Trials have begun for the long-awaited Sydney light rail, with the first of the modern trams running part of its route down George Street on Tuesday – something that hasn’t happened in Sydney since 1958.

The early morning tram run began at the Randwick depot in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, passed through the Hay Street intersection at Central, then along George Street and the Town Hall light-rail stop. The trial was completed when it reached the maintenance depot in Lilyfield.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the tram was flanked on either side by police cars and light-rail workers, attracting the attention of Sydneysiders.

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Thirty-six new trams are currently housed at the Randwick Stabling Yard, with more arriving in coming weeks. The depot will eventually house 60 trams each night, where they will undergo light maintenance such as cleaning, servicing and vehicle inspections.

With testing and commissioning already underway, people may spot the new trams travelling through Randwick, Moore Park, Surry Hills, Central Station and onto Town Hall.

Sydney Light Rail says driver training is being ramped up in preparation for the official launch of the service. It also advises the public to be more aware of their surroundings when walking around the light-rail route as trials continue.

The service was originally scheduled for completion in October 2016, but was pushed back to March 2019. Numerous setbacks have delayed the completion of the project.

Passenger trips between Circular Quay and Randwick are expected to begin by December; a second stage from Randwick to Kingsford should begin in March 2020.

There is currently a $400 million class action with the NSW Supreme Court, brought by a consortium of retailers who argue the construction of the light rail had a negative impact on their businesses, leaving many in financial ruin.