George Street could be a wire-free zone

Posted: April 10, 2013 in Transport
Tags: , ,

George Street could be free of overhead wires when trams run down the CBD’s civic spine at the end of this decade, according to an industry briefing on the CBD and South East Light Rail Line provided by the government earlier this week. The slides that accompanied the briefing, posted on the Transport for NSW website, list catenary free operation as “potential in the CBD area” (page 11). The City of Sydney council has been pushing for no overhead wires in the portion of George Street which is to be pedestrianised as part of the new line. While this does not commit the government, it is the first evidence that it is at least seriously considering this as an option.

City of Sydney Council wants trams on George Street to run without overhead wires. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: City of Sydney)

City of Sydney Council wants trams on George Street to run without overhead wires. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: City of Sydney)

These changes will not come pain free, and the Herald reports that George Street in particular will see 2 years of work starting in mid 2014 in order to relocate major services such as electricity and water. This follows a similar timetable to the light rail line currently under construction on the Gold Coast, and if it is anything to go by then these 2 years will provide the most significant disruption during the construction process.

The new line will operate 45m long trams with a capacity of 300 passengers per vehicle. This compares to 30m long trams that have a smaller capacity of 200 passengers per vehicle, or to existing buses, the longest of which are the bendy buses and have a capacity of 110 passengers per vehicle.

Map of the Randwick and Kingsford portions of the new light rail line. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: CBD and South East Light Rail Industry Briefing Session, Transport for NSW, page 10)

Map of the Randwick and Kingsford portions of the new light rail line. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: CBD and South East Light Rail Industry Briefing Session, Transport for NSW, page 10)

The briefing also includes a map showing that the University of NSW stop will be on UNSW property itself, whereas the current bus stop layout requires passengers to cross the road either when they arrive or depart the university. It also shows the light rail line running along an extended version of the bus road that currently parallels Anzac Parade and Alison Road. This bus road currently ends at Doncaster Avenue on Alison Road, but according to the map light rail will continue in a separate right of way until it reaches Clovelly Road.

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Comments
  1. Ray says:

    I recently visited Nice on the French Riviera and they have a light rail line along their main boulevard which is not unlike George St and which has a pedestrianized mall along most of its length which seems to work quite well. Cross traffic from intersecting streets is still possible which doesn’t seem to be a problem. They also have a section through the main square which has no overhead wires, with the trams running on battery power, and I can see no reason why the same technology couldn’t be applied to Sydney.

  2. wittylama says:

    Could this explain the very large amount of sprayed multicoloured markings on the footpaths outside the UNSW entrance on ANZAC parade? Looks very engineering-works-official and quite intriguing in an abstract public-art kind of way…

  3. I haven’t seen it, though it’s possibly just regular maintenance work. Work on the SE light rail line won’t start until 2014, after the Inner West light rail extension is finished.

  4. MrV says:

    What really is the issue with a single overhead catenary wire? You barely notice them.
    There are far more other things on George St that are more of an eyesore.

  5. Ray says:

    I agree with you MrV that there are more other things on George St that are more of an eyesore, but if the technology is available to dispense with overhead wires, say between Bathurst and Market Streets, why not use it?

  6. Simon says:

    Not putting up the catenary might require battery running, an engine or 3rd rail. I don’t think either is a good idea – battery would add to weight and expense and reduce performance.

  7. Ray says:

    The absence of overhead wires certainly improves the overall aesthetics of the public domain, particularly through the civic heart of Sydney. Don’t forget that there will eventually be a large public square fronting Park St between George and Pitt Sts opposite the Town Hall. I don’t think the issue of extra weight and expense for temporary battery power is relevant. Have a look at .

  8. craig simpson says:

    Why does Sydney try to compare itself to places like Paris and Barcelona. Those places need a boulevard because they don’t have anywhere else to celebrate. Sydney has the harbour and Circular quay and that is where we celebrate. It is where we celebrated the olympic announcement, nye celebrations, Australia Day, Navy anniversaries and all sorts of other events.

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