Sydney light rail

Sydney Light Rail gets service boost

Nearly 900 extra services are being added to the Sydney light rail network, with an extra 810 services added to the L2 Randwick and L3 Kingsford lines.

294 services on the lines were added in May, however as of 9 June an additional 518 services are now part of the weekly timetable.

On the L1 Dulwich Hill line, 55 services have been added from 1am to 3pm to provide a constant 10 minute service on weekdays.

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said that improvements have been made to the network while patronage numbers were lower during April and May.

“Since the L3 Kingsford Line opened to customers on 3 April, we have used the quieter than normal period to make improvements to traffic signal phasing and the infrastructure and systems in place,” he said.

The Sydney light rail line running from the CBD to the south eastern suburbs was initially criticised for slow average speeds, however Constance said that journey times have been decreasing.

“Since April, we’ve seen end-to-end journey times of around 38-40 minutes for both the L2 and L3 Lines.

“As the new timetable is bedded in, we will see further improvements to the end-to-end journey time with services running around 38 minutes on the L2 Randwick and L3 Kingsford Lines.”

The increase in services comes at a critical time as patronage on the public transport network in Sydney is increasing. Commuters are still required to maintain physical distancing while on public transport, and having extra services will allow this, said Constance.

The added services increase capacity across the light rail network by 26,900 spaces a week. The increase in frequency will see vehicles operating at 4-minute intervals between Circular Quay and Moore Park and every 8 minutes in the south eastern suburbs between 7am and 7pm on weekdays.

New milestones for Sydney Light Rail

The L2 Randwick Line, the newest tram route for Sydney Light Rail, has achieved more than two million trips.

The line opened on 14 December 2019 from Circular Quay, down George Street, and onwards to Randwick.

A new timetable was introduced in late January to make L2 Randwick Line to add 215 weekday services and improve journey time between Randwick and Circular Quay.

The next line from Kingsford via Kensington is expected to open next month.

Sydney Light Rail stated that the construction team is busy finishing works for the L3 Kingsford Line.

Pram ramp finishing works, sealing pavements, final landscaping, installing remaining tactile pavers in Kingsford, and cleaning footpaths and stops are being concluded in Kingsford and Kensington.

Tram testing and commissioning, and driver familiarisation of the route is progressing so more trams will be travelling along Anzac Parade to the Juniors Kingsford terminus in the coming weeks.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said It is expected that the daily trips will increase with the return of university students this week and as we introduce the L3 Kingsford Line in the coming months.

“Services between Kingsford and Circular Quay via Central are expected to commence in March 2020, pending ongoing testing and commissioning, driver training and performance tests,” the spokesperson said.

On average, around 40,000 passenger trips are taken each day, the most popular trip being between Circular Quay and QVB.

The most popular have been Circular Quay, QVB, China Town and Town Hall, followed by Wynyard and Central Chalmers St.

Sydney opening caps big year for Alstom

Alstom Australia’s managing director Mark Coxon sat down with Rail Express after a whirlwind 2019, with big wins for Alstom across multiple states and sectors.

The New Year’s break is a welcome opportunity for rest and relaxation for many professionals. But for Mark Coxon and his team at Alstom Australia, the 2019/20 break was perhaps the most well-earned in recent memory.

Eleven days before Christmas, Sydney opened quite a large present. The first revenue services for the Sydney CBD and South East Light Rail line between Circular Quay and Randwick represented the culmination of four years of construction and delivery.

Around 160,000 passengers rode the new line in its first two days, and they rode on some of the 60 Citadis X05 light rail vehicles delivered by Alstom.

By January 8, the line had already handled its first million passengers.

Alstom has also delivered the project’s power supply equipment (including two kilometres of APS wire-free ground power supply), energy recovery substations, signalling, communications, and depot equipment for the project, and is now underway on a 19-year maintenance contract.

“We’re very happy with this project,” Coxon, Alstom’s managing director in Australia and New Zealand, told Rail Express shortly after the Sydney opening.

“The Alstom scope has been on time, and we’ve had new technologies brought for the first time to Australia – another sign of confidence in the Alstom delivery capability.”

Light rail vehicles are rolling down George Street for the first time in more than 60 years. Unlike the original system, it is free of overhead wires for two kilometres of its route thanks to Alstom’s ground-based APS power supply.

APS, originally Alimentation Par le Sol – “fed through the ground” – but now anglicised to Aesthetic Power Supply, uses modern technology to safely feed power through the base of the LRV via a third rail between the tracks.

Coxon notes APS is a new technology in Australia, but also that the Citadis X05 is the latest version of Alstom’s light rail vehicle range.

“On top of that, the reverse cycle power- optimised substations were in our scope,” Coxon continues. “So that’s a number of new technologies we’ve brought to this iconic project, and it was great to see trams going down George Street – and great to be on that first tram.

While Alstom’s share of the project was successful, Coxon is well aware of the disruptions caused throughout the overall project’s delivery. But he’s confident the quality of service passengers will enjoy in the longer- term will make up for it.

“It’s obviously become a well-known project to Sydneysiders, and it’s been quite disruptive to residents during construction. But over time, I am sure the people of Sydney will appreciate the project, particularly as journey time reduces and the reliability continues to grow,” he said.

“To be honest, these projects historically around the world are quite disruptive, and this is on one of the oldest and busiest streets in Australia. It would be difficult to implement that kind of project anywhere in the world. We managed to get this one online in 2019, a bit later than planned, but the opening has been successful and we look forward to the growth of patronage of that system.”

Sydney Metro a roaring success

Despite all the exciting new technology in Sydney’s new light rail, perhaps the most exciting thing delivered by Alstom in Australia during 2019 was north of the city.

When Sydney Metro Northwest opened on May 26, passengers rode on a fleet of 22 new six-car, driverless metro trains from Alstom, which also delivered signalling and will handle ongoing maintenance work.

In its first six months, the new metro line had serviced more than 11 million journeys.

“It’s been a successful journey,” Coxon said. “It’s the first driverless metro system in Australia, so that took some time for passengers to get used to, but the reliability growth that we’ve seen on our system has been as expected, and very similar to other projects around the world. Today, we’re getting to around 99 per cent availability of the system.

“That project contains two successful aspects for us: the Alstom rollingstock but also the signalling system, our CBTC driverless Urbalis 400 system. The integration between the CBTC system and the rollingstock has been extremely good, and I think that’s one of the advantages of being an integrator of both technologies.”

Maintenance details

The success on Sydney Metro Northwest led the NSW Government to exercise a pre-agreed extension in the original contract to the next portion of the line, Sydney Metro City and Southwest. The news – a $570 million win for Alstom – means Coxon’s team will now deliver another 23 trains (with an option for more), and its Urbalis 400 CBTC along the new portion of the line.

Coxon told Rail Express the extension demonstrated the government’s confidence in Alstom and its colleagues in the Sydney Metro delivery team.

“We always knew the success of Northwest would be a critical component on the augmentation for City & Southwest,” he said. “It’s such an iconic and strategic project for Alstom, and City & Southwest is a similar scope to what we executed on Northwest. Again I think it will demonstrate the importance of integrating the CBTC signalling technologies with the rollingstock.”

Once complete, the City & Southwest project will combine with Northwest to create a 66-kilometre continuous line, complete with Alstom rollingstock and signalling.

“We’re looking forward, as well, to extending the maintenance scope to that full line,” Coxon added.

Huge win in WA

Alstom’s success in 2019 wasn’t limited to the east coast. Early in December it finalised a $1.3 billion deal to deliver 246 EMU railcars 6 DMU to PTA, the public transport operator in WA. Under the 10-year contract, at least 50 per cent of railcar assembly will take place in WA, at a 12,000 sqm plant near the old Midland Railway Workshops. Alstom will also undertake maintenance for 20 years with the option to extend to 30 years.

Coxon told Rail Express the contract win was the result of more than two years of work with the government, local businesses, training organisations and community.

“We’ve had a lot of engagement with local and international suppliers about the local content, and that concluded with the award of that project to Alstom, which we’re absolutely delighted with,” he said. “We’re looking forward to building a train in Western Australia that the people of Perth can be proud of.”

Work to build what will become Alstom’s new rollingstock base in WA is expected to be completed in 2021. Local work under the contract is expected to create at least 200 jobs in supply and maintenance, revitalising the state’s rail manufacturing sector.

“Obviously, it’s a long journey, and we’re going to be part of that recreation of the railcar manufacturing industry in Western Australia, but that’s not the first time Alstom have done that,” Coxon said. “We’ve done it all around the world; the US, South Africa, India, and of course 20 years ago in Victoria with the X’Trapolis trains.

“We’re not newcomers to it, but it is a new journey in Western Australia, and  we’re interested in taking the suppliers on board for that journey, as well as our future employees. We’re going to have to build up a strong skilled workforce in Western Australia.”

Coxon said Alstom is also looking to build a good partnership with the state’s Public Transport Authority, along with its suppliers to build a train which we hope to have on tracks by the middle of 2022.

“What made that contract so attractive to Alstom was the long-term maintenance contract, which allows us to make sure the rollingstock is designed to maintainability as well,” Coxon explained. “We’ll build a strong workforce for the build, and then progressively for the maintenance.

“We’ve included in the project our HealthHub technology which focuses on the predictive maintenance capability, to ensure we’re maintaining the core components as they’re being used, and we can plan our maintenance schedules to optimise availability of the product. That’s a similar product to what we’ve installed for the Sydney Metro, so it’s not the first time we’ve installed it here in Australia, but again is a first for Western Australia.”

Next X’Trapolis in the works

Alstom has been supplying its X’Trapolis metro fleet to Melbourne’s Metro Trains network for nearly two decades, with more than 102 trains delivered. “It has proven to be one of the most reliable products in Australia today, so we’re very proud of this product and our skilled workforce in Ballarat who deliver this,” Coxon said.

After being awarded the preliminary design contract for an X’Trapolis 2.0 in late 2018, Coxon said the team spent a large portion of 2019 working with the state towards a new generation of the successful train.

“The X’Trapolis 2 will have all the latest technologies, adapted to integrate seamlessly into the Melbourne network. We would like to see this product rolled out on the Melbourne network and continue the long and successful story of X’Trapolis Melbourne trains.”

Reduced dwell times to cut Sydney CBD light rail travel time

Sydney’s light rail has become 10 percent faster due to reduced journey times.

The 12-kilometre service between Randwick and Circular Quay had previously been running at around 45-50 minutes and this week the journey time will be improved to 40-45 minutes end to end.

Instead of adjusting speed limits, the journey will be quicker due to reduced dwell times at scheduled stops.

A Transport for NSW spokeswoman said more services will be added to the network to increase passenger journey times too. 

“The new timetable introduced yesterday (20 January) will boost the number of weekday services on the L2 Line by an additional 215 services per week, as well as improving the journey time between Randwick and Circular Quay,” the Transport for NSW spokesperson said. 

“Transport for NSW is continuing to work with ALTRAC to improve service reliability on the new light rail.”

The 19 stop service will become more frequent from the current foundation stage of running every 4-8 minutes between Circular Quay and Central, and every 8-12 minutes between Central and Randwick during peak times on weekdays.

Service operator Transdev told the NSW Parliament last year that projected travel times were 38-40 minutes.

Transport for NSW said they anticipated that there may be operational challenges and issues during the opening period of the L2 line, and there have been some unplanned disruptions to services.

“More than 1 million trips have been taken on the new L2 Randwick light rail line since opening on 14 Dec. On average, there are around 44,000 trips each day,” The Transport for NSW spokesperson said.

“Transport for NSW is continuing to work with the light rail operator to improve service reliability and journey time, especially in the lead up to the start of passenger services on the L3 Kingsford Line in March this year, funded through the existing project budget.”

Sydney’s light rail opens

PICS: NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, transport minister Andrew Constance and Sydney’s lord mayor Clover Moore officially opened the L2 Randwick Line light rail service from Circular Quay to Randwick early on Saturday morning.

Rail Express was in attendance to travel on the first tram down George Street, Sydney CBD’s main boulevard, since trams last travelled the route in 1958.

By Sunday afternoon 115,000 customers had used the service which operated on average every 6-8 minutes, according to Transport for NSW. These patronage figures are about three times the daily patronage of the Inner West Light Rail.

“The trams should never have been taken out! So we’ve put them back in, but there’s no footboards on this one, so there’s no riding them on the side,” minister for transport Andrew Constance said.

Frank Ayrton, who had worked as a conductor on the old network which was ripped up by 1961, was among the the first to ride the first service down George Street, alongside Constance, Berejiklian and Moore.

He told Rail Express his job included walking along the outside of the trams to collect fares from those riding on the footboards.

“One hand was for the money, the other hand for the tickets and all you had to hang on with was your elbow,” Ayrton said.

Berejiklian took the opportunity to address the delays to the project: “I just want to say to everyone in the community:  thank you for your patience. The people of NSW, whether you live, work or come to visit Sydney, you’ve been extremely patient with us, so thank you.”

“Literally thousands of men and women have spent many hours assiduously over the years to make this a reality, they’ve started a major network and made a network which is changing our city and transforming our state, and I’m excited to see the light rail form a broader part of our transport network. The young people here today they’ll grow up knowing that we had a city that’s integrated, that’s modern, that’s looking to the future,” Berejiklian said on Saturday morning.

Secretary of TfNSW Rodd Staples also addressed the challenges. “Whether you’ve been involved in the original conception of this service, whether you’ve been involved in building it, whether you’ve been a community member or a business member, whether you’re a tram spotter, while you’ve had a long way – it’s fantastic to be here with you today to celebrate the commencement of this service.”

“The city has been a construction zone over the last couple of years…and something that you won’t know though is that during construction, I found out that we had a secret helper. Gladys’s father, Mr Berejiklian, would quite often go into the city and find a construction zone and talk to the workers, and then report back to the premier about how things were really going,” Constance joked.

The ALTRAC consortium – Alstom, Transdev, Acciona and Capella – delivered the integrated system. The 12km network was delivered under a turnkey PPP model, which included the design and supply of 60 Citadis X05 Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs), power supply equipment including over two kilometres of twire-free ground-based power supply, energy recovery substations – HESOP, signalling, communications, depot equipment and a 19-year maintenance agreement.

The 60 LRVs will be able to move up to 13,500 commuters per hour (6,750 in each direction) during peak times once fully operational, according to Alstom.

As part of the contract, the consortium has also taken over the operations and maintenance of the existing Inner West Light rail (IWLR) that connects Sydney’s inner west with the Pyrmont peninsula, Darling Harbour and the southern CBD.

“This new Light Rail system will transform Sydney and provide a step change in the city’s public transport capability and reliability while protecting the aesthetic appeal of the CBD and improving sustainability of the overall transport network,” managing director for Alstom in Australia & New Zealand Mark Coxon said.

Opening day issues included a driver braking suddenly, with one man falling down on the packed tram. The service was briefly delayed while the driver was replaced.  A tram also lost power later in the afternoon, which necessitated all trams be stopped for thirty minutes.

In response, ALTRAC held a conference in the afternoon to address the issues, saying additional customer resource officers were deployed on the ground, stops were being monitored on CCTV and crowd management crews, heavy tows and police were stationed throughout the network.

“It’s been a bumpy day,” chief officer light rail operations Transdev Australasia Brian Brennan said.

“Tram failures do occur, it’s reality, but it has been an outstanding success today.”

More than 200,000 km of testing has been carried out on the line during testing while the 100 drivers have each undertaken 190 hours of training, however introducing customers on real journeys presents different challenges.

As capacity grows on the network and customers become more accustomed to the system, journey times will further improve as the L3 Kingsford Line opening approaches in March 2020, according to the state government.


Frank Ayrton, conductor before Sydney’s original tram network was torn up in the 1960s.


Trams were packed on the first day of services.

Sydney Light Rail network nears completion

The finishing touches are now being made to Sydney CBD’s new light rail network, with tram testing already underway between Circular Quay and Randwick via Town Hall, Central Chalmers Street, and Moore Park.

According to the service provider passengers can expect services to be up and running soon.

Tree pit protections, localised paving and driveway asphalting between Goulburn Street and Hay Street are being finalised.

Utility works at the Hunter Street and Margaret Street intersection are ongoing and road asphalting will be laid in the coming weeks.

Water works are underway at the Park Street and Druitt Street intersection, while stormwater works on Bathurst Street are due for completion by the end of October.

Pedestrian crossing works, bike lane construction and paving works are also nearing completion, including along the busy central Eddy Avenue site.

“As we get ready for services to start in December, Sydneysiders will see more trams every day. Driver training extends into the CBD this week and there will be up to 12 trams out testing day and night, seven days a week,” said Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy took the opportunity today to remind road users to exercise caution and adjust their behaviour around the new mode of transport.

“The message for all road users is the same; ditch the distraction, follow the road rules and pay attention.”

“Drivers and operators of heavy vehicles must follow the new traffic signals and always stop on the red. Never turn in front of a tram and do not queue across intersections. Food delivery operators and couriers are also reminded to not ride in the tram corridor,” said Corboy.

The trams are powered by an Alstom developed technology called Aesthetic Power Supply (APS), a “third rail” strip embedded into the ground.

APS is designed so power flows only to parts of the third rail while the light rail vehicle is completely covering them, making the technology safe for pedestrians and motorists.

 

Sydney Light Rail on course for construction milestones as CBD tests continue

The New South Wales Government has released several updates for the Sydney Light Rail project, including upgrades at the Surry Hills, Moore Park, Kensington and Kingsford stops.

The ongoing construction is part of the overall $2.7 billion Sydney light rail project, a 12 kilometre route with 19 stops running from the CBD to the south east.

A Sydney Light Rail engineering teams is expected to complete drainage works in the next few weeks as overhead wires are installed at Kensington and Kingford, in addition to completion of landscaping, footpaths and road work.

Footpath works are progressing along Anzac Parade between Doncaster Avenue and High Street, and the footpath between Duke Street and Balfour Lane has now been completed. 

Additional paving has also been completed on the northwest side of Strachan Street, with further works to reinstate footpaths and roads at Zone 31 ahead of a traffic switch at Sturt Street set to take place in the coming weeks, according to SLR.

Construction works at Moore Park are also nearing completion, including the installation of new street lights and overhead catenary systems, as well as additional kerb and asphalting works. A retaining wall located next to the Langton Centre near South Dowling Street is also close to completion.

Tram testing is also making its way through the CBD following last month’s milestone test on George Street, which marked the first tram journey on the street in 61 years.

Upcoming CBD works include underground cable installation, non-potable water in zone 5 re-levelling works in zone 6, public domain works in zone 11, footpath restoration in zone 12, and pedestrian crossing and bike lane works in zone 13.

Sydney’s George Street hosts first tram journey in over 60 years

A new tram delivered as part of the Sydney Light Rail project has made its inaugural night test to George Street, marking the first time a tram has journeyed down the road in 61 years.

The Alstom-designed Citadis X05 tram travelled from Randwick through the Hay Street intersection and part-way along George Street to the Town Hall stop before journeying to the Light Rail maintenance depot at Lilyfield.

Testing and commissioning is expanding rapidly, with people already seeing the new trams in Randwick, Moore Park, Surry Hills, and Central Station, and to Town Hall in the coming days,” Sydney Light Rail said in a statement.

“Driver training is also continuing to ramp up as we get closer to being ready for passenger services.”

The trams will be kept at the Lilyfield light rail heavy maintenance depot, which will house the trams and keep them in working order. Construction of the Lilyfield depot which was formed from part of the former Rozelle rail yards is now complete, with 1105 metres of track having been laid in place to service up to six trams at a time for light maintenance.

The total fleet of 60 new trams will eventually be housed in the Randwick Stabling Yard each night, with 36 trams already in place at the yard so far.

The $2.1-billion Sydney CBD and South East Light Rail project encompasses a 12-kilometre route with 19 stops extending from Circular Quay to Anzac Parade. The project is expected to be completed in May 2020.