Daytime testing of Sydney’s light rail network started on Wednesday, with New South Wales (NSW) State Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Transport Andrew Constance among the first passengers aboard the tram which travelled from Central Station to Circular Quay.
“This is an exciting day for Sydney with light rail vehicles making their way down the revitalized George Street,” Berejiklian said.
“This is just the start of daytime testing along the length of the line and we can expect to see a lot more of it ahead of customer services starting before the end of the year.”
She said the new network would move up to 13,500 commuters an hour during peak time, replacing the conga line of buses which used to sit in traffic on George Street.
Although Wednesday’s trial run was a huge success, the construction of the 2.7 billion Australian dollar (1.8 billion U.S. dollar) line has been plagued by controversy.
Originally set for completion in March 2019 after work began in 2015, the network is now scheduled to be finished midway through 2020.
This, coupled with major cost blowouts and a bitter legal battle that saw the NSW Transport Department shell out 576 million Australian dollars (388 million U.S. dollars) in compensation to Spanish construction firm Acciona, have all added to the network’s woes.
On top of this, the NSW government is also fighting off a 400 million Australian dollar (270 million U.S. dollar) class action lawsuit lodged by 150 business owners who have been brought to the brink of financial ruin from ongoing construction works which has disrupted their trade.
But despite the challenges, Berejiklian believes the trams which can carry 450 passengers along the entire 12.8 km route will all be “well worth it.”
“It’s going to change Sydney forever,” she said.