Final countdown to construction: Sydney Light Rail major works start October 23

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The detailed construction schedule for Sydney Light Rail has been released today with major CBD works starting on George Street between King and Market Streets on October 23.

Light Rail will operate from Circular Quay to both Randwick and Kingsford, with “turn up and go” services arriving every four minutes in the CBD during peak hour and every eight minutes on each branch line.

Clean, efficient Sydney Light Rail vehicles will carry 450 passengers, the equivalent of nine standard buses. More than 220 buses will be removed from the CBD when Sydney Light Rail is operational as part of a fully integrated transport model.

Work on the 12-kilometre route will be staggered on a ‘get in, get out’ basis to minimise disruption to businesses and residents.

Construction will be staged across 31 construction zones with no one zone affected for the entire period. Individual CBD construction zones will be impacted for between eight and thirteen months before being handed back for public use.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance stressed the importance of recognising the challenge ahead, as well as the need for change.

“Today is about providing businesses plenty of time to prepare and plan well ahead of major construction activity,” Mr Constance said.

“Sydney can’t accommodate the 1600 buses that enter during the morning peak now, let alone provide for more in the future.

“We’ve been elected to get on with the job of transforming NSW through major transport projects such as the North West Rail Link, Sydney Rapid Transit, WestConnex and NorthConnex and light rail in the Sydney CBD and Parramatta.”

To ease congestion during major construction, a new bus timetable will be introduced on 4 October. The closure of George Street to buses means customers’ stops will move to other bus corridors including Elizabeth Street, Castlereagh Street, Park Street, Druitt Street, Clarence Street and York Street.

Movement of some bus stops will typically mean walking to an adjacent city street for a new service. Customers will be given plenty of time to familiarize themselves with the new timetable before it is implemented.

To keep the city moving during construction the NSW Government will establish a single body headed up by a Coordinator General Marg Prendergast that will have powers to manage traffic and transport arrangements in the CBD.

The central body will be based on the success of the 2000 Olympic Delivery Authority and the Coordinator General will employ delegated powers under the Roads Act 1993 and the Road Transport Act 2013.

With increased traffic diverted from George Street and extra demands placed on alternative routes, some planned works including the construction of Castlereagh Street north cycleway will not be carried out until after light rail construction is completed.

The removal of College Street cycleway in the coming months will also help better manage traffic, both cars and public transport.

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Duncan Gay said he was determined to help motorists as much as possible during construction.

“We’re throwing everything at this to alleviate pressure – we’re appointing a central body, putting work on hold where we can and carrying out supporting road upgrades before construction starts,” Mr Gay said.

“We know this is going to be a difficult period of change but we’re Sydney and we’re used to rising to the challenge – I know light rail will be no exception.”

Key major construction dates include:

  • September 2015, construction access for Moore Park West Corridor
  • October 2015, CBD works start
  • January 2016 start of Randwick branch
  • February 2016, start of Kingsford branch
  • August 2016 start of work in Surry Hills
  • September 2016, completion of the first pedestrian zone block in George Street
  • May 2017 completion of final pedestrian zone block in George Street
  • September 2017, start of the final work zone along the route (Elizabeth St to Chalmers St)
  • September 2017, arrival of light rail vehicles
  • April 2018, completion of major civil construction; ongoing works continue to finalise the installation of electronic systems and construction of platforms
  • June 2018, testing commences

Major construction phases relate to excavation works, the rebuilding of roads and the laying of tracks. Work will continue on technical fit out and the construction of individual platforms after this time but will be confined to narrower corridors and will be significantly less intrusive.

Pedestrian access will be maintained throughout construction as will local vehicle and emergency vehicle access. East-West crossings of the CBD will also be maintained.

Why Sydney needs light rail fact sheet (pdf 231KB)

Supporting business and the community fact sheet (pdf 182KB)

Keeping Sydney moving fact sheet (pdf 275KB)

Construction fact sheet (pdf 260KB)