About the project
The CBD and South East Light Rail is a new light rail network for Sydney, currently under construction. The 12km route, featuring 19 stops, will extend from Circular Quay along George Street to Central Station, through Surry Hills to Moore Park, then to Randwick and Kingsford via Alison Road and Anzac Parade.
Services are due to start operating for customers in early 2019.
Light rail will provide high capacity, clean, frequent and reliable services connecting key CBD locations with Surry Hills, the Moore Park stadiums precinct, Randwick racecourse, the University of NSW and hospitals at Randwick.
The project will also create a one-kilometre pedestrian zone along George Street, between Hunter and Bathurst streets, helping George Street’s historic heart achieve its potential as one of the world’s premier boulevards. Light rail has proven all around the world to be a major catalyst for urban renewal and to improve urban amenity.
Benefits are explored further in our Light Rail Benefits factsheet
The route was designed to service major transport hubs, providing easy interchange with buses, trains, ferries and the Inner West Light Rail. With the ease of the Opal card and more public transport services than ever before, interchanging between services has never been more seamless.
Between 7am and 7pm (light rail’s 12-hour “peak period”), services will operate every four minutes in each direction between the CBD and Moore Park and every eight minutes along the Randwick and Kingsford branch lines. The system can grow to meet future demand by operating at increased frequency.
The 33-metre light rail vehicles will be coupled together to form 67-metre services, accommodating around 450 passengers – as many as up to nine standard buses. This means the new network will have the initial capacity to move up to 13,500 commuters per hour (6,750 in each direction) during peak times.
Sydney is growing, with its population set to increase by another one million people over the next 10 years. This will place greater demands on road, rail and bus networks. Many of those extra people will live in and around already busy urban areas, meaning new public transport services like the CBD and South East Light Rail and Sydney Metro are needed to support existing networks, providing more capacity and new connections to get customers where they want to go and reduce reliance on cars.
The existing transport system does not have sufficient capacity to accommodate the sheer volume of buses that converge on the CBD and inner Sydney on a daily basis.Current or future demand cannot be met simply by adding more buses to already congested roads. Anyone who travels from the South East knows the issues of reliability and traffic delays that can impact services.
Light rail is highly reliable, with 97 per cent of services arriving within two or three minutes of the timetable, and express bus services and some all-stops and cross-regional buses will complement light rail services to and from the city.
Light rail construction will cost $2.1 billion.
No. All public transport fares are set by Transport for NSW in accordance with advice from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). Transport for NSW collects and keeps all fare revenue.
This route was selected by the NSW Government following extensive feasibility investigations and consultation with key stakeholders. Transport for NSW considered a number of routes, based on the need for the light rail route to interchange with train, bus and ferry interchanges, serve key destinations and avoid both steep and narrow areas. The project received planning approval on 4 June 2014 and early works began in August 2014.
Underground systems deliver fewer stop locations and involve considerably greater expense.
Part of the old tramway currently acts as the existing bus roadway. The bus roadway will be retained during light rail operations to ensure maximum transport capacity both for day to day and special events. Light rail will use some of the previous tram corridor along the northern side of Alison Road.
Alternative north-south routes, such as Pitt Street, Castlereagh Street and Sussex Street, would be unable to accommodate light rail due to their narrow widths and multiple vehicle access points, such as driveways and delivery docks. George Street from Central to Circular Quay offers direct connection to retail, commercial and entertainment precincts, as well as Central, Town Hall, Wynyard and Circular Quay stations. George Street is also wider, has fewer driveways and offers the greatest potential for urban renewal within the CBD.
Transport for NSW considered the feasibility of a bus tunnel under George Street during initial consultation for the State Infrastructure Strategy. Not only were the cost, construction impact and economic feasibility considered to be unsupportable, but there were significant doubts about the ability to build the necessary infrastructure due to existing underground rail tunnels along the route.
Transport for NSW considered a number of light rail routes through Surry Hills to connect the CBD and South East. The Devonshire Street route provides a Surry Hills stop that ensures improved public transport accessibility to and from key residential, entertainment and recreational destinations in this precinct.
The Devonshire Street route option also provides a level of capacity that caters for current and future demand beyond that allowed by a tunnel under Surry Hills.
The original proposed Alison Road south side alignment was thoroughly investigated by Transport for NSW. There was insufficient space on Alison Road to install light rail on that side and safely maintain all necessary transport services during major events in the area.
The revised alignment on Alison Road improves access for customers north of Alison Road and those travelling to and from Randwick TAFE and Centennial Park. It prioritises ‘everyday access’ to the area ahead of casual event access and also offers improved pedestrian safety during special events by providing a new fully-signalised pedestrian crossing opposite Gate 1 of the Racecourse. This ensures safety and minimises conflicts between pedestrians, special event bus services and general road traffic.
The modification was released in 2014 and was put on public exhibition for consultation before being approved in February 2015 by the Minister for Planning.
The CBD and South East Light Rail will operate as part of a wider light rail network. To maximise service reliability, the networks will operate separately. Customers will be able to interchange between the two networks at Central Station or on George Street at Haymarket.
For full detail on stop locations, see our interactive map. The CBD and South East Light Rail stops will be at:
- Circular Quay (on Alfred Street near Pitt Street)
- Grosvenor Street (George Street south of Bridge Street)
- Wynyard (George Street between Hunter Street and Angel Place)
- Queen Victoria Building (George Street south of Market Street)
- Town Hall (George Street between Park Street and Bathurst Street)
- Chinatown (George Street near Campbell Street)
- Rawson Place (Rawson Place west of Pitt Street)
- Central Station (Chalmers Street between Eddy Avenue and Devonshire Street)
- Surry Hills (Devonshire Street at Ward Park, near Riley Street)
- Moore Park (opposite Sydney High north of Cleveland Street/Lang Road)
- Alison Road (north side of Alison Road west of Darley Road)
- Wansey Road (south side of Alison Road near Wansey Road)
- UNSW High Street (corner of High Street and Wansey Road)
- Randwick terminus (High Street west of intersection with Avoca Street)
- Carlton Street (Anzac Parade north of Kensington shops)
- Todman Avenue (Anzac Parade between Todman Avenue and Bowral Street)
- UNSW Anzac Parade (Anzac Parade at University Mall)
- Strachan Street (Anzac Parade at Kingsford shops)
- Kingsford terminus (Anzac Parade south of Nineways intersection)
The number and location of stops was determined through extensive planning and consultation. The project and stop catchment areas, and the impact to journey times of additional stops, were considered during this process.
The CBD and South East Light Rail will be designed, constructed, operated and maintained by a private operating company as part of a Public Private Partnership (PPP). The PPP contract was awarded to the ALTRAC Light Rail consortium, which includes Acciona, Alstom, Transdev and Capella Capital.
As the work in each zone is planned, local stakeholders will be notified in a number of ways:
- letterbox drops of notifications, within a 500m radius of the work zone;
- door knocks for local residents to highlight scope, timings and mitigation activities;
- advertisements on radio, online and in newspapers for major road closures;
- information on the Sydney Light Rail website and Facebook page.
Typical construction work in each zone could include:
- investigation works – involves surveying, locating services, testing utility pits and verifying condition of utilities such as electricity, gas, water and telecommunications;
- utility treatments – involves preparing, identifying, protecting and modifying electrical pits and water, gas and telecommunications services;
- track and civil works – involves excavating the road and combined services trench, constructing the track slab and laying of rails;
- drainage and footpath works – involves installing new storm-water drainage system and reconstruction of kerbs and footpaths;
- installation of stops, shelters and poles for lighting and overhead wires;
- commissioning and finishing works – including the testing of the light rail vehicles and landscaping.
Major construction includes excavation, extensive works relocating and protecting underground utilities, rebuilding roads and laying tracks. For more details check the latest work notifications.
Where possible, work will occur during the approved construction hours to minimise impacts. These are:
- 6am to 10pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm Saturday in the CBD
- 6am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm Saturday outside the CBD.
Generally, high noise impact work (such as jack hammering, rock breaking, cutting pavement, concrete or steel) will occur during the following hours:
- 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday
- 8am to 12pm on Saturdays.
Weekend and night works may take place in some circumstances. These include:
- where emergency work is required to avoid harm to people, property and/or the environment; or
- where there is delivery of oversized plant, equipment, materials or structures that police or other authorities require special arrangements for safety; or
- where a road occupancy licence can only be obtained for out-of-hours; or
- where works would cause unacceptable risks to construction personnel safety, public safety, road network operational performance and/or essential utility services.
In the event of weekend or night work, affected stakeholders will be notified in advance.
For urgent enquiries or complaints, call the 24-hour construction response line on 1800 775 465.
For project enquiries, call 1800 684 490 or email email@example.com.
Traffic and parking
A CBD Coordination Office was established prior to the start of major construction to manage traffic and transport arrangements. The Coordinator General is responsible for urgent and coordinated responses, oversight of traffic management plan approvals and the allocations of areas and times for parking, loading zones and taxi ranks.
Detailed traffic management plans have been developed for major roads to keep Sydney moving during construction. These plans include alternative traffic routes, clearly signposted and widely communicated, that will be established before the start of construction in each zone.
Access for local traffic, emergency vehicles and pedestrians will be maintained throughout construction and east-west crossings of George St will remain open to traffic.
Local traffic management plans will be developed and communicated in advance of all stages of construction and tailored to maximise access for business and residential deliveries and servicing.
Alternate routes and traffic management arrangements for construction areas are available on our interactive maps page.
The South East bus network will be redesigned to accompany the introduction of light rail. Details will be available once these changes have been finalised. Customers can be assured that the light rail has been designed to complement bus services, not replace them, and express and some all-stops and cross-city services will continue to operate.
The busway on Anzac Parade will be retained for day-to-day all-stops and express services from the South East to the city and major event services.
Transport for NSW is working with local councils and stakeholders to help develop alternative parking options.
Current options being considered include the reconfiguration and rezoning of parking on streets adjacent to the route and modifying parking permit schemes to cater for resident and business requirements by the Council.
Randwick City Council has agreed to build a multi-storey car park here in the future.
Yes – the bike and walking paths will be relocated near existing locations. There will be some impacts during construction but every effort will be made to minimise these and maintain where possible. What’s more, bike lockers will be provided at the Randwick and Kingsford terminus stops, with bike racks at other stops in the South east and Surry Hills.
Business and community
Business and community forums have been established to encourage dialogue between Transport for NSW, its contractors and businesses. These forums provide up-to-date information on the project, construction and potential impacts to the community and businesses. For more information, go to the business and community information page.
Support for small business along the light rail corridor is a high priority for the NSW Government to help businesses remain active and vibrant throughout the construction period.
Access to businesses and properties will be maintained during construction and operation of the new light rail service.
Transport for NSW is working with businesses to ensure they have the information and support they need to understand and adjust to the changes required during light rail construction.
The project’s Business Reference Group has been established as a consultative group to make recommendations on initiatives that would support businesses along the alignment through the construction period.
Business forums have been established in Sydney CBD, Surry Hills, Moore Park, Randwick, Kensington and Kingsford. These forums provide a regular opportunity for businesses to learn more about the project, its potential impacts and how they can best prepare for construction.
The Transport for NSW CBD Coordination Office has staff working with businesses along the light rail route, including through its Light Rail Activation Program which supports retailers in maintaining business activity in and around construction zones.'
As part of the Small Biz Connect Program run by the NSW Small Business Commissioner, two independent business advisors will provide practical face-to-face and group advisory support to small businesses along the Light Rail route from the Sydney CBD to Randwick and Kingsford.
Travel Choices is a travel demand management program implemented by Transport for NSW in October 2015, ahead of major construction of the CBD and South East Light Rail. It offers businesses a free, dedicated resource to help them prepare for changes to the transport and road network, and shift to more sustainable ways of moving around the CBD.
The program is focused on the four Rs – ‘reduce’ peak hour car travel by asking drivers to ‘retime, remode or reroute’ their journeys.
Hundreds of CBD employers are already using the TravelChoices program to help their suppliers and staff make their way efficiently to and from the city, maximising their productivity and reducing the frustration of peak hour congestion.
For more information, go to the Travel Choices page on the My Sydney website.
Light rail is an environmentally-focused mode of transport that will reduce greenhouse gases and noise pollution to provide clean, efficient travel. It will provide a sustainable public transport option to customers who live, work and travel within the CBD and South East, easing the pressure on Sydney’s roads by reducing the city’s reliance on cars and buses.
Among its environmental credentials:
- Over 30 years, our project reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 663,000 tonnes by reducing bus and car use.
- Light rail uses 10 times less energy than a car, per passenger kilometre.
- The Alstom light rail vehicles will be 99 per cent recyclable at the end of their lifespan.
ALTRAC Light Rail employs a professional ecologist to ensure best practice for identifying and relocating fauna during construction. Each identified habitat tree to be removed or pruned is surveyed by the project ecologist before work starts to identify whether there may be wildlife residing. If any wildlife is found, they are encouraged to relocate on their own or are relocated by the ecologist. Any animals requiring additional care are taken to a veterinary surgeon for assessment and may be a passed on to a wildlife carer for ongoing care.
No. The vast majority of Moreton Bay Figs on Anzac Parade will stay.
Of the 112 Moreton Bay Figs identified along the route, 81 will be retained with some to be pruned. Only 23 have been removed or are scheduled for removal in major construction, with another eight being investigated for relocation.
The loss of any tree is a disappointment but Anzac Parade will retain its traditional character while gaining environmentally sustainable and reliable light rail services.
Trees are classified not by age but on their level of maturity and health – young, semi-mature, mature and over-mature. Trees have varying life spans and age in years is not always the most critical factor. A number of large figs for instance are already in the final chapter of their life.
More than 120 trees have been saved compared to the original EIS – about 60 that will stay in their current locations along Alison Road and at High Cross Park and another 70 from Anzac Parade, Alison Road and Wansey Road being relocated and replanted nearby the light rail route and elsewhere in the local area. Where a replanting location has not yet been determined, trees are placed in a nursery to be cared for.
The Tree Report identifies a number of trees that may be suitable for replanting. Where practical, Transport for NSW will look to relocate trees within the alignment. Other trees that can’t be replanted within the alignment will be replanted nearby in consultation with the land owner.. Retaining as many trees as possible has and always will be a high priority. ALTRAC and Transport for NSW will continue on a tree-by-tree basis to look at ways to save as many trees as is practical throughout the design and construction process.
An extensive Revegetation Compensation Package is in place as part of the project conditions of approval. Our aim is to replant as close as possible to the location of the removed trees, in liaison with local councils and the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust.
Replacement trees will be of high quality stock and will generally be around 3-4 metres high, depending on the species, and with a root base of 200 litres.
The species, size and location of trees will be agreed with the landowner. ALTRAC Light Rail is required to maintain and ensure the growth and survival of new trees over a number of years.
- 8 trees for every large tree removed
- 4 trees for every medium tree
- 2 trees for every small tree.
More than 1,800 new trees are expected to be planted as part of the project with the species of tree determined in association with the local council or the Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust. Almost 900 of these trees will be along the light rail alignment, while the remainder will be planted within the affected local government areas. New tree planting will take place once major construction is complete in each zone to ensure new trees don’t impact construction or operation of the line.