https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/fir ... 523oj.html
'First time in half century': Most striking feature of Sydney's new trams
By Matt O'Sullivan
July 3, 2019 — 3.14pm
What is most striking about one of Sydney's new trams, parked alongside St Andrew's Cathedral and Town Hall in the heart of Sydney's CBD, is its length.
At 67 metres from end to end, the trams, due to start carrying passengers along George Street from Circular Quay to Randwick by the first week of December, are among the longest in the world.
A new 67-metre tram parked at Town Hall on Wednesday.
A new 67-metre tram parked at Town Hall on Wednesday.Credit:Brook Mitchel
While pedestrians wondered about their size, the logic of pairing two trams to form 67-metre sets capable of carrying up to 450 passengers is that they will be able to move more people more quickly and avoid a conga line of single-set trams from forming at intersections.
Cost blowouts, repeated delays to construction, legal disputes and major disruption to businesses and residents along the 12.7-kilometre length of the line have dogged the project over the past three years, causing political headaches for the state government.
But with testing of trams along George Street set to ramp up, Premier Gladys Berejiklian declared on Wednesday that the "light at the end of the light rail project is here".
Asked whether the new line was worth its cost of nearly $3 billion, Ms Berejiklian said its value would become evident once people began travelling on it by the end of the year.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Transport Minister Andrew Constance inspect a tram parked at Town Hall.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Transport Minister Andrew Constance inspect a tram parked at Town Hall.Credit:Brook Mitchell
"To build this project in the heart of the busiest street in the nation hasn't been without its challenges but I'm really, really positive about the outcome," she said.
"Hopefully in many decades to come, people will look back and think, 'Wow, that was visionary public policy.' We haven't seen the sight of this for at least half a century."
Day-time testing of trams from Randwick to Town Hall will begin within the next few weeks. By the end of next month, trams will be tested at night on the rest of the line along George Street to Circular Quay, and day-time testing will occur several weeks later.
Epping resident Judy Craig grew up travelling on trams in Sydney before what was one of the largest tram networks in the world was torn up in the 1950s and early '60s. She misses their character, atmosphere and familiar clanging noises as they traversed the city.
How Sydney's carriages measure up.
How Sydney's carriages measure up. Credit: Graphic: Remi Bianchi
"It looks like a people mover and not something you would go on to get a pleasant ride around Sydney in," she said of the new tram parked at Town Hall on Wednesday.
"But I do hope it works – they have gone to so much trouble. If it is going to get people home quicker, then it is good."
Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the light rail project would make George Street "one of the true great boulevards of the world", resulting in a kilometre-long pedestrian zone and removing what had previously been a street full of buses.
While the line from Randwick is due to open in December, trams are not expected to begin carrying passengers along a branch line to Kingsford until March next year.
Day-time testing of the trams to Town Hall will start in the next few weeks.
Day-time testing of the trams to Town Hall will start in the next few weeks. Credit:Brook Mitchell
Travel times for commuters going from one end of the line to the other has been estimated at between 34 and 38 minutes.
But the actual journey time will not be determined until October or November, after traffic lights at intersections are tweaked during the testing phase. Trams will get priority over motorists at traffic lights to ensure the former meet their travel times.
Transport for NSW co-ordinator Marg Prendergast doubted motorists and pedestrians would notice much difference in their waiting times at intersections following the start of tram services.
"We are going to be moving the tram with the pedestrians crossing [street intersections] ... and it will move through quicker than the pedestrians," she said.
"It's a bit of a myth that [the trams are] going to tail out and take ages through an intersection."
The two-set trams will operate between 5am and 1am when the line is opened to regular passenger services in December. Fares for trips on the line will be announced closer to the start of services.