From December 14, Sydneysiders will be able to travel on a tram down George Street for the first time since 1961. New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced that, after months of delays, the CBD and South East light rail will begin services. On the first weekend passengers can travel on the service for free from 11am Saturday.
The new light rail will run from 5am until 1am daily and is expected to carry up to 13,500 commuters an hour during peak hours. Each 67-metre-long tram can hold up to 450 passengers – equivalent of nine buses (a Melbourne tram is generally 34 metres).
Between 7am and 7pm for the next six months, services will run every four to eight minutes between Circular Quay and Central station, and every eight to 12 minutes between Central and Randwick. In six months, it is expected to have increased frequency outside of those hours.
It will cost commuters $2.24 to travel zero to three kilometres, $3.73 for three to eight kilometres and $4.80 more than eight kilometres.
Stretching for 12.8 kilometres, the light rail will begin at Circular Quay and run through the CBD, Central, Surry Hills, Moore Park, UNSW and terminate at Randwick Hospital Campus. Additional services will be put on from the Central Chalmers Street stop when major events are on at Moore Park and Randwick Racecourse. In March 2020 the L3 Kingsford line will open, with five more stops between Moore Park and Kingsford.
Like the Sydney Metro, which opened its first line in May, the light rail will be a “turn up and go” service, meaning passengers won’t have to refer to timetables before travelling. Every tram is fully accessible, with platform-level floors, double doors and dedicated spaces for wheelchairs and prams.
The project was due to be completed in March, but was delayed by legal disputes with contractors and inflated budgets. The final project came in at just under $3 billion, almost double what Berejiklian predicted in 2012 when she was transport minister.