Sydney’s much-anticipated Inner West Light Rail extension finally opened for service on March 27, with key government and industry figures commending the immense impact it will have on the city’s public transport infrastructure.
The Inner West Light Rail project, an investment valued at around $176 million, will extend the capacity of the existing rail service linking Central to Lilyfield. It comprises a total of nine new stations, spanning the 5.6 kilometres from Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill.
After a series of initial vehicle tests were conducted in late February, the extension is now up and running and ready for public service.
“Together with other major transport infrastructure projects including the North West Rail Link, South West Rail Link and the CBD and South East Light Rail, we are getting on with the job and building infrastructure for the future,” NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said at the extension’s opening.
“The benefits of this project are broader than for just those in the Inner West. Getting cars off the road is a benefit for everyone commuting into the city from Western Sydney.”
Bryan Nye, CEO of the Australasian Railway Association, also lauded the opening of the extension and said it would benefit more than just those who travel by rail.
“One light rail car in Sydney can move up to 9,000 people an hour in each direction and has the capacity to move up to 300 people per vehicle, compared to a bendy bus which can move up to only 100 people,” he explained.
“This decrease in congestion will see all Sydneysiders benefit from this investment, whether they travel by the new light rail system or not.”
However, he stressed that this was only the beginning and he expected many more similar projects in Australia in the future. According to Mr Nye, Australia is “playing catch up” to other countries in terms of expanding its light rail services.
For example, he noted that France has been a pioneer in the light rail space, multiplying its tramways’ total route mileage by five times over the past 12 years.
In order for Australia to be on a par with such countries, it is essential that its rail sector receives the attention and investment it needs.