This week in transport (27 July 2014)

Posted: July 27, 2014 in Transport
Tags: , ,

VIDEO: Sydney Public Transport Is Third World, The Feed (22 July 2014)

Wednesday: 3 new trams for Sydney Light Rail

The first 3 of the 12 new trams ordered for the Sydney Light Rail network arrived this week. These 12 Urbos 3 trams are to replace the existing 11 trams, a mix of Variotram and Urbos 2, currently operating on Sydney’s single light rail line between Central and Dulwich Hill. The 7 original Variotram vehicles date back to the lines opening back in 1997, while the 4 Urbos 2 vehicles were leased as a stop gap measure to provide sufficient rolling stock between the opening of the Dulwich Hill extension and the arrival of the 12 new Urbos 3 trams.

Sydney's light rail fleet. Clockwise from top left: Urbos 3, Urbos 2, Variotram. Click to enlarge. (Sources: Transport for NSW, Transport for NSW, Hourann Bosci.)

Sydney’s light rail fleet. Clockwise from top left: Urbos 3, Urbos 2, Variotram. Click to enlarge. (Sources: Transport for NSW, Transport for NSW, Hourann Bosci.)

Plans to increase peak hour frequencies from one tram every 10 minutes to one tram every 7.5 minutes, as suggested in October 2013, does not appear to have eventuated, with the Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian confirming that “Under the turn-up-and-go schedule, light rail customers don’t need a timetable, with services every 10 minutes in the peak and real-time information at all the stations” (Source: Transport for NSW).

Friday: Central Station partly shut down

Platforms 25 and 25 at Central Station were shut down, as was the Devonshire Street Tunnel that connects Chalmers Street with Lee Street, after these areas were sprayed with aerosol cans.

Members of the public in the area were reported to have subsequently started coughing, with emergency personnel shutting off both areas from public access during the busy evening peak (between around 3:51PM and 6:03PM).

Police arrested the 4 men in relation to the incident, and later charged 1 of them.

  1. Alex says:

    “Plans to increase peak hour frequencies from one tram every 10 minutes to one tram every 7.5 minutes, as suggested in October 2013, does not appear to have eventuated…”

    To be fair, the last sentence of the Minister’s media release does state: “The NSW Government will continue to monitor patronage and as more vehicles become available, look to increase service frequency.”

  2. Simon says:

    The video is right. Many third world countries do have better PT than Sydney, because they have to.

    Sydney does have a third world fare system.

  3. Tim says:

    Are the Variotrams to be scrapped?
    Seems like poor life cycle out of a modern light rail vehicle. I can’t believe they can have been worked too hard and they have spent most time running on an exclusive right of way.
    (I’ve searched the web in vain for an answer. One blogged suggested those Variotrams had problems with their hub motors)

  4. mandonov says:

    I’ll hazard a guess that they’re going to be sent to Newcastle.

  5. michblogs says:

    If you are requiring more and more people to make interchanges, ten minute frequency does not really qualify as “turn up and go”.

  6. Tim says:

    They are saying there were an extra 200,000 passengers on the light rail since the extension opened. How does this compare with the projected traffic?
    A quick calculation says over 3 months that’s 66k per month or, at a guess, 3k per weekday = 1.5k each way. It would be good if the ridership figures were more concrete.
    It would also be interesting to know how much of this is traffic diverted from buses or trains and how much from roads.

  7. Alex says:

    @mitchblogs – I agree, 10-minute or even 7.5-minute frequency doesn’t qualify as “turn up and go”. I would think that a five-minute frequency would be the absolute minimum to be called this, and it should be more like two or three minutes in the peak.

    I haven’t had a chance to travel on the light rail since the extension was opened, but prior to then I was struck by how much variation there could be in the duration between services, especially outside the morning and evening peaks. Hopefully it has improved so that a 10-minute frequency really means a tram turns up every 10 minutes, not that there are six services every hour. And how frequent or infrequent is the service in the off-peak, if during the peak the best they can manage is 10 minutes?

  8. Tim says:

    I found a partial answer to my question:
    Page 32 of this report Sydney Light Rail – Inner West Extension Study Draft 17 May 2010 ( has the following patronage projections.

    2011 current 3,700,000
    2016 No expansion 4,079,000
    2016 w/ DH extension 7,170,000 (inc. diverted and induced trips)

    That means they projected by 2016 the extension to 3,091,000 extra trips per year or ~257,000 per month. If correct they have a long way to go in the next two years to reach those figures if they have only done 200,000 extra “since it opened”.

  9. Tim says:

    This is from the Oct-13 announcement of the order for 6 extra LRT vehicle : “Ms Berejiklian said the cost of the latest contract was comparable to maintaining the existing ageing fleet of vehicles.”
    This indicates to me the Variotrams need a very expensive major refurbishment so will be scrapped.

  10. MrV says:

    A good article which hits at all the problems with NSW transport bureaucracy.

  11. Alexsg says:

    @MrV – Yes – I think this must be about the only occasion I have agreed with a Paul Sheehan article. I think however that NSW Treasury must share some of the blame with the “transport bureaucracy”, especially in relation to the one thing Sheehan didn’t touch on – having to pay a flag fall when changing modes.

  12. JC says:

    @Alexsg/MrV: It also pains me to admit agreeing with Mr S. But one wonders what his column would have said if the government rode roughshod over the rights of the private bus operators to make profits by introducing the sensible time/zonal fare scheme he seems to be advocating??

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