Transport for NSW has confirmed that it is likely that the CBD and South East light rail project will be opened in stages. This is because some parts of the line are at significantly different stages of construction.
The line between Randwick and Circular Quay will be open by Christmas, with the possibility for the stretch between Randwick and Central having the potential to open even earlier, possibly as early as August according to the latest information released by Transport for NSW. The branch line to Kingsford likely won’t be operational until March 2020 at the earliest it was also revealed.
The stretch of line between Randwick and Moore Park is complete, with full testing having been underway for a number of weeks. Station fit-out and landscaping work is also at an advanced stage along the Randwick branch, with most fixtures now in place. From Moore Park through to Central the line is also at an advanced stage, with testing expected to commence in the next few weeks. Construction of stations in Moore Park, Surry Hills and Central is nearly complete and landscaping work has now begun.
The Kingsford branch of the line, on the other hand is significantly behind on construction, with major works not yet complete along the branch. In the city, works are also still behind, however they are now nearing completion. These sections of the line were due to be completed last by last April at the latest. As these works are yet to be completed, there is no way for trams to begin testing which delays the eventual opening of these parts of the line.
Bearing in mind that the entire CBD and South East light rail network was due to enter into service in February ahead of the upcoming state election, it is good to see the powers that be finally making an attempt to fast track the opening of the project. It is still important to stress that the line must be tested properly to ensure that safe operation can be assured. The section of the line between Town Hall and Circular Quay is using a new world first model of the APS third rail system and as such it needs extra testing to iron out teething problems.
These delays have proven bothersome for the Berejiklian government, who is facing re-election this month. The light rail project was the pet project of Berejiklian when she was Transport Minister and its strikes a scar through the middle of must win seat Coogee, where the light rail was supposed to be the silver bullet that helped to retain the seat but now appears to be more akin to a bothersome distraction.
It will be good to finally have the line in service, even if only partially and 10 months late. We do however note that no opening date has been announced, but we will keep you posted.