The Sydney Light Rail, worth $2.1 billion, will carry 13,500 commuters per hour upon its completion in April of 2019. ALTRAC Alliance, comprised of Alstom, ACCIONA, Transdev and Capella Capital took on the project in 2015 and has had its fair share of accomplishments, setbacks, challenges and discoveries.
A total of 19 stops will be constructed for the project, spanning from Circular Quay to Central, where an interchange to the Inner West Light Rail is planned to be, and then continues to Kingsford and Randwick via a split at Moore Park. The stops planned are:
- Circular Quay
- Grosvenor Street
- Queen Victoria Building
- Town Hall
- China Town
- Rawson Place
- Central Station
- Surry Hills
- Moore Park
- Alison Road (Randwick Branch)
- Wansey Road (Randwick Branch)
- UNSW High Street (Randwick Branch)
- Randwick Terminus
- Carlton Street (Kingsford Branch)
- Todman Avenue (Kingsford Branch)
- UNSW Anzac Parade (Kingsford Branch)
- Stanchon Street (Kingsford Branch)
- Kingsford Terminus
The project is already at its halfway mark, with 14,496m of track laid, meaning 8 out of 12 km of the project has already been completed.
The sections of track still not completed include:
- Zone 1 – Circular Quay
- Zone 11 – Haymarket
- Zones 17 to 20 – Surry Hills to Moore Park
- 1/2 of Zone 22 – Anzac Parade
Various works have already been carried out on the Sydney Light Rail and are still currently being undertaken:
- Investigations regarding surveys, services, testing of utility pits and verifying utility conditions
- Track and Civil works consists’ of road excavation, combined service trenches, track slabs and installation of rail
- Drainage and Footpaths incorporate pedestrian zones, reconstruction of kerbs and footpaths as well as the installation of new stormwater drainage
- Installation of stops, shelters, smart poles for wires and lights
- Commissioning and finishing works
The program for the project has run into various setbacks during its course, a major obstacle being that Transport for New South Wales found up to 1000 underground utilities and services with required more investigation and design changes than originally anticipated. The discovery also led to further negotiations with stakeholders regarding water, gas, power and designing the locations of light rail stops.
Aside from that issue, it was discovered at the beginning of the year that ALTRAC would need to lay 260 m of track a day, as opposed to the current 25m a day, to meet the project deadline.
Another reason that the Sydney Light Rail has been held up is due to various historic findings that required excavation, investigation and removal of artifacts or backfilling of sites. These findings include:
- Removal of Sydney’s old tram tracks from Anzac Parade
- Removal of footing and artifacts from the site of the Original Ship Inn that was demolished back in the 1900’s to make way for Sydney’s original Tram Line
- 19th Century terrace footing terrace footing from the 1850’s was also found during excavation works, though much of what remained had been removed during road resurfacing, mainly during the 20th Century
- 19th Century cellar footings from the Royal Arms Hotel. The building was demolished in the 1950’s and the footings were studied before removal so that the project could proceed
- Heritage stone items and fragments were found, matching those found by first Governance House that linked to local history
- Two air raid shelters and zig zag anti-aircraft trenches were uncovered at High Cross Park built in 1942
Despite all the additional work that the project needed to take on, they have already accomplished a lot, such as:
- Had its first track tested
- Laid its first wire-free section on George Street between Alfred Street and Bridge/Grosvenor Street in March 2017
- First track laid in Surry Hills in April 2017
- 13 of 24kms of track laid across the project
- Various sections have been opened up to the public
The next section of the project, considered to be one of the most challenging, is the Market St zone, with work being conducted just 500mm above a busy shopping arcade.
Old electrical poles will also be replaced with smart poles and the connection of underground electrical and communication services along Anzac Parade.