How might the CBD and SE Light Rail work?

Posted: October 9, 2013 in Transport
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The Environmental Impact Study for the CBD and South East Light Rail is due to be completed by the end of this year, finalising the project before construction begins. Enough details have been released about the project that a fairly complete picture can be drawn of what it will look like and how it will operate.


Trams will operate along an overhead wire free zone starting from where the pedestrianised zone beings at Bathurst St and continues all the way to Circular Quay. Along this portion of the alignment trams will be powered by onboard batteries which are recharged with overhead wires at each stop. Overseas experience suggests batteries could allow for up to 2km of travel at a time before recharging (Source: George Street Concept Design, 2013, City of Sydney, p. 27). This will also allow limited operation should there be a short term power outage, but will also prevent trams on the Inner West Line from operating on George St (though these trams would still be able to travel to Kingsford and Randwick). This move is supported by the City of Sydney on the basis that “it will ensure that…space is preserved for pedestrians [and respect]…the streetscape of George Street and its heritage buildings”; but opposed by advocacy group Action for Public Transport, commenting that “this system would add unacceptably to initial and running costs, would detract from reliability, and would probably not supply enough power for the air-conditioning”.

Artists impression of Circular Quay with trams. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

Artists impression of Circular Quay with trams. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)


The trams on the CSELR will also be longer than the Inner West ones, being 45m long compared to the current 30m long trams, which have a capacity of 300 passengers and 200 passengers respectively. These longer trams mean that the 45m CSELR trams will not be able to operate on the Inner West line at all.

The net effect is an effective segregation of the two lines, forcing them to operate independently.

Tram stops at Central Station (Chalmers St) and Moore Park will be double the regular length, allowing 2 trams to load an unload simultaneously, with turnback sidings allowing shuttle services from Central to the Moore Park sports stadiums to provide a high capacity transport connection for special events like double headers. The Central Station and Circular Quay stops will also have a third platform.  Meanwhile, the UNSW stop (probably the busiest stop outside of the CBD and special events) will be on UNSW property itself, preventing the need for students and university staff to cross the road unless they need to reach the smaller Western campus end of UNSW.

Rawson Place will be closed off to cars and turned into a bus and tram interchange. Buses leaving the CBD will pass through Rawson Place itself, allowing a cross platform transfer, while inbound buses will stop on the Western side of Pitt Street, from which the tram stop will be a short walk away. This avoids the need to cross the road in order to transfer from bus to tram or vice versa.

The Rawson Place tram stop will serve as a bus-tram interchange. Transfers can be made here without having to cross any street. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

The Rawson Place tram stop will serve as a bus-tram interchange. Transfers can be made here without having to cross any street. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

Outside of the CBD

The route across South Dowling Street, Moore Park, and Anzac Parade has yet to be determined, with a cut and cover tunnel or viaduct being the two options. The advantages of a tunnel are the lower visual impact and maintaining full use of Moore Park. The advantages of a viaduct are a shorter construction time and grade separation over South Dowling Street. The government has a preference for the tunnel option, but has also taken feedback from the public on the two options before making a final decision.

The two options for crossing South Dowling Street are a cut and cover tunnel (top) or a viaduct (bottom). Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

The two options for crossing South Dowling Street are a cut and cover tunnel (top) or a viaduct (bottom). Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)


Upgrading the Anzac Parade corridor will increase the passenger capacity in each direction from the current 10,000 passengers/hour to 15,000 passengers/hour. It does this by replacing some buses (the equivalent of 4,000 passengers/hour with trams that carry 9,000 passengers/hour), which will now not continue past Kingsford and Randwick. They will instead be rerouted as orbital routes that do not reach the city, and instead continue towards destination like Bondi Junction or Green Square. Anyone continuing into the CBD will get off their bus and onto a tram, either by crossing the platform at Kingsford or walking across High Cross Park at Randwick.

The Kingsford interchange (left) includes a bus stop in-between the outer tram stops, allowing a cross platform transfer from bus to tram or vice versa. The Randwick interchange (right) includes a tram stop on an existing park, with bus stops on either side of the park, allowing for bus-tram transfers without having to cross the street. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

The Kingsford interchange (left) includes a bus stop in-between the outer tram stops, allowing a cross platform transfer from bus to tram or vice versa. The Randwick interchange (right) includes a tram stop on an existing park, with bus stops on either side of the park, allowing for bus-tram transfers without having to cross the street. Click to enlarge. (Sources: Left – Transport for NSW, Right – Transport for NSW)

Buses and fares

Some buses will be kept on. In particular, preliminary details of the bus redesign suggest that all peak hour express buses that travel via the Eastern Distributor will be maintained, largely as they service the Northern end of the CBD rather than the Southern end. In addition, at least one bus lane will be retained on the existing Anzac Parade busway. Some buses that travel via Cleveland and Oxford Streets will also be retained as these corridors are not served by light rail.

One lane will be retained for use by buses on the existing Anzac Parade busway. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

One lane will be retained for use by buses on the existing Anzac Parade busway. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

Transport Sydney understands that fares for light rail will be calculated as though they are buses, meaning that there should not be a fare penalty for passengers changing from bus to tram or vice versa. This would prevent current bus users from having to pay more once light rail begins operating and many passengers are forced to make a transfer from bus to tram.

Development and the construction period

The improvement in transport infrastructure will be followed by higher housing densities, with the NSW Government designating Randwick (and Anzac Parade South, to which the light rail line could easily be extended into) for increased dwelling construction, including 30,000 new dwellings for Kingsford. This issue was prominent enough for the newly elected local MP to campaign about it at the recent September federal election.

The years of construction are also likely to see significant strain on the existing transport network, with George Street closed down and bus lanes removed long before trams begin operating. With construction set to take 4 to 5 years, it could prove to be a protracted period of pain. The government is set to announce a revised bus network for this construction period by the end of the year, around the same time it released the Environmental Impact Study. It then has until the end of the decade to come up with a second bus network redesign for when the light rail finally comes online.

  1. Frosty says:

    Great Post I think terminating buses at Green Square is better than Bondi Junction since Green Square only has 3 bus services that pass it will help with the developments

  2. Ray says:

    Having recently been in Nice on the French Riviera, where the new light rail line runs through the centre of the city along what would be equivalent to George St through Sydney’s CBD, I fail to see what the problem would be with having a wire free zone through the pedestrianised sector from Bathurst St through to Circular Quay, although I think it would be more appropriate to limit the wire free zone to between Bathurst St and Hunter St.

    In Nice, the main thoroughfare is totally pedestrianised, allowing cross traffic but with the main square over a short distance being wire free. It seems to work quite well.

  3. JC says:

    Ray: Sounds promising – but I must admit I am a bit sceptical about wireless trams. I’m not sure the George St streetscape is that lovely that it couldn’t stand some wires – and there would be real advantages in cost and (especially) reliability.

    I am not conviced that wireless is sufficiently proven (but Nice and others may prove me wrong), and the lost advantages of inter-working with the inner west lines are not trivial. I can’t help thinking about Edinburgh, where everything had to be new and gorgeous and bespoke – and ultimately turned out to be expensive, delayed and cut back (and still not open).

    Also I suppose it is too late to revisit the Moore Park to Randwick bit – surely the same amount of track from Kingsford to Maroubra J; or from Central to Sydney U via the Broadway apartment extravaganza would be better value…

  4. Simon says:

    JC, that would prevent one of the main justifications of the line – to serve UNSW, High St near gate 9.

  5. ash says:

    Ray makes an interesting point though. I used to go to UNSW so I know the immense pain it is to walk up campus. Oh its terrible… So obviously I am biased to say that there needs to be a stop near gate 9. But if you actually extend the line down Broadway instead, via a T-junction on the line on George street, then you would be able to serve 3 universities and not just 1. How much better would that be! And hey that would be so much better than taking the reliable 370 service that currently serves this purpose. Then again, I wonder what the size of this clientele is – those people who would need to travel from university to university.

    Another good point about that would be that you also start the groundwork on a Paramatta Road light rail line.

    On another note, I was told that the Gate 9 stop would be grade separated, or at least that the pedestrian access from/to the stop from/to the university would not have to cross High st at grade. It would either be an overpass (extending from the Library Lawn) or underpass. This does not seem to be the case. It appears to be a road crossing at grade.

    And finally, any words from PUSH or the Olivia Gardens residents? heh

  6. JC says:

    Ash: Thanks. Good point – I didn’t realise students were so soft – OMG walking 500m or so would surely have serious consequences on their playlists. Having 2 stations on UNSW campus but none on Sydney U is a good summary of the problem.

    As you say, a Broadway line would serve 2 universities and broadway apartments, make a start on the P road line – and in the meantime City Road and Parramatta Road buses could combine to feed the line and improve links between inner west and inner south and take even more buses out of the CBD.

  7. ash says:

    Haha you do know I was being sarcastic right. LOL but its true we whinge a lot about the terrain. You might recall the monorail purchase spoof for UNSW’s Foundation Day. I clearly remember suggesting it well before that came out as a media story… but HEY.

    Seriously though! There’s still time to suggest that. It would not be too hard to AT LEAST put in a place a rail T-junction on George Street / Rawson Place as a contingency. After all, the line already forks on Anzac Parade / Alison Road. Why would this not be feasible?

  8. Ray says:

    I agree with you ash, it would be logical to allow for a future extension of the CBD Light Rail Network from Rawson Place along Broadway and Parramatta Rd to the inner west. The cost of providing for a future extension at Rawson Place would be immaterial (a set of points).

    I also agree that the Randwick option is essential as it services the Prince of Wales Hospital as well as the upper UNSW’s campus. There is also the potential to extend the line to Coogee Beach along the former tram corridor (although part of which is now occupied by the Coogee Primary School).

    The future extension from Kingsford is also a long term option as it would be entirely within the former separate tramway reservation as far as La Perouse which still exists to this day except for a short section through the Maroubra Junction Town Centre which is allocated to parking. I suggest that this would be a far more cost effective solution than building a metro line which would be prohibitively more expensive.

  9. Ray Laverack says:

    Just to add to my previous post, I fail to understand what is the objection to having a wire free zone through the Central Sydney Civic Precinct. As I stated earlier, my experience with the Nice light rail wire free zone through the city’s main square, although it is only over a short distance, seems to work quite well. I am not aware of any reliability problems with battery operation, but perhaps those more well informed could correct me on this. It is not exactly rocket science, so I can’t see how any operational problems couldn’t be addressed.

    In any event, I don’t see the need for a wire free zone all the way from Bathurst St to Circular Quay. At best, it should only be from Bathurst St to Market St past the Sydney Town Hall and the Queen Victoria Building. The second best option would be throughout the pedestrinised zone between Bathurst St and Hunter St.

    Now that the State Government has today committed to replacing the whole light rail rolling stock on the current inner west corridor, there is no reason why the new rolling stock couldn’t be partly battery operated to allow for interchange between the inner west corridor and the new South East/CBD corridor.

  10. Ray – I’ve been advised that one of the reasons for wire free operation was the difficulty of putting in poles in certain parts of the city, due to the density of utility services underground. As wire free operation was already being considered for aesthetic reasons, it became an easy option for operational and cost reasons. Once it was decided to have wire free operation in the pedestrianised zone, it was decided to extend it all the way to Circular Quay, since it is such a short distance.

  11. Ray Laverack says:

    Thanks Bambul. I don’t have any real objection to extending the wire free zone to Circular Quay so long as it is feasible. It is to be hoped that the new light rail rolling stock for the Inner West line will be compatible with the South East Line so that Inner West services can also operate to Circular Quay.

  12. Dudley Horscroft says:

    There are several problems with the proposal as so far made public, but first I take up the point about battery operation. Batteries are heavy, costly and need frequent replacement. The additional mass puts up the cost in energy (and money!) of accelerating and braking the trams, though some of the latter may be recouped with regenerative braking. They are also not particularly efficient in energy in/out terms. Better would be to use supercapacitors – just as heavy and costly but so far it appears that they would have a very long life – probably as long as the tram’s, and are efficient in terms of energy in and out. (Siemens Sitra HES uses a combination, super caps for high power demands for acceleration and braking, batteries for low power use at near constant speeds.)

    There should be no problem with overhead wires – these are desirable on historic and environmental grounds; when one restores the tram tracks one should restore the overhead wires used to power them.

    If it is considered that for some odd reason overhead wires cannot be used, then the reasonable options are to go for either the French APS – effectively a third rail in the street with electronic devices to ensure the rail is only live when under a tram, or to use some version of conduit, either London style or modern conduit. London style deep conduit would be about as expensive as the French APS, while modern conduit should be far cheaper.

    BTW I have heard rumours that Nice may abandon the battery operation. There are two sections on battery power, 440 and 470 m. The batteries for the original fleet of 20 trams cost 2M Euros ( with an estimated life of 5 years. For comparison the Siemens Sitra HES system combining battery and supercapacitor uses 2 x 820 kg modules – a heavy mass to carry around.

    The proposed Moore Park tram stop is not satisfactory for either set of customers, the two major schools or the Cricket/Show Grounds.area. Far better would be, assuming the Devonshire St route is a given, to cross S Dowling St and the Eastern Distributor as proposed, then turn south close to the edge of Moore Park, and enter Cleveland St adjacent to Sydney Boys. As Cleveland St has a bus lane there, this could be returned to general use while the westbound trams run in reserved track and the eastbound trams use the general traffic lane. This would at least give good access to the existing schools, and would obviate the need for buses to continue operation in Cleveland St. The object should be to rid the entire area of bus operations.

    The proposal to use medium length 45 m double ended trams needs to be revisited. They will not be able to provide sufficient seating space unless always operated in multiple unit pairs, and single ended trams can provide 33 1/3 % more seating for the same vehicle. Better to look at 60 m trams which would be closer to the mark. It is not reasonable to shift from buses with a high ratio of seats to total, to trams with a low ratio of seats to total capacity, even if the ride is so much better in the trams.

  13. Ray says:

    Dudley, I don’t have the knowledge that you obviously have with regard to the alternative strategies for wire free operation, but it seems to me as a layman, wire free operation through sensitive civic precincts, such as Sydney Town Hall and the Queen Victoria Building, should not be dismissed out of hand. If any of the alternative technologies which you suggest are feasible, then I have no objection to that. In the case of NIce considering alternatives to battery operation, which is through the main square and also presumably through the harbour zone, I can’t believe that they would introduce wires through these precincts. It would destroy their ambience, just as it would in Sydney. I don’t subscribe to your view that having wires would be desirable on historic and environmental grounds, which is complete nonsense. If the technology is available, in whatever form, to protect the visual impact on historic civic precincts, then why not use it?

  14. shiggyshiggy says:

    Um, didn’t this “historic precinct” used to have trams/tram wires? In fact, the buildings you mention Ray were built while Sydney had a large and growing tram network that utilised overhead wires.

    In a way reinstating tram wires down George Street is an act of historical reconstruction!

    If it turns out the batteries are crap and hard to maintain, how hard/expensive will it be to put up wires?

  15. Ray says:

    Yes, you are correct, that in historical terms, wires were an accepted as a part of the landscape, but this is the 21st century and community values have changed. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any problem with wires per se (I do after all have a model railway with overhead catenary as a feature), but I do think that in certain areas where there is an alternative option available which would preserve the contemporary value of an unobstructed landscape, then it should be pursued.

  16. JC says:

    I think there is a bit of culture wars here…. Some feel that a tram is not a proper tram without overhead wires and/or looking exactly like what they have in Germany (including being single-ended).

    The logic goes that the best way to get light rail happening soon and without paying over the odds is to go as off-the-shelf as possible – dozens of cities in Europe have and large and efficvient systems and we should if Prague and Munich and Vienna and Rome aren’t precious about streetscape impacts of wires, why should we!

    On the other hand if the thing that people dislike about trams is the wires, and we are starting from (nearly) scratch, let’s get it right from the start and minimise the target for the Greiners.

    I don’t think I know the answer. But hark back to my Edinburgh example, the pollies wanted premium (but untested) system, but ended up spending billions and nearly having none at all. At best it is will be 10 years late and half the size of the original.

  17. Alex says:

    Interesting article. I hadn’t thought that the most obvious implication of the non-wired section is of course that the Inner West trams – both those currently in operation and I assume the CAF trams on order (which will now totally replace the current rolling stock) – won’t be able to use this section.

    I’m not so sure about the other way, though. Although 45m is longer than the new CAF trams (, the CBD and South East Light Rail State Significant Infrastructure Application Supporting Document mentions several times that the project includes “integration with the existing light rail system” and, more specifically, “facilities in Randwick and at Rozelle for light rail vehicle stabling and/or maintenance (including washdown)” –

    I don’t know if that just means that the stabling facilities at Rozelle are included in the CBD and SE LR because they happen to be being developed at the same time, or if the intention is for the CBD/SE vehicles to be able to travel over the Inner West tracks only for servicing and stabling purposes or if some form of integrated service is contemplated.

    The fact that the these vehicles may be longer than the current Inner West platforms is an inconvenience though not necessarily a show-stopper – heavy rail services, especially inter-city ones like those on the Blue Mountains line, have dealt with short platforms for years.

    It seems a shame though that if a wire-free service is contemplated in George Street that the trams being ordered for the Inner West line appear not to have any provision for batteries. Running some of these through the CBD would obviously provide an improved service for Inner West passengers as well as improving frequencies on the CBD section of the new line.

  18. Alex says:

    A stop press to my post re the Rozelle stabling: the Community Information for the CBD and SE Light rail ( states the following:

    Shared light rail maintenance and stabling facility at Rozelle

    Transport for NSW is planning for a light rail maintenance and stabling depot in Rozelle. The facility will be contained within a cutting and largely hidden from view. The depot will provide maintenance facilities for the entire CSELR and IWLR extension fleet and stable up to four IWLR vehicles. Maintenance activities include cleaning, component repair and underframe inspections of the light rail vehicles. The maintenance and stabling depot is proposed to be a 24 hour facility with an
    estimated four light rail vehicle movements per day into and out of the depot. The maintenance for the existing Pyrmont and Inner West Light Rail fleet would continue to occur at the existing Pyrmont depot located near the Sydney Convention Centre.

    Also page 2 of the associated document dealing with the Circular Quay to Central section ( shows an interchange on page 2 with the following caption: New junction to connect existing and proposed light rail networks. Intriguing.

  19. Dudley Horscroft says:

    It should not be beyond the bounds of possibility for the new CAF cars to incorporate provision for either the APS or a Modern Conduit System (MCS), even both. The APS uses power operated retractable shoes to contact the third rail – witnessed by grooves cut into the roadway in Bordeaux where drivers have forgotten to retract the shoes when exiting the APS section, and finding that the tram has ground (literally) to a halt! Similarly MCS could use power operated retractable ploughs.

    Even if the CAF cars were built without the necessary underfloor arrangements, one could even consider (tongue in cheek!) the arrangement used in one of the Berlin conduit systems where the trams towed the plough. Presumably this was connected and plugged in by hand! Those who are old enough will remember the dummy used on the counterweight section of the Balmain-Darling Street Wharf line. A similar system could be used in George St with a short three track section south of World Square (WS) stop. At the stop CQ bound trams could call up a motorized dummy which would come off the centre track and buffer up behind the tram, automatically connecting and providing power. When connected – physically and electrically, the pan would be lowered automatically and the driver given clearance to depart as soon as passengers had finished interchange. The dummy would be towed all the way to CQ. If double ended operation is used, in spite of its disadvantages, the dummy would then be towed back, and disconnected physically and electrically while the tram was standing at the WS stop. Driver would raise the pan and the tram would depart. The dummy would then enter the centre track, ready for the next tram. If the preferable single ended operation were used the dummy would be pushed all the way back, and the dummy released at WS, this time entering the centre track before the tram takes off.

    All highly complicated, but no more complicated than some of the exhibition model railway layouts where the trains start, stop, couple, uncouple automatically. Surely someone in TfNSW is capable of thinking outside the square? But the only really sensible idea is to use overhead power collection, which is historically accurate, and, by far the cheapest and most efficient way of doing the job. The idea of carrying around a couple of tonnes of batteries or super caps just for this section is out of this world.

  20. Tony Galloway says:

    All the so called alternatives to overhead wire operation are inferior in both energy efficiency and reliability. Batteries and super capacitors are extra weight and a maintenance expense, while APS costs about three times what an overhead wire installation costs. And the APS in Nice and other French systems has had many teething problems and is more expensive to maintain than overhead wire.

    Best to stick with a technology that has worked well for 125 years, has had all the bugs sorted years ago, and is not beholden by patent to any individual company.

  21. Ray says:

    So why has this push for wire free technology been such a priority? There must be a reason and I suggest that there is a preference to preserve the visual landscape through sensitive civic precincts. And what is wrong with that? If the technology is available, then why not use it? Otherwise, forget it altogether and just go back to the what is a proven technological (wire operated) system, though not necessarily supported by the community at large through civic precincts. In this scenario there is no point in supporting alternative strategies as they would be meaningless.

  22. JC says:

    If you give politicians a choice between a solution that is simple, technologically proven, deliverable and value for money, and one that meets the concerns of the interest group they were most recently lobbied by, they will always choose the latter.

  23. Ray –

    When I spoke to one of the project engineers at TfNSW the reason I was given was the intense density of utilities and other things under the surface in the CBD making the installation of poles technically difficult. as a result, it was deemed easier to just avoid poles with overhead wires entirely through this section. While this had the added aesthetic benefits, these were not what the decision was ultimately based on.

  24. Tony Galloway says:

    The original George St tramway, opened in 1899, was electrified with ornate centre-street steel traction poles. Around 1908 those poles were removed as they did not clear the new, wider trams being introduced at the time.

    After that, most of the George St overhead wire was supported by rosettes attached to the substantial buildings along the route. If it was done then, it can be done again. In areas where that is impractical, the existing light poles could be replaced with stronger poles to support the wire, for no extra ”clutter”. Outside the Town Hall for example, wire could be supported on the west side by replacing the existing poles and by building rosettes on the eastern side. There doesn’t seem to be much progress on the open space proposed between Park, Pitt, Bathurst and George Sts, but if those buildings go, the poles can be used on that side too.

    Centre poles are an option there as well. As George St is on a steel and concrete roof over Town Hall station at that point, finding a strong footing for a couple of traction poles wouldn’t be a problem.

    The ”official explanation” (buried utilities), as usual, sounds utterly bogus. This wireless operation stuff is a solution in search of a problem. If the CAF (expected supplier of the new trams) super-capacitor based system is used, expect stranded trams marooned without power on hot summer days (they aren’t getting any cooler….) as the air conditioning sucks the juice out of the super-caps. The alternative is sweating passengers stuck in sealed trams struggling to the next charging point, with the a/c off. This is inevitable with battery or super-cap operation, and entirely avoidable by use of overhead wire.

    And I’ll make a brave prediction – if the CAF wireless system is implemented, it will be abandoned and replaced by overhead wire within five years. I’ll further predict the deficiencies of storage based wireless operation will be used by light rail opponents, if implemented, to attack and try to discredit light rail generally.

    The proposed CSELR will be one of the most intense tramway operations anywhere – big cars on close headways hauling a lot of passengers. The last thing it needs is an operational impediment that involves charging and discharging a storage (battery or super-cap) system that could tie up the entire system. Already at an absurd $113M/km, it is one of the most overpriced light rail projects in the world, this worthless idea of wireless operation must be scrapped before it becomes an unnecessary impediment to efficient operation.

  25. ash says:

    Fair enough if there is an intense density of utilities underground. But if you already have poles for streetlights I’m sure there is a possibility to either retrofit them or maybe even attach them to building facades.

    Don’t get me wrong it would be interesting for me to see a wire-free section for the trams but this really seems unnecessary. There was a much better argument for wire-free sections on the Nice tramway due to historic large open squares that it had to pass through, but this is just not the case on George Street where you’ve got tall buildings on either side the entire length of the way.

    Just go on Google maps and look at the streetscape at Melbourne, maybe on Swanston St. Then look at the same streetscape in Sydney e.g. at Martin Place. Hand on heart do we actually feel that overhead wires are going to be intrusive there? I mean That’s of course beside the point since the issue apparently is the density of utilities but well I’m trying to argue on this point.

    It is quite tempting to go with the project engineers here but really I smell fishes. The wire-free section seems like a way to make the project look more on the cutting-edge of technology than it needs to be. Its akin to calling the viaduct on the NWRL a futuristic “skytrain”.

  26. ash says:

    Tony – just saw your reply after I typed mine up haha!

  27. JC says:

    Tony, I think your prediction is optimistic. A failed CAF syetem won’t be repalced by wires – but the system will be abandoned – $billions wasted – and no light rail in Sydney for another 50 years.

  28. mich says:

    ” The cost of providing for a future extension at Rawson Place would be immaterial (a set of points). ”

    The cost of line bifurcations is a lot more than “a set of points”. Lines which “fork” to Randwick and Kingsford also have a cost in terms of frequency, usability and congestion issues both on the trams and at the tram stops.

    It’s all very well having a tram every ten minutes, but if you are going to Randwick or Kingsford, you might be waiting 20. And crowding the tram stop while you do so.

    When public transport ( any kind ), have bifurcated routes, the benefit is double the frequency for customers travelling to the shared portion of the route. Unfortunately in the case of this tram, the population of the shared portion of the route, is negligible, because it is a park.

  29. mich says:

    ” Good point – I didn’t realise students were so soft – OMG walking 500m or so would surely have serious consequences on their playlists. Having 2 stations on UNSW campus but none on Sydney U is a good summary of the problem.”

    One station, with double the frequency, would be better

  30. ash says:

    Mich, I think what he and I were referring to was just the *set of points*. It seems pretty clear to me that the next likely light rail route to be undertaken in the CBD would be the Parramatta Road light rail. So providing for a simple set of points would be a good idea no?

  31. Dudley Horscroft says:

    “It’s all very well having a tram every ten minutes, but if you are going to Randwick or Kingsford, you might be waiting 20.”

    “When public transport ( any kind ), have bifurcated routes, the benefit is double the frequency for customers travelling to the shared portion of the route. Unfortunately in the case of this tram, the population of the shared portion of the route, is negligible, because it is a park.”

    “Having 2 stations on UNSW campus but none on Sydney U is a good summary of the problem.”

    “One station, with double the frequency, would be better.”

    Mich, there are problems with these statements (which might not all have been yours). The current timetables show 87 buses heading in in the peak hour at Cleveland St junction. This, assuming an average of 60 seat buses, means 5220 seats in the peak hour, all of which would be occupied plus plenty of people standing. The tram service should provide at least as many seats per hour as the buses do. Assuming each tram has 180 seats, this means 29 trams per hour, almost exactly one every 2 minutes, not 10.

    Bifurcation at the southern end means a four minute service on each branch. While the Kingsford Branch should and no doubt will be extended to Maroubra Junction, at least, the Randwick Branch will not only service UNSW but also Prince of Wales Hospital, and should also be extended to Coogee. A single service to UNSW could not do this.

    Re the Central Station area, there are two tram stops planned. One in Chalmers St will be adjacent to the Devonshire St subway, enabling very good access to and from the elevated platforms. The other should be in Eddy Avenue, NOT in Rawson Place. This is intended for interchange with the Parramatta Road buses, which will be diverted to Elizabeth St. Rawson place is just not wide enough (allegedly – Google shows five traffic lanes plus two for parking) for a proper interchange, and is further away from the station. The coach services using this area should be shifted to the upper car park alongside No 1 platform.

    The line should run through Rawson Place and turn into George St. However, as you will have noticed a few days ago, often George St is closed for a parade or so. The trams will still have to run, and be turned back in this vicinity. There are two alternatives: turn into Pitt St and loop in Railway Square, either in the large pedestrian area or via Little or Big Regent Sts. The other is to turn right into Pitt St, then left into Hay, left into George and left again into Rawson Sts.

    Actually getting 180 seats into a tram is doubtful, unless they were reincarnations of Sydney’s P class cars! Single ended cars are essential, for the same width and length each section could have 32 seats, but only 24 if double sided with the same provision for doors. If you halve the number of doors in a double sided car you get 32 seats but you just about double dwell time at stops. Dwell time mut be cut to a minimum to ensure a reasonable transit time.

  32. Ray says:

    I don’t think you can equate trams having the same headways with metros or suburban rail. Look at some of the old photographs of trams in the Sydney CBD and they are bunched up one behind the other. You could have one minute headways through the city centre and I don’t see how this would be a problem.

  33. Alex says:

    Mich –When public transport ( any kind ), have bifurcated routes, the benefit is double the frequency for customers travelling to the shared portion of the route. Unfortunately in the case of this tram, the population of the shared portion of the route, is negligible, because it is a park.

    Only half of it is a park – the other half is the CBD, which would certainly benefit from high frequency services.

  34. mich says:

    “So providing for a simple set of points would be a good idea no?”

    Yeah, but having trams run straight to Broadway from Randwick, would not be a good idea. It means that people from Randwick who want to go to the CBD won’t catch them, and the waiting time is increased, and the effective frequency reduces. It would be better to catch a frequent service to Central and then change to a separate frequent service along Broadway. What is required to do this, is an effective interchange location, and frequent service. Not ” a set of points ” and a confusing mish-mash of routes.

  35. mich says:

    That’s true Alex, you get the higher frequency in the CBD section. But the point I was originally responding to, was the issue of having two routes, to the top side and the bottom side of the UNSW campus. It would probably be better to have a tram every five minutes at one end of the campus, than a tram every ten minutes on either end of the campus. If walking 500 metres is really too hard, the university should look at a shuttle bus. With two different tram stops, you not only have the problem of longer effective waiting times, you also have the problem of trams from one end being overcrowded, while trams from the other end are not overcrowded. With twice as many trams from one location, the variations in crowding level are diminished.

    And if you run the bifurcated route in that manner, you don’t benefit from the doubled frequency between Alison road junction and central very much – because there are not many people there.

    Compare that to the richmond/penrith line, where you have double frequency all the way out to Blacktown, including Parramatta.

    From the point of view of the downtown section of the tram, you benefit from the double frequency if you are going from george Street to Central, or indeed to Moore Park. But if you are going to Randwick or Kensington, you only get the half frequency there too, so the wait times are, on average, twice as long.

  36. mich says:

    “I don’t think you can equate trams having the same headways with metros or suburban rail. Look at some of the old photographs of trams in the Sydney CBD and they are bunched up one behind the other. You could have one minute headways through the city centre and I don’t see how this would be a problem.”

    Your post highlights a couple of issues. Trams are subject to traffic lights. They get stuck between each other. They are slooooow. What is the predicted time from Circular Quay to Central ? Twenty four minutes or something. Barely faster than walking. How quick is the city circle train ? Seven minutes ? If you were travelling from Circular Quay to Randwick, you’d save time taking the train and changing to the tram at Central. You’d pay through the nose using Opal for that, of course. And you’d have to guess which platform at Circular Quay, the next train to central will depart from….

    With politically correct tram operation, you can guarantee the tram will be slower than 100 years ago.

    The other problem with having one minute headways along george street, is that the government would never be prepared to buy enough trams and pay enough drivers to do it. They’d rather make you wait ten minutes and then cram 300 people into one tram.

  37. mich says:

    “The tram service should provide at least as many seats per hour as the buses do. Assuming each tram has 180 seats, this means 29 trams per hour, almost exactly one every 2 minutes, not 10.”

    They key word here is “should”. They should, but they won’t ! The tram service will have a lot less seats than the current buses do.

    Which would be OK, if they were faster. But I am sceptical that they will actually achieve that, either.

    And because the tram network won’t be extensive, many users will actually have to catch another bus to even get to the tram, which means more hassle and more waiting around.

  38. mich says:

    “However, as you will have noticed a few days ago, often George St is closed for a parade or so. ”

    The parades will have to move. Simple. You cannot divert trams like you can divert buses. It is unacceptable to shut down transport for parades, particularly pointless parades and film premieres that they sometimes seem to hold.

    If you want to run parades in George Street, then run the trams down Castlereagh Street.

    Run parades on Elizabeth Street and/or Macquarie Street.

  39. mich says:

    ” If you halve the number of doors in a double sided car you get 32 seats but you just about double dwell time at stops. ”

    That would only be true, if the double sided trams actually let people get out of both sides at ones, which they very rarely, if ever, do.

  40. Mich –

    Trams will take 15 minutes between Central and Circular Quay (not 24 minutes). This compares to 8 or 9 minutes on a train. But trams are also at the street level and stop more frequently (whereas trains are under or above ground and only stop once or twice between Central and Circular Quay), so they will often allow you to reach your final destination more quickly than on a train. That makes them comparable to trains.

  41. Tony Galloway says:

    The projected running times for the new tram operation from Randwick and Kingsford to Circular Quay are about 10 minutes longer than trams in the 50s, when they ran more in mixed traffic at the city end, on Cleveland and Oxford Sts.

    Compared to that the best European operations this timing is a joke – imposition of ridiculously low speed limits in George St pedestrian zones and failure to give trams intersection priority by either grade separation at critical points or signal pre-emption will make the operation much slower than can be achieved.

    THe destruction of institutional knowledge and the wilful disdain for and ignorance of the past, and how it was done then, by modern transport consultants (eg ”salesmen”) will inhibit the potential speed and capacity of the operation.

    Like the inner west light rail, the project has been burdened with the ”expertise” of heavy rail oriented designers who have ignored well-known tramway design features, like balloon loops at termini and high traffic intermediate turnback points like Randwick racetrack. At least the CSELR will be spared the absurd railway style block signalling and speed control inflicted on the inner west line – if sanity prevails.

    When you look back 120 years, when the original eastern suburbs tramways were constructed, they got it right then much more often than they do now.

    Maybe they’ll get it right eventually, but as Benjamin Franklin observed a long time ago :- ”Experience is a tough school, but fools insist on it”.

  42. Dudley Horscroft says:

    Tony is right here. There is no logical reason to subject trams to a lesser speed in a pedestrian zone than is permitted to buses in a non-pedestrian zone. The current 50 km/h limit is eminently reasonable. The tram tracks can (should) be clearly marked – perhaps an orange colouration in the concrete. Also the tram tracks in George St should be on a trambaan, so as to further differentiate tram space from pedestrian space. All stops should be side platform, so that in the event of an emergency buses can use the platforms – would one consider that at the World Square stop the buses should shift to right hand running? Or would they revert to kerbside stops, to the danger of pedestrians on the footpaths? If wide platforms would unduly restrict the passage of other vehicles, then narrow the platforms a bit!

    Mich, I am very happy that parades should shift to Macquarie St, and Elizabeth St.

    Re double sided trams, yes, if passengers are allowed out through a single door to each side of each compartment the dwell timing can be kept down to the same as that through two doors on the one side (I think that was what you meant, though not what you wrote). This was the case in Sydney – AFAIK all Sydney trams used to let passengers in and out on both sides. The R class, and possibly the R1 class had bars to prevent people using the off-side doors but I believe there was an instruction given that they were not to be used, and they weren’t. However, I cannot see HSE permitting this – another valued feature of the past lost.

    Tony is again right re the need for loop termini. Past Bridge St, a single track should continue to CQ, turning into a kerbside stop in Alfred St between George and Pitt. At this stop all passengers should set down. The tram then proceeds to another kerbside stop between Pitt and Loftus to take up passengers for one of the outer destinations. Alternatively, for trams bound for the other destination, the tram should turn to overtake the stopped tram and proceed to Loftus St, where there should be a kerbside stop immediately after the curve. At this stop, trams which have loaded passengers at the Alfred St stop would overtake, and after the lines merge, the single track will go up the hill, turn into Bridge St to a stop at the end of Bridge, then turn left back into George. Thence back up to Eddy Ave, etc.

    In the wide section of Anzac Parade past Kingsford there is ample room for a tram turning circle. At a four minute headway the delay to other road traffic would be minimal. At High Cross Park there is sufficient room for a turning circle using the streets forming the triangle around the park – which would lead to a kerbside tram stop adjacent to Prince of Wales Hospital.

    Note that UNSW runs roughly east-west, not north-south. At the west end it is proposed that the tram tracks will be diverted off the median strip so that the southbound stop, and possibly the southbound track is on UNSW grounds. A similar solutions should be employed at the eastern end, so that students would not have to cross over High Street – it is currently proposed that the Eastern
    UNSW stop will be in Wansey Road. This will both reduce dangers to passengers crossing High Street and reduce delays to other traffic continuing along High Street.

  43. Mark Newton says:

    Re the comments about wire-free operation in Nice: the original tramway there used conduit in the Place Massena, so there is some justification for the modern arrangement. But does anyone seriously believe that George St has the same architectural merit? I don’t.

  44. Dudley Horscroft says:

    The architectural merit of George St requires restoration of the original centre line poles. Only removed because the Tramway Department needed to run wider trams.

    Widths over foot boards were, for the various classes:
    C = 6′ 8.25″
    D = 7′ 7″
    E = 8′ 6″
    F = 8′ 2″, L class same, then L/P = 9′ 00″
    G = 8′ 3″
    H = 8′ 6″, M class same.
    J = 8′ 6″
    K = 8″ 6″
    N = 8′ 6″
    O = 9′ 00″, same for P and R, R1, classes.

    “Constructed between 1898 and 1899, the Colonial Government spared no expense in making the new George Street electric line artistically pleasing to Victorian (sic) tastes. Although the double tracks stood with the generous clearance of twelve feet between centres, the profusely ornamented steel centre brackets supporting the overhead wires, and constructed to the Mannesmann design, reduced the effective track centres to approximately 9 feet 3 inches, while the circular kerbing around the base of each pole base actually projected under the footboards of some tramcars.”

    “The civil engineering task in George Street commenced with the removal of the centre poles between January and March, 1908, but not until the completion of road widening and track slewing in the section between King and Essex Streets on March 18th, 1909, was the way clear for the new “O” cars to take over the bulk of the traffic on this trunk thoroughfare.”

    Text and dimensions from “A Century of New South Wales Tramcars, Vol 2, Electric Era. 1903 – 1908”, K McCarthy and N Chinn, SPER, Sydney, 1968.

  45. DLS says:

    The cancellation of the Epping to Parramatta rail link and the Chatswood to St Leonard’s quadruplication is by far one of the most short-sighted decisions I’ve ever seen.

  46. Tony Galloway says:

    The cynic in me thinks the cancellation of Epping-Parramatta and Chatswood-St Leonards, and the building of the NWRL as a sure-to-be-unpopular ”metro” (eg standee cattle cars) is a ploy to protect the commercial viability of Transurban’s motorway interests. And the refusal of O’Farrell to accept the EPRL federal funding from the get go indicates their intention to build the NWRL as a ”metro” long predates any public announcement, and when it was still depicted as being a double-deck, integrated Cityrail operation.

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