Light rail will run on Devonshire St despite community anger

Posted: April 16, 2013 in Transport
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Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian refused to change the alignment of the proposed South East Light Rail Line from Devonshire Street when she faced hostile Surry Hills residents on Monday evening in a community forum organised by the City of Sydney. Many of those who attended reside on the controversial Devonshire St route. A number were angry at what they described as insufficient consultation, with one resident telling Ms Berejiklian “don’t offend us in the future by suggesting this is a consultation. This is not a consultation”. There were also concerns about uncertainty over the future of Devonshire Street and Surry Hills. The new line could see a loss of on street parking and compulsory acquisition of properties, particularly for residents of the Olivia Gardens apartment block on the Eastern end of Devonshire Street, in order to get the line from George Street to Anzac Parade. Some forum participants questioned whether the line could reach Anzac Parade via another route, but these suggestions were rejected.

Residents attended a packed community forum to hear Transport Minister Gladys Berejilkian address their concerns. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Author)

Residents attended a packed community forum to hear Transport Minister Gladys Berejilkian address their concerns. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Author)

Ms Berejiklian accepted that the project was bad for Devonshire Street, at one point almost pleading “if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t be here” to an audience seemingly cynical about her motives. But she insisted that for the rest of Surry Hills there would be many positive benefits that light rail would provide, such as being a catalyst for urban renewal. She also argued that if the alignment were changed, then she would be having a similar conversation with a different group of people, and that as it was the most viable route, the Devonshire Street alignment would remain.

Deputy Director General of Transport for NSW outlined the different alignments considered. He stressed that connectivity with the rest of the network (at Central Station in particular, as this would allow interchanges with buses to occur there, rather than further into the city at Town Hall) and the ability to generate a sufficient level of patronage were both required for the line to be viable.

  1. Cleveland Street – this the major East-West road in Surry Hills and it would not be possible to shift its traffic elsewhere if 2 lanes were used exclusively for trams.
  2. Devonshire Street (surface) – would require some property acquisitions.
  3. Devonshire Street (tunnel) – costs hundreds of millions more than a surface option. Eliminates the possibility of a Surry Hills stop and the possibility for urban renewal. Safety concerns from the depth required.
  4. Foveaux Street/Albion Street – too steep, with almost double the maximum 7% gradient that trams can handle. This is particularly problematic when going downhill as trams may not be able to brake in time.
  5. Campbell Street/Elizabeth Street – requires trams to loop back to Central Station, adding 4 minutes to each trip, which would cut estimated patronage by a third.
  6. Campbell Street – skips Central Station, a key transport interchange, which would cut estimated patronage by a third.
  7. Oxford Street – skips Central Station, a key transport interchange, which would cut estimated patronage by a third. Also requires buses from Bondi Junction to share the street with trams
Routes considered (from top to bottom): Oxford Street (pink), Campbell Street (pink), Campbell Street and Elizabeth Street (orange), Albiono Street and Foveaux Street (blue), Devonshire Street surface (blue), Devonshire Street tunnel (brown dashed), Cleveland Street (green). Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Transport for NSW, hardcopy only)

Routes considered (from North to South): Oxford Street (pink), Campbell Street (pink), Campbell Street and Elizabeth Street (orange), Albion Street and Foveaux Street (blue), Devonshire Street surface (blue), Devonshire Street tunnel (brown dashed), Cleveland Street (green). Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Transport for NSW, hardcopy only)

All options presented challenges. Eliminating those with insufficient patronage and major disruptions to traffic flows leaves only the two Devonshire Street options. The decision to go with the surface options suggests that the desire to spend less on construction was more important than the community anger such a decision would create.

Though the Devonshire Street alignment will not be altered, residents were encouraged to take part in further community consultations which will determine how the project will proceed in areas where flexibility does exist. This would extend to things such as what times constructions would occur, where stops would be located, and how Moore Park is crossed. Ms Berejiklian listed a viaduct or tunnel as potential options for the latter.

The Minister also refused to pass the buck onto Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who chaired the meeting, stating that “for my sins, I take full responsibility” and pointing out that this was a state government project in response to a resident who accused Ms Moore of not taking her share of the blame for the situation. She also assured residents that fares would be set by the government regardless of who the operator was, and that light rail would be included in the Opal smartcard rollout.

Ms Moore concluded the meeting by recounting that Surry Hills residents opposed the construction of the Eastern Distributor over decade ago. Yet community engagement on this project allowed for many benefits, such as reducing most street speed limits to 40km per hour, converting Crown and Bourke Streets to 2 way, as well as the inclusion of parking and landscaping on South Dowling Street. It was things like these which turned Surry Hills into the village that it is today, and suggested that light rail’s urban renewal would be beneficial for the suburb, not detrimental.

  1. Dudley Horscroft says:

    If the Minister is advised:

    “Foveaux Street/Albion Street – too steep, with almost double the maximum 7% gradient that trams can handle. This is particularly problematic when going downhill as trams may not be able to brake in time.” she is being badly advised.

    Trams can handle gradients at least up to 12%, although it is generally preferred to not go more than 10% if possible. New trams operate in Sheffield on a 10% gradient. Go to Dewi Williams’s web site on London Trams and view the Kingsway Subway section – you will find a photo of a London tram descending the 10% gradient at the northern entrance to the subway – this with only 2 out of 4 axles motored. Trams also have electromagnetic track brakes, which gives them better stopping power than a bus.

    Devonshire Street may look good from a “cut the distance to a minimum” standpoint, but apart from the requirement to knock down housing, there is the problem of crossing Moore Park. Somehow I think that there will be trouble there also.

  2. Simon says:

    A 4 minute delay would cut patronage by a third? The delay of using the tram over the bus is likely to be greater.

  3. shiggyshiggy says:

    This has become a kerfuffle of the greatest magnitude. Of course there was no real consultation: no matter where in Surry Hills you put this line, the locals will oppose it. If I was in the government I wouldn’t even have bothered with this meeting. Just wear the fall-out and get on with it. Its not as if the O’Farrell government will lose votes over this (at least not along Devonshire Street). That being said, would a tunnel of that distance REALLY be that expensive?

  4. ash says:

    I think this is a huge kerfuffle as well. If the issue was merely about consultation, or rather the lack of it, then certainly I side with the residents, but I can’t see how these residents will lose out! I just can’t. All I see is a whole load of NIMBYism.(maybe NIMFYism – frontyard instead). Yes sure there will be years of disruption to traffic and loss of parking space, but I really agree with Gladys here that this is the most optimal route.

    Oxford St just doesnt stack up when you see how clogged that artery is with buses coming in from everywhere. I go along there in the mornings and the lack of bike routes on oxford just causes a whole backjam of buses. Yeah there were one-car trams running there half a century ago and its a perfectly designed road for trams. But think how worse it would be with light rail (remember we’ve got bondi buses as well). Any other route would get clogged up in unnecessary loops and traffic lights. 4 minutes wait in peak hour would probably mean 14 or more.

    And to those residents living in the Olivia Gardens Apartments, I think the stone has not been cast. It seems likely that the apartments would be demolished but there is still room to discuss ways to circumvent that and to disagree. But someone on skyscrapercity said this – “Olivia Garden is no loss and any owners will be compensated, and probably do very nicely out of the deal. Wonder if that is the motive behind much of the melodrama of protest, trying to maximise the ‘compensation’?” I have no doubt house prices would increase, not decrease.

    The last part of the post where you mention what Clover said just says it all – we’ve become so dimwitted focusing on the now and sacrificing our future for petty things. Goddamn its as if trams going up Devonshire would spill fuel, pollution or noise onto the heritage buildings (which I really do love). They’re not bloody cars. They are catalysts for urban renewal. Oh I would so love to see those house owners lose their on-street volkswagen golf and mini parking spaces while keeping their ample backstreet garages, then stop complaining and start using the light rail.


  5. Martin says:

    Why has no blame been put at the media’s door step with all this? Yes, there was a plan do something that would affect residents, but rather than letting the government work through the process, the media ‘broke the story’ and now everyone is pissed.

    As for the tunnel option, tell the residents it is doable if they pay for it… put up or shut up.

    And as for a 10% gradient, sure. It can be done in a tram. But why needlessly add risk? I am sure you are going to be first in line to blame someone when a tram goes into a skid and kills someone at the bottom of the hill.

  6. Mia says:

    Ash – Would you like to buy our place and then you can just roll out of bed into a light rail carriage? Sorry, but the volkswagen golf I don’t own and the mini I don’t own do not come with the property. Also, the ample backstreet parking, we don’t have, also does not come with the property. But yes you will be close to transport.

  7. ash says:

    Mia – I apologise for the way I said it. You are right to be at least unhappy with that.

    Sincerely though, I would like to know what your gripe with the light rail proposal is as a resident thanks

  8. ash says:

    Bambul – see this. I also wonder what your thoughts are being present at the briefing and all.

  9. This reminds me of the nearby Bourke St cycleway. Local residents responded angrily to it when announced (as they have to the light rail). But once it was in place they became its biggest supporters, seeing the improvement to mobility and the boost to the value of their property.

    In 10 years I’d be surprised if there was any significant local opposition to the light rail. The people in Olivia Gardens won’t see these benefits, but they’ll be compensated for their property, perhaps at the inflated post light rail property value so that they won’t be the only residents to not benefit from the improved local infrastructure.

    As to the article, most of the concerns raised in it are due to a lack of information about it. I didn’t see anything in there that was actually an obstacle anymore than they are now. Consultation normally happens once a plan is prepared so that residents can be fully informed, to provide feedback so that plan can be improved. The current plan is not complete, it’s got the broad route, but not the specific details at the street level. That was mentioned at the forum, where the Transport Department bureaucrat said he couldn’t give specifics at this stage, but would later in the year. So I don’t buy the no consultation line, because consultation is meant to happen when it can create a conversation, not when there is no specifics known.

  10. Mia says:

    Ash – in response to your question. I would think the statement “roll out of bed into a light rail carriage” might give you a clue. Reading your comments and others have made me very angry and upset.

    To everyone who seems to think that the residents of Devonshire Street are NIMBY’s I would like you to ask yourself, how would you feel if you woke up one morning to find out that where you live was either going to be destroyed or your everyday life as you know it is going to be changed forever. This is not a short term thing for residents but long term, VERY long term. When we bought our house there was no planned “light rail” for the street. If there was we would never have bought the property and now this has been thrown at us. Personally, we obviously were aware of noise from people, cars etc and accepted this as part of inner city living. We have worked hard our entire lives to be able to afford a house in an area we love and we continue to work hard. We are by no means “yuppie”, café going, wealthy people as everyone seems to think and are happy to make this assumption of everyone in Devonshire Street.

    There are a lot of elderly people in our street (who have lived in the street for many years), and just everyday people – all of whom at some stage may need emergency services. Devonshire Street is a massive safety hazard. Melbourne has issues with emergency vehicles not being able to get to people in time due to trams, and they have massive roads compared to our 7.5-8.8 metre road. People have died.

    Not everyone in the street has off-street parking (as people seem to think) or rear lane access. There is the question of how do we move house if we want to or even get an every day delivery. From what I can see with the “plans” this is even going to be a difficult thing to do. The Minister said the other night that we would not be locked into our houses and that things like removalist trucks would be able to access the street. She has obviously never walked down the street to see what a narrow street it is. People seem to forget that Devonshire Street is a “NARROW RESIDENTIAL STREET” (it is not a four lane highway).

    These are trams; 50% bigger than the light rail in Haymarket – there is a big difference. These are the A380 of trams and will make lots of noise.

    Houses are going to be just metres from these trains, i.e. living rooms and bedrooms. How would you like to hear “ding ding” every two minutes, or more frequently, most of the day??? The houses in the street are old (historical) and not very well insulated. From our living room I can relay to you conversations I hear outside each day/evening. The sound of cars going over tracks is noisy too. Everyone across Surry Hills will hear these frequently.

    I am sick and tired of people telling us to basically suck it up and people need to suffer for progress. You will suffer too.

    There is no proof that these 45m trams stopping traffic across Elizabeth Street, Riley Street, Anzac Pde, South Dowling, Bourke, Crown, Chalmers streets will not create gridlock for cars. Many cars now use Devonshire Street to avoid Cleveland Street – where do they go to if the rail is constructed?? If transport does not take you where you want to go and more for the inconvenience – you won’t use it.

    So before our lives are ruined, our investment and nest egg destroyed, we have the right to ask the Government to do the research and prove to us that this will work. These are our lives – show some respect. We are only asking that the proper process be taken, for the interest of all of Sydney.

    We were not advised any of this was going to happen. Apparently businesses in the CBD were consulted about the George Street project, but NO-ONE in Devonshire Street, residents or businesses, were ever told about the project until they read it in the paper last December (Merry Christmas). How come we weren’t afforded the same courtesy by the Government????????

    Of course we are upset with the plans without proper feasibility studies – wouldn’t you be!!!

  11. alister says:

    Oxford Street is a wide, busy road and seems to be the most logical route. I really don’t understand Minister Berejiklian’s argument that the trams can’t go to Central Station if the route goes via Oxford St. Why not? Once the trams hit the end of Oxford St, they can simply turn left for Central or right for Circular Quay, forming a circular route between Randwick, Central and Circular Quay. Surely this would result in faster trips from Randwick to the CBD since it would skip the Central Station detour. I’d imagine it would also be cheaper as it would not require a tunnel or aqueduct to cross Moore Park. As well, running the tram along Oxford St would also leave open the possibility of a future extension to Bondi Beach.

  12. alister says:

    Of course I meant viaduct, not aqueduct!

  13. moonetau says:

    If the light rail went up Devonshire Street and down Cleveland Street would that be a workable compromise? ie one track in the centre of the road going up Devonshire St and on Cleveland Street on one of the left lanes, so that car traffic in the opposite direction is not obstructed (and then into Elizabeth St again in one of the left lanes)?
    As most of Devonshire St is only 9-10m wide this would still allow for some parking even if the right of way for the tram is 3m wide. Just checked that an Alstom Dualis is 2.4m wide.
    I imagine that cars will still be able to use Devonshire St.
    Just a thought

  14. Smith John says:

    A Foveaux St route is preferable if at all possible –
    – More direct route
    – wider street
    – More industrial environment, so less community impact
    – Less impact on Moore Park
    – Potential to extend to Bondi Junction via Moore Park Rd in future

    Only a short section of Foveaux St between Waterloo and Riley is steep. The grade could be eased by a SHORT cut and cover tunnel of about 250m from Waterloo to just east of Crown. The street is wide enough to maintain access to the portions beside the portals.

    Concerning suggestions that the line should go via Oxford St, with a branch to Central: this is not a good idea because it would need twice as much service to give the same frequency to everyone. It would need paired routes to Circular Quay and Central Railway similar to the present paired bus routes from La Perouse and other places to Oxford St/CQ and Cleveland St/ Railway Square..

    These paired routes are very inefficient because either you have more frequency than needed over most of the route, in order to provide reasonable frequency to CQ AND Railway Square; alternatively, you provide reasonable frequency over most of the route – but then the frequency is halved where the routes split at Cleveland St.

    It’s very important to avoid that sort of inefficiency. Running one route via Central allows one vehicle to serve everyone and that allows you to run more frequent service within a given budget.

  15. Interesting suggestion on the Foveaux Street descent, Smith John. Foveaux Street does have a hill in the middle, so a short tunnel would produce a gradient that is a less steep overall. However, Albion is a steady gradient the whole way, and the consistency means you can’t use a short tunnel there to smooth out the climb. Seeing as you need both streets, one for each direction, doesn’t this (if you’ll excuse my pun) still pose a bit of an engineering roadblock?

  16. Jonathan says:

    Would it be possible to have both tracks on Foveaux and to perhaps make Albion 2 way if necessary?

  17. Smith John says:

    I’m suggesting Foveaux, NOT Foveaux and Albion. Foveaux is plenty wide enough for a two track tramway plus two way traffic for local access only.(which could probably share the tram track space providing right turns were controlled)

    Albion can be made two way to replace Foveaux for westbound through traffic. And yes, that would mean less through traffic capacity altogether, and that is probably a good thing. In areas like this we should be planning for acess and permeability, not traffic sewers. For through traffic there is also Cleveland and Campbell.

    A back of the envelope calculation suggests to me that the suggested short tunnel could bring the Foveaux St gradient below the supposedly critical 7%. Incidentally , Sydney’s original tramways had a number of sections of 1:12 gradient – 8.3%.

  18. alister says:

    Smith John, regarding the frequency of one route versus two, this is a valid point. I guess further modelling would need to be done to see if the projected patronage would still allow for frequent services.

    However, running the tram along Foveaux St because it’s a more industrial environment with less community impact doesn’t really resonate with me. The great thing about trams over trains is that they run along the street so you can easily hop on and off, and they often can take you very close to your destination. In my opinion, they should run them along main roads through busy areas as much as possible. For example, I really don’t like the fact that in Ultimo the line runs along an old, disused subterranean train line. Imagine if it ran down Harris St past UTS and the Powerhouse Museum – it would be a lot more convenient, a lot more visible and hopefully reduce traffic, making Harris St a nicer place. Running trams through industrial areas and underground tunnels does reduce community impact, but this is only a problem if you believe that the community impact of trams is negative.

  19. Dudley Horscroft says:

    Since writing my original comment, I have revised my opinion somewhat. From the City of Sydney Maps of 1947, Foveaux has a maximum downgrade between Little Riley St and Corben St of about 17%, which would make it the world’s steepest tramway. However, this is only for a very short distance. From a point at Waterloo St to the west building line at Riley St the average gradient would be no more that 12.4% – which gradient is about the maximum in Pittsburgh. Re a runaway, trams have several braking systems, regenerative/rheostatic, disc brakes and track brakes, the latter being far better than the single braking system on buses. A tram stopped on Riley St and then running away would be doing no more than 57 km/h as it passed Waterloo St – assuming that none of the braking systems worked! Foveaux St would be plausible. Even more plausible if there were a short single track subway (average 9.8% from Norton St to Waterloo St, though the entry ramp would have to be steeper than 10% to get under Riley St, leading to the rest being much less steep.

    Albion has very short lengths of 17% and 14%, but as the latter is a ‘cross-fall’ across Riley St this is a bit doubtful. The average gradient from 115 ft to 145 ft, containing these steep sections, is almost exactly 10%, so could be feasible if the gradient were smoothed somewhat. This I think disposes of the DDG’s argument (4).

    As for his others, (1) in Cleveland St through Moore Park there are 5 lanes, one of which is a bus lane. A median strip segregated lane for inbound trams could be used, with outbound trams sharing with other traffic. (2) Devonshire St would not require property acquisition if a link were made to Cleveland St via Bourke St or Crown St (ex-tram route). Points (3), (5) and (6) I agree with him, the tunnel is too expensive, the others are too roundabout. This leaves (7).

    The problem is that there are three streams of traffic to consider. (A) Students to and from UNSW and Central (bus 891), (B) passengers from Coogee and Kingsford to George St, and (C) passengers from Parramatta Road to Elizabeth St. Devonshire St is ideal for group (A). Oxford St is ideal for group (B) (there aren’t that many Bondi buses to worry about!), while group (C) don’t mind as long as there is a reasonably empty tram available when their buses get to Eddy Avenue (the only reasonable place for an interchange).

    That meeting was no more than a first consideration. The official “consultation” will come a bit later when the details have been worked out a bit better. The only problem is TfNSW digging itself into a hole and taking the Minister with them, becoming unmovable with a bad decision. And for the benefit of Mia, it is possible that Devonshire St may become one way eastbound for cars, which will automatically halve the car traffic in your street!

  20. MrV says:

    Tell the NIMBYS to take a hike.
    The govt should say, the choice is yours either a tram, or alternatively we can run 40 buses an hour down your street.

    Tunnel options are a furphy, spending hundreds of millions of additional dollars of money that could be used to extend the line (and hence pt services) to other areas.. Trams are designed for street level operation, otherwise build a metro line.

  21. Brendan says:

    It looks like the plan is for the tram to share the road with cars and pedestrians along Devonshire Street and much of Anzac Parade and also have to wait at a number of traffic lights along the route. This is a terrible idea and slows the tram journey between Kingsford to the City to over 24 minutes – LONGER than the current journey time by bus. The government really needs to consider ways to separate the tram from traffic because at present it’s going to be a disaster for anyone commuting from the south-eastern suburbs.

  22. Dudley Horscroft says:

    Re Brendan’s Comment. The buses already share the road with pedestrians and cars, and wait at traffic lights along the way. There is no reason why the trams would be slower than the existing bus services.

    The proposal, from wherever the new tram route reaches Anzac Parade is that the trams will run on the old tram reserve at the edge of the Parklands, then in a median strip in Anzac Parade to Kingsford. As the trams are larger than the buses they will replace, they will be farther apart, and thus, provided some heads can be kicked at RMS, will be able to enjoy traffic light priority at all signalled intersections. Plus there should be a flyover at the Anzac Parade/Alison Street Junction to keep totally clear of the other traffic there. On the western section of the route the trams will just about be running clear of all other traffic. One important point, where the trams pass UNSW, the latest artists’ impressions show that the tracks will move to the east side of Anzac Parade for a short distance so as to provide direct access from trams to University without students having to cross traffic lanes to get to the tram stops.

    Down the other leg of the route, not only will the existing busway be re-converted to tram, but also the section of tram reservation not used for the busway will be restored to tram use. Only the short section of Alison Road from Darley Road to Wansey Road, in Wansey Road and High Street to the terminus at POWH will be in mixed traffic.

    Tramway experts are at a loss to understand how TfNSW gets its timings for the CSELR routes so exaggerated.

    Perhaps people are confused with the differences in timing between the local buses – which the trams will replace, and the express buses, which have a few limited stops a long way apart. It is possible that the trams could equal in speed the express buses, and hence replace them, but at first only the local buses would be replaced. It is presumed the express buses from La Perouse and Maroubra would be retained to run direct to the CBD as they do now, at least until the trams have proved themselves as fast or faster.

  23. Simon says:

    I think you should tell your comments about trams shouldn’t be slow to someone from Melbourne.

  24. Brendan says:

    @Simon: My experience with Melbourne trams is that they rarely have their own reservation outside of the CBD on most suburban routes. They have to wait at traffic lights, and worse, cars are allowed to drive in the tram lane, holding up the tram.

    @Dudley: I am basing my bus travel times on all-stop buses: the 376 from Randwick currently takes 16 minutes to reach Central and the 393/395 buses from Kingsford takes 20 minutes to reach Central. The express buses normally run 2 to 4 minutes quicker than this.

    In regards to running in a reservation, after the Alison Rd intersection the tram will only be able to run in a reservation for about 400 metres on Anzac Parade. This is because the northern section of Anzac after Alison Rd has either no median strip or a very narrow one, with the wide median strip commencing just before Todman Ave but ending abruptly about 400 metres later, well before the road reaches UNSW. After the proposed terminus at Kingsford there is indeed a wide median strip all the way down to La Perouse, but the tram is not going to be extended far enough to make use of this. On the Randwick branch the tram will be able to run in a reservation for about 700 metres alongside Alison Rd, but after this point it will have to run on the road.

    As to how TfNSW gets their “exaggerated” journey times, here’s some of my theories:

    1. Devonshire Street. The street is too narrow to support a completely separated tramway because doing so would prohibit vehicle access to properties along the street. As such cars would be allowed to drive in the tram lane and this would slow down tram speeds significantly. Trams would be forced to run slowly down Devonshire in order to appease the noise/safety concerns of local residents.

    2. Anzac Parade. Trams can get a good run from the end of Devonshire Street, through Moore Park and then in a reservation next to Anzac Pde up until the Alison Rd branch. But after the Alison Rd branch there would be considerable road running and the government has not indicated if cars will be allowed onto the tram part of the road (Melbourne style) or not. Furthermore, additional traffic light controlled intersections will need to be installed along Anzac Pde to prevent tram/car collisions and it is not guaranteed that the tram will receive full traffic light priority.

    3. After the former tram reservation along Alison Road ends many of the same issues will apply however they will be likely be less serious due to the relatively lower congestion on these roads.

  25. Dudley Horscroft says:

    @ Brendan. Thanks for your considered response. Suggest you check Google maps. From the Alison Road junction, in Anzac Parade there are continuous bus lanes along each side of the road. This means that in the peak hour, when there are most cars on the road, out of the three lanes in the peak direction there are only two lanes usable for cars and other traffic. Hence it will be reasonable, and feasible, to return the bus lanes to general traffic while the trams occupy a new median strip. The width of any existing median strip does not matter. There will still be two lanes available for general traffic at all times in both directions as at present. No problem.

    Down Alison Road there is the old tram reservation for about 900 m, as far as Darley Road.

    Re speeds, the centre section of Devonshire Road is already subject to a 40 km/h speed limit, with 50 for the wider sections at each end. This is a good reason for not using Devonshire Road. Unless there is a tunnel across Moore Park, I would suspect that this section would also be subject to reduced speed limits.

    Devonshire Road (centre section) is only suitable for three lanes of traffic. This means that if the trams keep left, as is normal, then there will only be room for a single eastbound lane for general traffic. I would prefer that in this section, if it be used, the trams should keep right. This would mean that against the northern kerb there would be an eastbound lane for general traffic, then a westbound lane for general traffic and trams, then against the southern kerb there would be a lane for eastbound trams. This would require a considerable amount of thought in RMS and TfNSW to be able to understand, but this situation occurred on some old single line and loop tram routes, where the single line was on reservation, but the loops entered the normal road space. To prevent trouble, the trams kept right, so that when they entered the normal road space they were going in the same direction as other traffic. Crossings at each end to get to the correct direction occur on one tram route in Stockholm, where the normal left hand running was retained on reserved track when the rule of the road was changed, but the on-street section became right hand running.

    I suspect that they are also thinking of very slow running on the pedestrianized section of George St.

    There should be no additional intersections governed by traffic lights, if they are not needed with the large number of buses operating, they will not be needed with the fewer number of trams.

    As the trams can accelerate better than buses, and brake more smoothly, they should be able to reach better average speeds when on the move; as they should have many more doors per unit length than buses they should be able to load and alight passengers faster reducing dwell times. All in all the trams should be faster than the general route local buses.

  26. Simon says:

    Trams cannot run limited stop routes. That is one reason why they would be slow. Unless the tram is the limited stop route and it is supplemented by buses. So say goodbye to the relatively quick 891.

    I don’t understand why you would even consider running the tram down the inner lanes of the road. What happens at stops? Even if protected stops are provided it’s still more of a pain for travellers than it needs to be. Just allow left turners into the tram lane 100m or whatever before the turn, as happens with bus lanes.

    Regarding trams not having their own reservation in Melbourne, that is not a problem with trams per se. You can have a bus lane or omit it, similarly to having a tram right of way or not having it.

  27. Brendan says:

    The thing is that because “light rail” is such a vague term you can end up with systems that have metro-like performance (like Boston’s) and those that are more on par with buses (like San Francisco’s). The point of spending $1.6 billion is to deliver a considerable improvement over our current bus system, and for this to happen the tram has to be able to operate in a traffic-free environment for most of its route.

    If what Dudley says is correct and the tram will be running in a completely separated median on Anzac Parade by giving two traffic lanes to the trams (and hopefully fencing this off from cars) we might have a chance of achieving high speeds down the Anzac Parade branch. One issue is that while we can easily give two lanes to the trams by removing two traffic lanes in the centre of the road but giving bus lanes/parking lanes back to traffic, at tram stops even more space will be required to construct a platform. The best solution would be to only locate tram stops where there’s an existing wide median to use (e.g: near Todman Ave) or where the road can be easily widened (e.g: in front of UNSW by using some of the university’s land) to accommodate the platforms. The last thing we want is for the government to compromise and let cars use the tram lanes on Anzac Parade – the tram line on this road needs a high speed fenced off corridor to work efficiently.

    As for Devonshire, I have the same observation as Dudley: on some parts of the street there is only enough space for two tram lines and one traffic lane (and no parking). This is going to cause problems for property access on one side of the road unless traffic is permitted to drive on the tracks which would be disastrous in terms of achieving a consistent and speedy service.

    However when you look further into the Devonshire St problem it isn;t as bad as I had first imagined:

    * The eastern section of the street between Bourke St and Crown St is wide up enough for trams + two lanes of traffic
    * The section between Crown and Ward Park is narrow but the properties on the southern side don’t need car access to Devonshire because they have rear and side road access.
    * The section between Ward Park and Cisdell Street is a Department of Housing complex that isn’t accessed from Devonshire.
    * Between Cisdell and Elizabeth all properties on the southern side have rear road access.
    * Between Elizabeth and Chalmers a few properties do not have rear or side road access however all properties are commercial (reducing NIMBY’ism) and the pavement on the
    southern side is wider than usual and could be reduced to widen the road.

    This would mean that it’s pretty much feasible to run two tram tracks along the southern end of Devonshire while retaining road access to most of the properties and giving complete priority to trams. The only thing that will hinder the government in achieving this is the vehement resistance of Surry Hills residents.

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