CBD and South East Light Rail

The CBD and South East Light Rail is a partly-opened Australian light rail line in 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. It is part of Sydney's light rail network. Major construction commenced in October 2015. The project is being managed by Transport for NSW. Construction, operation and maintenance of the line is contracted to the ALTRAC Light Rail consortium.

CBD and South East Light Rail
A near-complete section of the George Street pedestrian zone in December 2017
Overview
StatusPartly-opened; one line under construction
TerminiCircular Quay
Juniors Kingsford, Randwick
Stations19
Operation
Planned openingMarch 2020 (L3 Kingsford)
Opened14 December 2019 (L2 Randwick)
OwnerTransport for NSW
Operator(s)Transdev Sydney
Depot(s)Lilyfield
Randwick
Rolling stock60 Alstom Citadis X05s
Technical
Track length12 km (7.5 mi)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification750 V (DC) overhead line, Ground-level power supply between Town Hall and Circular Quay
Operating speed70 km/h (43 mph)
Route map

Circular Quay
Bridge Street
Wynyard
QVB
Town Hall
Chinatown
Maintenance access only for CSELR trams
Dulwich Hill Line (Capitol Square Stop)
Haymarket
Central
Surry Hills
Moore Park Tunnel
Moore Park
Anzac Parade Junction
ES Marks
Randwick Stabling Facility
Kensington
Royal Randwick
Wansey Road
UNSW Anzac Parade
UNSW High Street
Kingsford
Randwick
Juniors Kingsford

Passenger services between Circular Quay and Randwick, known as the L2 Randwick Line, commenced on 14 December 2019,[1][2] while services between Circular Quay and Juniors Kingsford, known as the L3 Kingsford Line, are expected to commence in March 2020.

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 State Government support.[3][4] This changed in February 2010 when the Keneally Government announced a new line from Haymarket to Circular Quay via Barangaroo.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7][8][9] 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.[8][10] On 8 December 2011, the government announced shortlisted potential routes for these extensions.[9] In 2012, Transport for NSW (TfNSW) 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.[11]

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.[12] Construction was expected to begin in 2014 and to take five to six years.[12][13]

Design

The line services areas that were previously served by Sydney's former tram network. Some 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 were a new bridge over the Eastern Distributor and a tunnel under Moore Park and Anzac Parade. There will be between eight and ten new traffic light controlled intersections created along the route.

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 45 metres to 67 metres, 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 TfNSW underestimating the cost of the project.[14][15][16]

A pedestrian zone was established along approximately 40% of George Street, between Bathurst and Hunter Streets.[12][17][18]

The section between Bathurst Street and Circular Quay is wire-free, with trams using Alstom's proprietary ground-level power supply technology to run instead.[19] This was originally to have been achieved by equipping the trams with batteries and providing recharging facilities at stops.

The line is designed to handle special events in the Moore Park precinct and at Randwick Racecourse. Events at Moore Park were initially planned to be served using two coupled trams 90 metres (300 ft) long, with double length platforms at the Central Station and Moore Park stops.[17][18] Following the decision to make all tram vehicles operate in coupled pairs with a total length of 67 metres (220 ft), the plans to build double length platforms at Central and Moore Park were abandoned, and platforms of all stops will be 67 metres (220 ft) long.

A depot for the trams was built at the north-western corner of Randwick Racecourse, providing stabling facilities and allowing light maintenance. Heavy maintenance will be conducted at the Lilyfield Maintenance Depot at the site of the former Rozelle Yard.[20] The maintenance depot will be accessed via the Inner West Light Rail.[17]

Construction

The line was built as a public-private partnership (PPP), 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.[21]

In February 2014, three consortia were short listed for the main contract - covering the construction and operation of the line:[22][23]

The iLinQ consortium withdrew after Balfour Beatty pulled out. Balfour Beatty was reportedly concerned about cost overruns for the project and falling profitability of the company as a whole.[24]

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.[25] The contract also included the operation and maintenance of the Inner West Light Rail from mid-2015.[26][27][28]

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 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.[29] This increased to around 5 kilometres of track by May 2017.[30] By October 2017, track installation reached the halfway mark, with 12,000 metres of track laid at 23 of the 31 zones along the alignment.[31]

Delays

Construction 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.[32][33]

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.[34] The zones were eventually opened around a year after the planned completion date.[35] Further delays to the project arose during 2016.[36]

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.[37]

The relationship between the New South Wales Government and Acciona Infrastructure – the construction company delivering the line - had deteriorated with a dispute arising between the parties over costs incurred from modifications to the line's design.[36] Acciona commenced legal action against the government in April 2018. The company is seeking additional payments totalling $1.2 billion.[38] Later in the month ALTRAC told the government it was working towards a completion date of March 2020.[39][40]

In October 2018, Acciona announced further delays to the project, stating that it would not be completed until May 2020.[41]

In June 2019, TfNSW and ALTRAC (including Acciona) reached an agreement to resolve their commercial issues and legal claims. As part of the agreement, the PPP was extended to 2036, with the government to pay up to $576 million over the duration of an extended PPP term, and ALTRAC shareholders to invest additional equity into the project to meet costs.[42] The settlement package resolved over $1.5 billion of legal claims between TfNSW and ALTRAC, and Acciona withdrew its $1.1 billion legal misrepresentation claim against the government. The agreement also included milestone and incentive payments for light rail services to commence in two stages, with target start dates of December 2019 between Randwick and Circular Quay, and March 2020 between Kingsford and Circular Quay.

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 were lost, especially in Kingsford, works to improve traffic flow in the district and public domain works.[43]

The City of Sydney planned to provide $220 million towards the light rail project. This would include money for public domain works on George Street and surrounding laneways.[44] The centrepiece of these works was to be a large arch structure known as Cloud Arch located outside the Sydney Town Hall, however it was cancelled in late 2018 after cost blowouts. [45] Cloud Arch would have acted as a gateway to the pedestrian section of George Street, with trams passing underneath it.[46]

Testing

In February 2018, testing of the line commenced on a short section of the Randwick branch along Alison Road.[47] Testing along the rest of the Randwick branch and the main line to Circular Quay was achieved in August 2019,[48] while the Kingsford branch, which will open three months later than the rest of the line, commenced testing in October 2019.[49]

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[50]
  • Save Our Suburbs, that it will disrupt vehicular traffic[51]
  • Save Randwick's Trees objecting to the loss of nearly 1,000 trees including from Centennial, Moore and High Cross parks[52]
  • Save our Park campaigning against the loss of Centennial, Moore and adjacent park lands[53]

Bus network changes

The CBD and South East Light Rail required significant changes to the bus networks of the Sydney central business district and the Eastern Suburbs. Prior to construction of the light rail, Hillsbus and State Transit 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, including Elizabeth, Castlereagh, Park, Druitt, Clarence and York Streets.[32] 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.[54][55][56][57][58]

After completion

Proposed arrangement

The project's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released in 2013 proposed a redesigned bus network in the CBD and the Eastern Suburbs. Some bus routes which were diverted from George Street to other streets during the construction, were proposed to 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.[59] Twenty bus routes were proposed to be withdrawn or curtailed between Kingsford/Randwick and Railway Square/Circular Quay. A number of bus routes using Anzac Parade would unload city bound passengers at the Nine Ways (now Juniors Kingsford) 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 that were currently operating to the city via Randwick would become feeder services that drop off city bound passengers at the light rail terminus.

The proposed changes for the Eastern Suburbs bus routes as per the EIS were as follows:[59]

Some bus changes had been made to bus routes in the list since 2013. For example, route 343 currently runs as a through route between Kingsford and Chatswood without terminating at the CBD, and UNSW routes had been reconfigured as bus routes 891, 893 and 898.

Final arrangement

The final bus network will be announced in due time and changes to bus services will be implemented four to six weeks after the commencement of L3 Kingsford Line services in March 2020.[60]

Operation

Exterior (left) and interior (right) of the Alstom Citadis X05 trams to be used on the CBD and South East Light Rail

As a member of the ALTRAC Light Rail consortium, Transdev will operate the line until the end of the PPP, set to end at 2036.[42][61] Services on the Randwick branch are numbered L2 and services on the Kingsford branch are numbered L3.[62]

Fleet

The service is operated by 60 five-section Alstom Citadis X05 trams operating in coupled pairs.[63][64] The first was completed in May 2017, arriving at the Randwick depot on 28 July 2017.[65][66][67]

Route

The line commences 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 splits into two branches, one (to be opened in March 2020) will continue down Anzac Parade to terminate outside the South Sydney Junior Rugby League Club at Kingsford, and the second (currently operating) branch goes to Randwick via Alison Road, Wansey Road and High Street.[12]

Stations

The line includes the following stations:

Circular Quay

Transfer
Circular Quay railway station
Circular Quay ferry wharf
Circular Quay bus routes
Location
33°51′41.74″S 151°12′35.52″E

The Circular Quay stop serves the locality of Circular Quay at the northern end of the Central Business District. The stop is 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 comprises one island platform and one side platform.[68]
🌍

Bridge Street

Transfer
None
Location
33°51′50.67″S 151°12′26.79″E

The Bridge Street stop, known as Grosvenor Street during development,[69] is located on George Street, near the intersections with Bridge Street and Grosvenor Street. 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.[18]

Wynyard

Transfer
Wynyard railway station
Wynyard Park bus routes
Location
33°51′58.37″S 151°12′26.15″E

The Wynyard stop serves the locality of Wynyard. The stop is 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.[68]

QVB

Transfer
Bus
Location
33°52′16.68″S 151°12′25.11″E

The QVB stop, known as Queen Victoria Building during development,[69] is located on George Street south of Market Street and adjacent to the Queen Victoria Building (often abbreviated QVB), a shopping centre from which the stop takes its name. The design includes two side platforms.[68]

Town Hall

Transfer
Town Hall railway station, Bus
Location
33°52′26.28″S 151°12′24.74″E

The Town Hall stop is 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.[69] The stop will consist of two side platforms.[68]

Chinatown

Transfer
L1 Dulwich Hill Line at Capitol Square stop
Location
33°52′43.49″S 151°12′20.01″E

The Chinatown stop is located on George Street, north of Campbell Street. It is named after Sydney's Chinatown precinct. The Capitol Square stop on the Dulwich Hill Line 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.[70]

Haymarket

Transfer
Bus
Location
33°52′53.51″S 151°12′20.18″E

The Haymarket stop, known as Rawson Place during development,[69] serves as an interchange for buses heading towards the west via Broadway. The design includes two side platforms for trams and an adjacent platform for buses, which allows bus - tram cross-platform transfers.[71]

Central Chalmers Street

Transfer
Central railway station, Bus
Location
33°53′5.31″S 151°12′25.94″E

The Central Chalmers Street stop is located on Chalmers Street, serving the eastern side of the Central railway station precinct. The stop was originally known simply as Central during development, but was renamed to distinguish it from the existing Central stop on the Dulwich Hill Line at the station's Grand Concourse.[69] The new stop consists of one side platform and one island platform.[72]

The stop was originally proposed to consist of three double length (90 metre) platforms, with one of the platforms to only be used during special events - the roadway being open to general traffic at other times.[71] 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.[73] 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.[14][18] The third platform was reinstated in an urban design plan released in 2017. This report also proposed closing Chalmers Street to through traffic.[72]
🌍

Surry Hills

Transfer
Bus
Location
33°53′17.32″S 151°12′43.09″E

The Surry Hills stop is 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.[70] 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
Location
33°53′36.07″S 151°13′18.2″E

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 New 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.[18] 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.[71]

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 an existing at-grade crossing of the road and an associated set of traffic lights. The bridge was to be connected to the concourse.[73] 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.[14][18]

Community submissions responding to the changes in the Modifications Report raised concerns about the safety of a large number of school students crossing the tracks during peak schools hours. In response, TfNSW stated that it will consider opening the subways during these hours.[74] A condition of approval for the changes proposed in the Modifications Report requires the preparation of "a safety case demonstrating, to the satisfaction of the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, that schoolchildren can safely access the Moore Park stop during peak school start and finish times".[75]

Royal Randwick

Branch
Randwick
Transfer
Bus
Location
33.905717°S 151.229976°E / -33.905717; 151.229976

Royal Randwick, known as Alison Road and then Royal Randwick Racecourse during development,[69] is located on existing park land adjacent to Centennial Park on Alison Road, opposite the racecourse. This required the construction of a new retaining wall approximately 200 metres long and three metres high together with increasing the height of an existing 1,100 metre long levee by up to 300 millimetres and the removal of approximately 50 established trees.[18][76]

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 is 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.[14] This change includes the removal of right turn access from Alison Road into Darley Road.

Wansey Road

Branch
Randwick
Transfer
None
Location
33°54′41.62″S 151°14′8.08″E

The Wansey Road stop is 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.[70] The stop was originally proposed to be named Wansey Stables.[77]

UNSW High Street

Branch
Randwick
Transfer
None
Location
33°54′57.32″S 151°14′4.91″E

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.[70] As part of the changes to the Randwick stop, the design was changed from an island platform to two side platforms.[78]

Randwick

Branch
Randwick
Transfer
Bus
Location
33.917170°S 151.240978°E / -33.917170; 151.240978

The Randwick stop is located the eastern end of High Street in Randwick. The stop was originally proposed to be named Randwick Junction.[69] The design features an island platform. The site will 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.[71] This location attracted criticism from community members due to loss of trees and parkland.[79][80] 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.[70][80] Randwick City Council requested the stop be moved to High Street, outside the Prince of Wales Hospital and TfNSW ultimately agreed to do this.[80] A location within High Cross Park was considered to provide the best interchanges between trams and buses.[78]

ES Marks

Branch
Kingsford
Transfer
None
Location
33°54′21.15″S 151°13′26.09″E

ES Marks, known as Carlton Street during development,[69] 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. The design features an island platform.[71]

Kensington

Branch
Kingsford
Transfer
None
Location
33°54′34.96″S 151°13′23.97″E

Kensington, known as Todman Avenue during development,[69] 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.[71]

UNSW Anzac Parade

Branch
Kingsford
Transfer
Bus
Location
33°55′0.59″S 151°13′34.19″E

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.[70][71]

Kingsford

Branch
Kingsford
Transfer
None
Location
33°55′17.82″S 151°13′36.62″E

The Kingsford stop, known as Strachan Street during development,[69] 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.[71]

Juniors Kingsford

Branch
Kingsford
Transfer
Bus
Location
33°55′30.51″S 151°13′45.27″E

Juniors Kingsford, originally Nine Ways and known as Kingsford during development,[69][81] 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.[71] In August 2018 TfNSW submitted a proposal with the Geographical Names Board for the stop to be renamed from Nine Ways to Juniors Kingsford which was approved in January 2019.[82][83]

Potential extension

In 2014, TfNSW investigated an extension along the southern Anzac Parade corridor. Three potential options were 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.[84][85] An extension to Maroubra Junction has the support of Randwick City Council.[86]

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