JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Forty per cent of George Street to be car-free zone in $1.6 billion Sydney tram plan

Date

James Robertson and Jacob Saulwick

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

A new tram plan for Sydney

NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian announces a light rail network from Circular Quay to Kingsford and Randwick aimed at reducing congestion in the CBD.

PT0M0S 620 349

More than 50 years after trams last rattled from the city to Randwick, the state government has announced they will run again.

Releasing its transport plan for the next 20 years on Thursday morning, the government said it would spend $1.6 billion on a 12-kilometre track linking Circular Quay and Central, George Street, Moore Park and the University of NSW. Construction will begin in 2014.

In the CBD, about 40 per cent of George Street, between Bathurst and Hunter streets, will be open only to pedestrians and trams.

Tram plan ... the view from World Square.

Tram plan ... the view from World Square.

"This is a once-in-a-generation project to revitalise the centre of Sydney by reducing congestion and offering a fast, attractive public transport option," Premier Barry O'Farrell said.

The light rail line is the big announcement from the government, which has already said it would build a 33-kilometre WestConnex motorway through Sydney.

The motorway, the tram line, the north-west rail link from Epping to Rouse Hill and potentially another motorway linking the F3 and M2 are now confirmed as the transport priorities of the O'Farrell government.

The route the new tram system will take.

The route the new tram system will take.

At a media conference this morning, Mr O'Farrell stressed the "balance" in the package of projects.

"Over the next four years $25 billion will be spent on transport in this city," he said.

"Under the balanced announcement we are making today, 56 per cent of that will be spent on public transport and 44 per cent will be spent on roads. That's because we understand the need to do both."

What the light rail will look like near Martin Place.

What the light rail will look like near Martin Place.

The light rail announcement represents a victory for Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian against a rival proposal pushed by Infrastructure NSW and its chairman, Nick Greiner, for a bus tunnel underneath the CBD.

Ms Berejiklian said the light rail line would be more reliable than buses, only a small proportion of which ran on time between the city and along Anzac Parade in the eastern suburbs.

"Congestion on roads in the Sydney CBD and surrounding areas will only get worse as the number of jobs in the city grows and the population increases. We have to act now and in a significant way."

The NSW Government has revelaed a new transport plan.

The NSW Government has revelaed a new transport plan.

Construction will probably start first on the eastern section of the line, from Central Station to Randwick. But the whole line will open at the same time. Construction will take between five and six years.

Street-level option

The government had been debating whether to run the trams through Surry Hills or in a tunnel. Ms Berejiklian said it had decided on a street-level option, with trams running down Devonshire Street.

The area around Chalmers Street will be transformed

The area around Chalmers Street will be transformed

This would save hundreds of millions of dollars, she said, but also had the benefit of providing another street-level stop in Surry Hills. People travelling from Randwick to the city would lose a couple of minutes in travel time against the tunnel option.

The government estimates it will take 24 minutes for the trip from Randwick to Central Station and 15 minutes to get from Central to Circular Quay. It now takes 30 minutes in peak hour from Central to Circular Quay .

The new light rail will be able to carry up to 9000 passengers an hour in each direction.

Trams in the Sydney CBD. Click for more photos

Sydney's trams

Trams were once a common sight in Sydney. 

The government also announced an overhaul of the city's bus network to reduce peak-hour buses in the CBD.

Bus reforms include improvements to interchanges, more cross-city routes and higher priority for buses. The government estimates this will mean 220 fewer buses enter the city an hour in peak morning traffic. During the busiest two hours of morning traffic, about 1500 buses normally converge on a few narrow and congested corridors in the middle of Sydney.

Airport congestion

The section of George Street which will be closed off to traffic.

The section of George Street which will be closed off to traffic. Photo: Google

The government also unveiled plans to reduce congestion around Sydney Airport, including building an underpass for the rail line at General Holmes Drive, making airport approach roads one way and widening Mill Pond Road.

"The NSW government does not support a second airport in the Sydney basin, which is why we need to ensure the existing asset is being fully utilised," Mr O'Farrell said.

The projects will cost $300 million and take three to five years to complete.

Trams in the Sydney CBD. Click for more photos

Sydney's trams

Mr O'Farrell and Ms Berejiklian made Thursday's announcement in Castle Hill, the site of an information centre for the north-west rail link.

In the announcement they not only released Transport for NSW's final masterplan, but also responded to a separate state infrastructure strategy written by Infrastructure NSW.

They endorsed Infrastructure NSW's main recommendation, the 33-kilometre WestConnex motorway. But they dismissed its recommendation for a bus tunnel in Sydney's CBD to take the place of light rail.

Mr Greiner said putting light rail in the city would only create a problem. But Mr O'Farrell said the bus tunnel idea would have cost more for not as much benefit. Transport for NSW said the bus tunnel might not be feasible, in part because of its effect on underground CBD railway stations.

Randwick was one of the first destinations for Sydney's first tram network, soon after steam-powered trams were first introduced to the city in 1879.

"The first destination was Randwick racecourse," said Robert Lee, a professor of history at the University of Western Sydney. "This really is history repeating itself."

Sydney's Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, welcomed the announcement as a ''huge win for Sydney''.

''It's a massive investment in the future if our city – the global city of Australia,'' she said.

Cr Moore said the city had lobbied hard for light rail down George Street as a way to reduce the city's congestion.

''Congestion costs Sydney businesses and residents an estimated $5.1 billion a year, and that's projected to more than double to $8.8 billion by 2021,'' she said.

The city was also ''very pleased'' that the government had backed its calls to pedestrianise part of George Street, she said.

The council last year committed $180 million towards the project, to be used for street improvements like widened footpaths, better lighting, landscaping and traffic management.

''As part of that work we will open up a network of vibrant lanes and small plazas which will help shops, bars and other small businesses to thrive,'' she said.

''This will give Sydney the inviting main street it needs to remain commercially competitive and draw tourists to our city.''

Randwick Mayor Tony Bowen also welcomed the announcement as ''great news'' for the area's residents and visitors.

The return of light rail to the eastern suburbs was something the council had strongly advocated for many years, he said.

"Randwick City is unique – no other area in Sydney contains four major hospitals, a leading university and TAFE, a nationally significant racecourse, major sporting stadiums and parklands, and yet has no dedicated rail transport,'' he said.

"I would also like to see the Government commit to maintaining or improving the current bus services in the eastern suburbs, and also consider providing a dedicated bicycle path alongside the light rail route.''

 

302 comments

  • 24mins? the 372 bus from Randwick to Central is timetabled to take 18 mins... That had better be a guesstimate... It should be faster then a bus, not slower!

    Commenter
    No_Door_Matt
    Location
    Coogee/CBD
    Date and time
    December 13, 2012, 11:05AM
    • in peak hour?

      Commenter
      happy rider
      Location
      not randwick
      Date and time
      December 13, 2012, 11:21AM
    • Agree. This government has NO IDEA! 39 minutes, by tram, from Randwick to Circular Quay? Wow, you can travel from Hornsby to Wynyard in around the same amount of time by train.

      So, why are they bothering to build this piece of failed infrastructure if there is no benefit?

      The issue here is that there needs to be a tunnel built underneath Surry Hills and parts of the CBD for this project to work and enable journey times to be reduced. People will simply not use the tram if it takes an eternity to go from A to B.

      Lastly, why isn't the tramline being extended to Coogee/Maroubra/La Perouse/Eastgardens/etc to complete the network? How will this entice people to not drive, and as well, how will the number of buses be reduced?

      Pie in the sky stuff. Would you travel from Maroubra by bus, change for a tram, change again for a train to say North Sydney, etc? Oh, pluueese!

      Commenter
      JJ
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      December 13, 2012, 11:31AM
    • I live in randwick, work near circular quay. Takes me 35min to RUN!!!!

      Commenter
      scott
      Location
      Randwick
      Date and time
      December 13, 2012, 12:07PM
    • Why would you spend billions on one bus route. This government is worse than the last. Spending tax payers money like its out of fashion. L90 already does a similar route. Once again like the Darling Harbor plan the government wants to spend millions and millions on city infrastructure. What about the rest of NSW?

      Commenter
      Shonky
      Date and time
      December 13, 2012, 12:28PM
    • We wasted 1 billion dollars on the last proposal of light rail through to Drummoyne that never eventuated. Why not blow another billion on a pointless project. Heck its only tax payers money. Who cares.

      Commenter
      Spend Spend Spend
      Date and time
      December 13, 2012, 12:32PM
    • Tram is pointless unless it is faster than the bus.

      Otherwise, build it an area which has no existing service.

      Commenter
      enno
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      December 13, 2012, 12:43PM
    • sounds like all those riding their pushbikes to work will be able to beat it!

      Commenter
      eyeswideopen
      Location
      earth
      Date and time
      December 13, 2012, 12:45PM
    • You don't walk in the CBD much do you? It's 30 seconds of walking, then 5 minutes of waiting for the lights to turn green. Then repeat at every intersection.

      Commenter
      Black Palm
      Date and time
      December 13, 2012, 1:16PM
    • I don't mind if they want to convert the CBD into pedestrians only.
      But...Why tram?

      Commenter
      p
      Date and time
      December 13, 2012, 2:04PM

More comments

Comments are now closed

Related Coverage

tram Sydney's trams

Trams were once a common sight in Sydney.

New trams for Sydney (Thumbnail) A new tram plan for Sydney

NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian announces a light rail network from Circular Quay to Kingsford and Randwick aimed at reducing congestion in the CBD.

Revealed: Sydney trams make a comeback

TRAMS will become a major part of Sydney's commute again, the O'Farrell government will announce in its long-awaited final transport plan for the state.

Sydney's tram plans unvieled (Thumbnail) Sydney's tram plans unveiled

The NSW government releases plans to reintroduce trams to the roads in central Sydney.

Now Premier has to get on and build it

Coming up with any sort of meaningful transport policy in this state will always be a process requiring graft, compromise, insight, intelligence, intrigue, skulduggery, chicanery, and appeals to the best and worst of human ambition and desire.

Light rail will run behind schedule

Sydneysiders could face more traffic chaos after the government severely underestimated the difficulty of building a tram line through the heart of the city, according to a damning internal report.

Related Coverage

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo