 claimed a dispute had arisen between the parties over costs incurred from modifications to the line's design.[34] Acciona commenced legal action against the government in April 2018. The company sought additional payments totalling $1.2 billion.[36] Later in the month ALTRAC told the government it was working towards a completion date of March 2020.[37]

In October 2018, Acciona stated the project would not be completed until May 2020.[38] By March 2019, Transport for NSW was reportedly working to have the line open in stages.[39]

The legal dispute was resolved in June 2019, with the New South Wales Government agreeing to pay up to $576 million extra to complete the project. Up to $129 million will only be paid once milestones are met, including the start of passenger services between Circular Quay and Randwick from December 2019, and between Circular Quay and Kingsford by March 2020.[40] A media report in July indicated services were expected to commence between Circular Quay and Randwick in the first week of December and also suggested the Kingsford branch could open earlier than March 2020.[29]

Associated works

Separate to the light rail budget, Randwick City Council earmarked $68 million to partially mitigate the impacts of the light rail. Projects include replacing some of the car parking spaces that will be lost, especially in Kingsford, works to improve traffic flow in the district and public domain works.[41]

The City of Sydney will provide $220 million towards the light rail project. This will include money for public domain works on George Street and surrounding laneways.[42] The centrepiece of these works is a large arch structure located outside the Sydney Town Hall. Cloud Arch will act as a gateway to the pedestrian section of George Street, with trams passing underneath it.[43]

Criticism

There have been criticism of the project from some parties:

  • Action for Public Transport, that it will not have sufficient capacity to replace the bus routes eliminated.[44]
  • Save Our Suburbs, that it will disrupt vehicular traffic[45]
  • Save Randwick's Trees objecting to the loss of nearly 1,000 trees including from Centennial, Moore and High Cross parks.[46]
  • Save our Park campaigning against the loss of Centennial, Moore and adjacent park lands.[47]

Bus network changes

The CBD and South East Light Rail requires significant changes to the bus networks of the Sydney Central Business District and the Eastern Suburbs. Prior to construction of the light rail, bus routes using George Street were permanently removed from the street. The network will be further redesigned when the light rail opens in 2020. Some bus routes from the Eastern Suburbs will be removed from the CBD, with many of the routes integrated with the light rail interchanges at Randwick and Kingsford. Some passengers will be required to change from bus to light rail to complete their journey.

During construction

To accommodate construction of the light rail on George Street, new bus timetables were introduced on 4 October 2015. Buses were diverted from George Street on to other streets in the CBD.[30] Some routes had their terminus changed to such places as Railway Square, Queen Victoria Building and King Street Wharf. A small number of routes were either combined so that they run through the CBD without terminating, removed from the CBD entirely or completely discontinued.[48][49][50][51][52]

After completion

Some bus routes which were diverted from George Street to other streets during the construction, will terminate at Railway Square with their passengers to join the Light Rail while others will be rerouted permanently to the streets to which they were diverted.[53]

The project's Environmental Impact Statement (released in 2013) proposed twenty bus routes that would be withdrawn or curtailed between Kingsford/Randwick and Railway Square/Circular Quay. A number of bus routes using Anzac Parade will unload city bound passengers at the Nine Ways interchange to board the light rail, then continue along Anzac Parade to the University of New South Wales to unload passengers before terminating in Todman Avenue, Kensington. Some bus routes currently operating to the city via Randwick will become feeder services that drop off city bound passengers at the light rail terminus.[53]

Operation

As a member of the ALTRAC Light Rail consortium, Transdev will operate the line until 2034.[54] Services on the Randwick branch are proposed to be numbered L2 and services on the Kingsford branch are proposed to be numbered L3.[55]

Fleet

The service will be operated by 60 five-section Alstom Citadis X05 trams operating in coupled pairs.[56][57] The first was completed in May 2017, arriving at the Randwick depot on 28 July 2017.[58][59][60]

Route

The line will commence outside Circular Quay station heading west on Alfred Street, before proceeding south down George Street, then east via Rawson Place and Eddy Avenue, and south via Chalmers Street to Central station. It will then continue east via Devonshire Street over the Eastern Distributor and under Moore Park and Anzac Parade via a tunnel before heading south via the former bus right of way. At the intersection of Anzac Parade and Alison Road the line will split into two branches, one continuing down Anzac Parade to terminate outside the South Sydney Junior Rugby League Club at Kingsford, and the second to Randwick via Alison Road, Wansey Road and High Street.[8]

Stations

The line includes the following stations:

Circular Quay

Transfer
Circular Quay railway station
Circular Quay ferry wharf
Circular Quay bus routes

The Circular Quay stop will serve the locality of Circular Quay at the northern end of the Central Business District. The stop will be on Alfred St between Pitt and Loftus Streets. The area has an established role as a transport interchange and is already served by buses, trains and ferries. The stop will comprise one island platform and one side platform.[61]

Bridge Street

Transfer
None

The Bridge Street stop will be located on George Street, near the intersections with Bridge Street and Grosvenor Street. The stop was known as Grosvenor Street during development. The design includes an island platform. The design originally included two side platforms but was switched to an island platform to retain the existing dedicated left-hand turning lane from George Street into Grosvenor Street.[62]

Wynyard

Transfer
Wynyard railway station
Wynyard Park bus routes

The Wynyard stop serves the locality of Wynyard. The stop will be located at the northern end of the George Street pedestrian zone, adjacent to the entrance to Wynyard railway station. The design includes two side platforms.[63]

QVB

Transfer
Bus

The QVB stop will be located on George Street south of Market Street and adjacent to the Queen Victoria Building, a shopping centre from which the stop takes its name. The design includes two side platforms.[64]

Town Hall

Transfer
Town Hall railway station, Bus

The Town Hall stop will be located at the southern end of the George Street pedestrian zone, adjacent to St Andrew's Cathedral. It is named after Town Hall railway station and the Sydney Town Hall.[65] The stop will consist of two side platforms.[66]

Chinatown

Transfer
Capitol Square tram stop

The Chinatown stop will be located on George Street, north of Campbell Street. It is named after Sydney's Chinatown precinct. The Capitol Square stop on the Inner West Light Rail is nearby. The design was to include two side platforms, but was changed to an island platform in the project's Submissions Report. The location was also moved 15 metres north.[67]

Haymarket

Transfer
Bus

The Haymarket stop, known as Rawson Place during development, will serve as an interchange for buses entering the city via Broadway. The design includes two side platforms for trams and an adjacent platform for buses, which would allow some bus - tram cross-platform transfers.[68]

Central

Transfer
Central railway station, Bus

The Central stop will be located on Chalmers Street, serving the eastern side of the Central railway station precinct. The stop will also be known as Central Chalmers Street to distinguish it from the existing stop on the Inner West Light Rail, which is located some distance away.[65] The new stop will consist of one side platform and one island platform.[69]

The stop was originally proposed to consist of three double length (90 metre) platforms, with one of the platforms to be used only during special events - the roadway being open to general traffic at other times.[70] This third platform was removed in the project's Submissions Report, with a crossover to the north of the stop provided instead. The Report also proposed diverting most general traffic via Randle Street and converting the section of Chalmers Street opposite the station into a pedestrian/traffic shared zone.[71] As a result of the December 2014 decision to increase the length of the trams, plans to run double length trams during special events at Moore Park were abandoned. Consequently, the Modifications Report reduced the platform length from 90 metres to 75 metres.[10][72] The third platform was reinstated in an urban design plan released in 2017. This report also proposed closing Chalmers Street to through traffic.[69]

Surry Hills

Transfer
Bus

The Surry Hills stop will be located on Devonshire Street, adjacent to Ward Park in Surry Hills. The design originally featured an island platform but was changed to side platforms in the project's Submissions Report.[67] Groundwork for a second Surry Hills stop at Wimbo Park for a potential future station if required will be completed in the initial construction phase.

Moore Park

Transfer
None

The Moore Park stop serves the Moore Park precinct. In regular service the stop serves Sydney Boys High School, Sydney Girls High School and The Entertainment Quarter. The stop is also designed to handle major events at the Sydney Football Stadium and Sydney Cricket Ground, with grade separated access to the platform. At-grade access to the stop will be provided for regular use and for disabled passengers during major events.[73] The design features a 75-metre island platform.

The stop's design experienced a number of modifications. Initially, an overhead concourse was proposed for access to the stop during special events with at-grade access at other times. School students would have used the existing footpath and pedestrian crossing of Anzac Parade.[74]

In the project's Submissions Report, the stop was moved 250 metres south and a pedestrian bridge over Anzac Parade and the light rail tracks was included in the design, replacing the existing at-grade crossing of the road and an associated set of traffic lights. The bridge was to be connected to the concourse.[75] In December 2014, the overhead concourse was removed, with underground access for major events provided at both ends of the platform. At-grade access will be used by disabled passengers during major events and by all passengers at other times. The bridge will now be a separate structure. As a result of the decision to increase the length of the trams, plans to run double length trams during major events were abandoned. Consequently, the platform length was reduced from 90 metres to 75 metres.[10][76]

Royal Randwick

Branch
Randwick
Transfer
Bus

Royal Randwick, known as Royal Randwick Racecourse during development, is located at the edge of Centennial Park, adjacent to Alison Road and opposite the racecourse. The design features an island platform. The proposed location was switched from the south side to the north side of Alison Road in December 2014. This change intended to reduce impacts on the racecourse, improve bus access during major events and provide better access to the nearby Centennial Park and Randwick TAFE.[10]

Wansey Stables

Branch
Randwick
Transfer
None

Wansey Stables will be located on Alison Road, adjacent to the intersection with Wansey Road. The design features an island platform and was originally to be located on Wansey Road itself, but was moved to Alison Road in the project's Submissions Report.[67]

UNSW High Street

Branch
Randwick
Transfer
None

The UNSW High Street stop serves the north-eastern part of the University of New South Wales campus. It was to have been located at the southern end of Wansey Road, adjacent to High Street, but was moved onto High Street itself as part of the project's Submissions Report.[67] As part of the changes to the Randwick stop, the design was changed from an island platform to two side platforms.[77]

Randwick

Branch
Randwick
Transfer
Bus

Randwick will be located the eastern end of High Street in Randwick. The design features an island platform. The site is proposed to be a major interchange between buses and light rail. Bus stops are proposed for Belmore Road, Avoca Street and Clara Street.[78]

The original design featured two side platforms located in High Cross Park adjacent to Belmore Road.[79] This location attracted criticism from community members due to loss of trees and parkland.[80][81] The stop was redesigned in the project's Submissions Report to reduce the loss of green space in the park, however a campaign to move the stop continued.[67][81] Randwick City Council requested the stop be moved to High Street, outside the Prince of Wales Hospital and Transport for NSW ultimately agreed to do this.[81] A location within High Cross Park was considered to provide the best interchanges between trams and buses.[82]

ES Marks

Branch
Kingsford
Transfer
None

ES Marks, known as Carlton Street during development, will be located on Anzac Parade south of the intersection with Carlton Street. The stop will serve a residential area. It is named after the nearby ES Marks Athletics Field.[65] The design features an island platform.[83]

Kensington

Branch
Kingsford
Transfer
None

Kensington, named Todman Avenue during development, will be located on Anzac Parade north of the intersection with Todman Avenue. The stop serves a residential area and a shopping strip on Anzac Parade in the suburb of Kensington. The design features an island platform.[84]

UNSW Anzac Parade

Branch
Kingsford
Transfer
Bus

UNSW Anzac Parade serves the western part of the University of New South Wales campus and the National Institute of Dramatic Art. The design includes an island platform in the centre of Anzac Parade, north of the University Mall.

The stop was to be located on the eastern side of Anzac Parade and include one island platform and one side platform - though only two tracks. In the project's Submissions Report, the side platform was removed and the stop was moved to the centre of Anzac Parade.[67][85]

Kingsford

Branch
Kingsford
Transfer
None

The Kingsford stop, known during development as Strachan Street, will be located on Anzac Parade to the south of the intersection of Strachan Street and Middle Street in Kingsford. The stop serves a residential area and a shopping strip on Anzac Parade. The design features an island platform.[86]

Juniors Kingsford

Branch
Kingsford
Transfer
Bus

Juniors Kingsford, known as Nine Ways during development, will be located on the southern side of the Nine Ways intersection in Kingsford. The design features two island platforms with the light rail using the two outer platforms and buses using the two inner platforms, providing cross-platform transfers. Terminating facilities for trams are located south of the stop.[87] Transport for NSW submitted a proposal to name the stop Juniors Kingsford which was approved by the New South Wales Geographical Names Board in January 2019.[88][89]

Potential extension

Transport for NSW is investigating an extension along the southern Anzac Parade corridor. Three potential options are being examined; a 1.9 kilometre extension to Maroubra Junction, a 5.1 kilometre extension to Malabar and an 8.2 kilometre extension to La Perouse.[90][91] An extension to Maroubra Junction has the support of Randwick City Council.[92]

References

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Attribution

This article incorporates text from the following revision of the English Wikipedia article "CBD and South East Light Rail": https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=CBD_and_South_East_Light_Rail&oldid=883141160.

External links