Colin Seymour's Sydney Light Rail Page

This page contains historical news about the introduction of the Sydney Light Rail network from 1996-1997 and a reference to Matthew Geier's pages (updated 20th November 2019) which also include Sydney Light Rail photographs from the same era:

New light rail for Sydney

1998 - recent


The new section of light rail in Sydney known as L2 operates from 14th December 2019, with 14 stops between Circular Quay and Randwick. Pedestrians can be fined $76 fines for walking in or along tram tracks without being more than 20 metres from the nearest traffic lights. L1 is the Dulwich Hill Line, running from Central station through the Inner West to Dulwich Hill, opened in 1997 and extended in 2000 and 2014.

"The $2.9bn line between Circular Quay to Randwick was finally opened to passengers on Saturday after a cost blow-out that took the project’s price tag to $2.9bn – almost twice its initial projected cost.

The opening of the light rail network means the return of trams to Sydney for the first time since 1961."

Sydney light rail network breaks down on first official day of operation"

A third passenger route, the L3 Kingsford Line, will commence service in March 2020. Together, the lines are known as the CBD and South East Light Rail network.


Contracts for Stage 1 of the Parramatta Light Rail project were awarded on December 20th, 2018. This line will run from Westmead to Carlingford via Parramatta CBD and Camellia and is expected to begin operations in 2023.

Contracts awarded for Parramatta Light Rail

A second stage to branch to Sydney Olympic Park has been in planning, but is dogged by uncertainties over funding .

Parramatta is an area of concentrated commercial, business and residential development like a satellite city of Sydney, 12 miles from central Sydney (14 miles by road and 34 minutes by train), and is conveniently accessible from the western suburbs of Sydney.

Testing trams on the CBD & South East Light Rail line began at night in February, and day time testing is expected to begin in the coming months.

Sydney light rail depot energised

"The state government was warned as far back as 2012 of the limited benefits from a new light rail line in central Sydney relative to its high-cost, leaked reports marked “cabinet-in confidence” reveal.

An analysis for the state's transport agency six years ago found none of 26 possible routes – including the one that was eventually chosen – had a benefit-cost ratio above 0.8, meaning the cost of constructing and operating the line would exceed the value to taxpayers.

Experts warned on high costs of Sydney light rail project six years ago


The first Alstom Citadis X05 tram of 60 was completed and delivered to the Randwick depot on 28th July 2017 as part of the CBD and South East Light Rail project.

Variotram number 2107 was passed to Sydney Tramway Museum and the other five Variotrams were scrapped.


The first section of L2 track in the CBD was laid in December.


Major construction began in George Street in October on the line from Circular Quay to Randwick and Kingsford.

The remaining six Variotrams were placed into store in Penrith.


The L1 line extension to Dulwich Hill opened, now known as the Dulwich Hill Line.

The contract for L2 was awarded to a consortium named ALTRAC Light Rail (previously known as Connecting Sydney) in December 2014.


After derailing at Glebe on 7th October 2013, Variotram number 2106 was scrapped.

The first new Urbos 2 and Urbos 3 trams for the Inner West Light Rail arrived in Sydney.

Veolia Transport Sydney was renamed Transdev Sydney on 1st July.

The Sydney Monorail, opened in July 1988, closed on 30th June.


Sydney’s Light Rail Future plan of December 13th 2012 proposed a 12 km line connecting Circular Quay to Moore Park, with branches serving Randwick and Kingsford, and a Western Sydney light rail network for Parramatta.


The New South Wales government's Light Rail Extension Feasibility Study, targeting transportation between the CBD, the University of Sydney and the University of NSW, examined 11 possible route options. This included a bus rapid transit option, but they found that light rail could support a higher level of demand.

"THE O'Farrell government will soon be asked to approve a sweeping overhaul of Sydney's central business district, including plans for light rail down George Street and significant changes to bus routes...

The studies, commissioned by the former Labor government, have identified George Street as the best route to run a tram line. It would go from Central Station to Alfred Street near Circular Quay."

Sydney Morning Herald, March 31, 2011
All change for light rail


The Sydney Metro proposal was withdrawn in February, scrapped by the new NSW Premier Kristina Keneally.


The "Sydney Metro", originally called the "Metro Link", modelled on the automated Paris Métro Line 14, was announced by the Iemma NSW state government in February, and was going to connect the CBD to Rouse Hill, Westmead, Malabar and lower North Shore.

But an independent review commissioned by the Treasurer Michael Costa said that the proposal would do more harm than good to the NSW economy and strongly criticised its inferior network planning:

Metro a $12b disaster, says buried report


After Morris Iemma won the 2007 NSW state election, he announced that a new "world class" and "Euro-style" metro railway was under active consideration.


Metro Transport Sydney was rebranded Veolia Transport Sydney.

Revised plan for CBD Light Rail extension proposed by City of Sydney via Castlereagh Street only.


The Glazebrook report commissioned by the City of Sydney favoured light rail over bus, presenting the justification for light rail in inner Sydney and the choice of specific route corridors.


2003-4 First planning studies and EIA Report completed for CBD Light Rail extension (Pitt and Castlereagh Streets).


The Randwick City Council commissioned a traffic study which recommended a light rail system including Randwick, and nearby Kensington.


The NSW Civil Liability Act 2002 protects government agencies from being sued for damages when developing major projects (such as light rail networks)


Connex sold its share of the Sydney monorail to the Sydney Light Rail Company (SLRC), unifying the ownership of the monorail and light rail and leading to the creation of Metro Transport Sydney.


The Lilyfield extension to the Inner West Light Rail L1 line opened in August, with 4 new stops (Glebe, Jubilee Park, Rozelle Bay, Lilyfield).

Extensions of the Sydney Light Rail system - August 2000 [photo series - Matthew Geier]


The construction of the Lilyfield extension to the Inner West Light Rail L1 line began, funded by the NSW government.


Planning studies were completed for the Glebe and Lilyfield extension to the Inner West Light Rail L1 line.

The Sydney Light Rail Company (SLRC) purchased TNT Transit Systems in August.

Map (added 24/3/97)

This map shows the original section of the Inner West Light Rail / Dulwich Hill Line (L1) which opened for public operation on 11th August 1997, terminating at Wentworth Park (this stop is named after the park on the opposite side of Wattle Street).

It was extended in 2000 by adding 4 stops, terminating at Lilyfield, and in 2014 going to Dulwich Hill.

Developments from September 1995 to February 1997

Update 23/2/97: At the road crossing behind the Entertainment Centre carpark, the trolley wire of the right of way section crosses the road but then terminates in pull offs to the set of span poles one back from the crossing on the street trackage side (Thanks to Bill Bolton, on misc.transport.urban-transit, 2 Feb 1997).

For those who don't know, Sydney, Australia, which abandoned its trams (streetcars) in 1961, will shortly open the first line of what might be a large, modern tramway system.

According to David McLoughlin, Auckland New Zealand, the Daily Telegraph, a Sydney newspaper, is against the reintroduction of trams, and recently published an article which included the following items:

  • Six people have been killed by trams in a pedestrian mall in Sheffield, UK (See note below)
  • Melbourne is an ugly place because of the trams.
  • In about a month, the 3.6km line from Central Station via Darling Harbour to Wentworth Park will be completed (i.e. mid-March 1997)
  • The trolley wires will impose a height clearance of 5.6m on a main road out of the city.
  • Trams will help gambling addicts travel to the Casino
  • Trams will obstruct road traffic
  • There is a proposal to run trams through the central business district up Pitt Street, turning at Circular Quay and back down Castlereagh Street.
  • Marilyn Stephens, who chairs the retail subcommittee of the Business Council of Sydney, says traffic congestion will worsen and pedestrians will be put at risk.

Note: The February '97 issue of Light Rail and Modern Tramway has an article "Supertram Under Fire for Poor Safety Record". It quotes the Sheffield newspapers as saying there have been 75 injuries and 2 deaths in a 2 year period due to Tramway related accidents. Most of these are related to bicycle and automobile accidents due to the tracks in the streets...There is no mention of pedestrian deaths from being struck by the trams.
- From John Ballentine, Chandler, Arizona

Update 11/1/97: According to the Sydney Morning Herald of December 16, 1996, the Department of Transport was expected to recommend an extension of Sydney's light rail system to Circular Quay and Leichhardt. The Sydney Light Rail Company and its consortium partners AIDC, ABB, GHD Transmark and TNT will no longer seek Federal and State funding to do this.

The State Government has awarded Sydney Light Rail the rights to operate the Ultimo-Pyrmont light rail system to be completed in the middle of next year.
Thanks to Bill Bolton, on misc.transport.urban-transit

Update 18/9/96: The track bed for the "street level" sections of the line between Darling Harbour and Railway Colonnade is nearing completion; there is one section of the outbound track, behind the Capitol Theatre, between Pitt St and Parker Lane and about 50 metres in length, which is still in open excavation of the trackbed. The inbound track bed and other places on the double track "street level" sections are complete.

Rail started to be laid in (about) 15 metre lengths along the section from Quay St to George St, and these sections were being thermic welded into much longer lengths.
Thanks to Bill Bolton, on misc.transport.urban-transit

Update 22/8/96: Thu, 12 Sep 1996: The new LRT line has little in common with the former tram lines in Sydney except for the short section at Sydney Terminal Station which uses the ramps and loading area that was formerly the southern end of the "Railway to Circular Quay" circular tram service through the Sydney CBD.
Thanks to Bill Bolton

Update 10/7/96: D. McLoughlin of Auckland, N.Z., writing in newsgroup misc.transport.urban-transit described Sydney's last old tram as having run in 1961, and old lines included those which ran to Dulwich Hill, Glebe and Leichardt, and one-way along Pitt and Castlereagh streets to Circular Quay in the city centre.

The Winter 1996 issue of "The Glebe-Leichhardt Light Rail Update" features a lead article which states that approval for the extension of the Pyrmont-Ultimo light rail to Glebe and Leichhardt at its western end and from Central station to Circular Quay in the City is now running eight months behind schedule. This is allegedly due to the Carr government procrastinating over the approval. Track laying for the 3.6km, $65million Central to Ultimo section of the project is well under way and should be finished by the end of 1996. The article also advocates further westward extensions to Dulwich Hill and a rail interchange station at Lewisham. There are alternative possibilities for the extension to Circular Quay running one way via Pitt Street, or via Castlereagh Street.

Update 29/3/96: Bill Bolton writing in newsgroup misc.transport.urban-transit described walking between Chinatown and Quay St and seeing that the plaza next to the Entertainment centre has a trackbed excavated for the westbound track. The concrete saw cuts are visible in the paving for what will be the excavation for the trackbed for the eastbound track.

Update 28/1/96: Chris Niall writing in newsgroup misc.transport.urban-transit described an article by Linda Morris in the 26th January 1996 Sydney Morning Herald. The article reported the opening ceremony performed by the Lord Mayor for the start of the new Ultimo to Pyrmont line. This will run from Central Station via Hay Street, Capitol Theatre, and Darling Harbour, terminating at the fish markets, near Glebe Island. A proposal to extend the system to Circular Quay and Leichhardt is expected to be presented to the State Government within two months.

Background: ABB has announced that its Dandenong, Melbourne plant will build eight light rail vehicles for the Pyrmont LRT line in Sydney. The cars will be based on the ABB low floor "Variotram" modular design. A version of this model delivered to Chemnitz was 31.38m long, 2.65m wide, and 3.23m high without pantograph, weighing 34.5 tonnes and seating 79 plus 132 standing. Eight 45 kW motors (total 360kW, or ~470 hp) gave a top speed of 70 km/h. For further information, see "Variotram: An ingenious low-floor modular design", Light Rail and Modern Tramway, Sep 1995, p. 289.

Matthew Geier's Sydney Light Rail Images

Updated 20th November 2019

Here can be found various pictures of the Sydney Light Rail network taken by Matthew Geier and others:

"This is the starting point for my Sydney Light Rail photo collection. There are a few 'promotional' type images in this folder, the various sub-folders containing related pictures. All work is copyright. Other peoples pictures are credited as such. Contact the owner of the work for other use." - Matthew Geier

This appears to be a mirror site for some of the above:

Matthew Geier maintains the Australian Railway Page

and the Sydney Light Rail archive (Pre - July 2015).
also at

Back to my Tram and Light Rail photos page