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Transport & Logistics

Why is light rail so attractive as a transport network?

16 Jan 2015, by Informa Insights

Graham Sibery is Executive Director, Rail Operations and Safety, Department of Transport and Infrastructure, SA. He will be speaking at the Light Rail Conference, 5-6 March 2015 in Sydney.

Watch this interview with Graham on why Light Rail is such an appealing alternative to other transport networks.


South Australia is one step ahead of much of the East Coast in that it has already been realising the benefits of a modern Light Rail network for some time. Will it be a focal point for developing urban transport networks into the future?

Yes, it will. In fact, we have a thirty year plan which proposes to extend Light Rail to very different locations in Adelaide. Now we can’t fund it all at the moment but we certainly have intentions to build on it! It has certainly helped with all of the events we have had at Adelaide Oval this year, which is obviously a new destination. So we will be building on it and there are plans to do that.

What are the main features of Light Rail that have really returned it to the forefront of urban transport planning?

Look, for a lot of people, Light Rail has a certain cachet. Light Rail seems a little upmarket. It seems attractive, modern, clean, and friendly.  People like a modern light rail system…so if you pick the right route that’s got the right kind of patronage and the right kind of distribution, it’s proven that Light Rail can get people out of their cars. Because not everyone wants to do that; not everyone wants to catch a bus. Yet people quite like to catch a tram.

Is there scope for the development of services outside of Adelaide or will it really only apply in high density urban environments?

Well in South Australia, once you get outside of Adelaide you’re into quite small towns. It probably doesn’t work there. It will work in medium sized towns if you get the right sort of patronage. But your best kind of opportunity is on routes that don’t get caught up in road traffic so it can maintain good journey times. If you can pick the right destinations and the right routes in the bigger cities, that’s where it has its biggest opportunity.

You will be addressing the ARA Light Rail conference in March 2015 which features international case studies. How does Australia rate in terms of the quality of its networks in operation?

Well first of all, it has the biggest network in the world in Melbourne – that has to be competitive. If you take the line we have in Adelaide, it is continuing to grow…the new line that’s been built on the Gold Coast is going pretty well. There is a propensity to use it in Australia. It’s competitive and I think it will go well and continue to go well.

View the agenda and book now for Light Rail 2015, 5-6 March at The InterContinental Hotel in Sydney.

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