Sydney Looks at Closing Downtown Streets to Traffic, Considers Light Rail Expansion

Sydney Light Rail Extension Plan

» George Street in the CBD would see cars removed, transit inserted. Meanwhile, with Metro plans now axed, light rail to the Inner West is being pursued.

Following what is becoming a worldwide trend, officials in Australia’s New South Wales government, working with the Sydney city council, are considering plans to pedestrianize George Street, a primary corridor in the city’s central business district. The proposal, which has yet to be fully detailed, may also include a light rail connection along the route. The scheme coincides with the government’s release of a draft study detailing a potential extension of the 4.5-mile existing light rail line southwest to Lewisham and Dulwich Hill.

This plan for the elimination of automobiles from one of Sydney’s most prominent streets has yet to be approved and may be dismantled if the current government falls out of power after elections later this year.

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Sydney Metro Project Wavers as Light Rail Expansion Gains Supporters

» The creation of a single line would produce an underused system for decades to come; extensions of the existing network may be a better option.

Few places in the world are as reliant on their commuter rail systems as Sydney; the Australian metropolis’ CityRail attracts more than one million daily passengers. The almost 1,300 miles of track the system includes provide for the transportation needs of most of the rail transit users in the city, though a light rail line that opened in 1997 and which now has 4.5 miles of service provides some connections to the Inner West parts of the city. A monorail loop links the light rail to Market Street, midway up the CBD peninsula.

A traditional metro system has long been considered for the city, not only to relieve congestion on the CityRail network downtown but also

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Sydney CBD Metro Faces Stumbling Block

Terminating all western train services at Central Station won’t be as easy as originally imagined

The Sydney CBD Metro project, which will provide train services from Balmain west of downtown, through the center city, and then south to Central Train Station, is in trouble because of a lack of coordination between the metro authority and the regional rail provider, CityRail. The project’s requirements would unduly overcrowd the platforms at Central and make existing CityRail operation no longer feasible. The Metro project plan must be revised before shovels are put into the ground next year.

Original plans for the 4.8 billion dollar (Australian) project, expected to be completed by 2015, would have required all Western suburban CityRail services to terminate at Central, rather than continue into the city core along the City Circle, as currently. Suburban trains are overcrowded and the Metro would provide much-needed relief. But it would

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Kansas City Abandons Light Rail; Australian Rapid Transit Projects In Development

Kansas City abandons light rail for regional commuter system

In November, Kansas City voters abandoned hope for a light rail system by a 44-56% margin. There had been several efforts over the past few years to build a variety of lines, led by community organizer Clay Chastain, who in 2006 won an endorsement from voters for a 27-mile rail system to run throughout the city. In 2008, however, the city council decided on a $1 billion 14-mile north-south line (shown in the plan to the right) that would be sponsored by a 3/8¢ sales tax; voters obviously weren’t interested.

But now the area’s Regional Transit Alliance has decided to replace its light rail plan with a commuter rail system that would run using diesel locomotives on existing tracks. The Kansas City Star reports that Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders sees the commuter rail system as more ambitious

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by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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