It wasn’t so long ago that light rail that was given scant attention in the planning of cities’ transport networks. But that has changed in recent years. Light rail has made a comeback around the world and there are positive signs for it here, too – Sydney’s inner-west light rail has had passenger numbers grow by 60 per cent since 2015.
The city’s new CBD-South-East Light Rail, which will connect passengers from Circular Quay via a newly pedestrianised George Street through to Randwick and Kingsford, will provide easy access to a number of major sporting, entertainment and educational precincts. Capable of shifting 13,500 passengers per hour, there’s every reason to predict it will become a much-used service when it begins operation in 2019.
Several other major cities are in the process of implementing light rail services. Canberra is rolling out its Light Rail network, the first stage of which will connect the fast-growing area of Gungahlin with the city. Newcastle’s light rail system is aimed at reinvigorating the city centre by linking new public spaces and city precincts. The Gold Coast has recently had its successful light rail network (called the G-Link) connected to the main rail line running from Brisbane. And Adelaide’s tram network extension project is underway with the eventual aim of constructing a city loop around the CBD and new routes to Kent Town and North Adelaide.
Though the transition to a light rail network is often not without its hardships given that light rail frequently takes the place of existing road infrastructure, the benefits to passengers of a high-frequency, high-capacity and reliable inner-city mode of transport are hard to overestimate. Image courtesy of Transport for NSW