Light Rail on Track for 2019 Completion
If you’ve had the misfortune of driving anywhere near George Street, Alison Road or Anzac Parade over the last couple of years, you’ll be painfully aware of the CBD and South East Light Rail works. It has thrown many a sat nav into blind panic (which doesn’t take much) and really slowed things down on Anzac Parade.
Bruce Notley-Smith, Coogee State Member and long-time advocate of the light rail project, acknowledged that, “Like any major infrastructure project, construction of the light rail has been very disruptive to the daily lives of my constituents, and I thank them for their continued patience.”
“I urge those who doubt the success of the project to keep an open mind… I’m confident residents will love the final outcome.”
But when will this construction nightmare end and the benefits start kicking in? According to Transport NSW, the light rail is on track (pun intended) to open in early 2019 (no specific date yet), consisting of 19 stops across 12km, starting from Circular Quay and travelling along George Street to Central Station, through Surry Hills to Moore Park, then on to Kensington and Kingsford via Anzac Parade and Randwick via Alison Road and High Street. This makes little difference to those in Bondi, Bronte, Tamarama or Maroubra, but for Randwick, Clovelly and Coogee residents, it could sort your commute right out.
Services will run from 5am to 1am. During peak hours (7am-7pm), services between the CBD and Moore Park will operate every four minutes, while services along the Randwick and Kingsford branches will operate every eight.
“The system can grow to meet future demand by operating at increased frequency,” a Transport NSW spokesperson told The Beast.
Each vehicle can carry 450 passengers, which is the equivalent of nine buses. Carrying up to 13,500 commuters per hour at peak, this should decrease traffic and provide a more reliable service (see ya later traffic jams).
Another proposed benefit is increased accessibility to sporting venues, hospitals and educational facilities around Moore Park and Randwick. They’ll be ramping up services during busy events (eff you Uber surges) and you can also transfer to the Inner West Light Rail at Central Station, George Street and Haymarket, making your commute to hipster breweries on weekends marginally less faffy.
All fares will be set by Transport NSW, with guidance from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal. Nothing has been set in stone yet but Opal cards will be used across all services.
We may be a bit slow on banning plastic bags, but at least our light rail is environmentally focused! Many have understandably criticised the project for destroying trees and recreational land. According to the Environmental Impact Statement however, “Where the loss of trees is unable to be mitigated, trees would be replaced at a ratio of 2:1.”
According to the Transport NSW website, the light rail will reduce greenhouse gases by 663,000 tonnes over 30 years by decreasing reliance on cars and buses. It uses ten times less energy than a car per passenger kilometre and the vehicles are 99% recyclable. It is also set to generate $3 billion in economic benefit for NSW, including the creation of 4,500 direct jobs between 2014 and 2020.
Statistics aside, how do locals feel about the project? Bronte local Paul believes, “The route is to satisfy the racing interests rather than provide transportation for residents.”
Heather from Coogee says, “On principle I dislike it – the funding source, racecourse money, killing 100 year-old trees, etc. It could end up being great, I’m just skeptical!”
Claire from Kensington acknowledges that the value of her property will increase once the work is finished, but she was very sad to see the huge fig trees removed along Alison Road.
She has also has been hugely affected by the construction.
“They work throughout the night on most nights, with very loud equipment such as jack-hammers… In the earlier days, I called the complaint line almost in tears because it was so bad,” she told The Beast.
“They couldn’t offer any good solution. Recently, I took up ALTRAC’s offer of staying elsewhere for a night and they will reimburse me for up to $200 per room.”
So it seems the general consensus is still somewhat cynical, with many local noses out of joint. But whatever your thoughts on the matter, one thing is for sure: this project is going full steam ahead.