Winter Reading

Trams: Rebuilding what was lost

Sydney had one of the world’s largest and most used urban public transport systems. Mathew Hounsell explores Sydney’s old tram system and looks at what inner city councils are interested in resurrecting.

In 1945, the NSW Government op­erated the city’s urban transport network as 291 kilometres of sur­face light rail that served 405 million passengers a year, all while making a profit.

The history of Sydney’s light rail is a fascinating one. Sydney’s first trams were horse drawn, and later cable cars were introduced along the North Sydney line. It was the flexibility and reliability of electric trams that allowed the tram system to take off and saw the first electric power plants built in Sydney, with spare capac­ity for businesses and homes. The network expanded a few kilometres at a time, like a growing tree, except in some circumstances where powerful politicians decided a tram would improve their local streets.

Mathew Hounsell

Read the whole thing in the Inner West Voice.

How does public transport stack up against motorways?

Regardless of how it is financed, all infrastructure is paid for by NSW residents , through either fees or taxes. So we deserve to know whether the government is prioritising projects that give us the greatest bang for our buck, writes Mathew Hounsell.

To move 24,000 people in an hour takes twenty double-deck trains, 100 light rail vehicles, 240 bendy-buses or a ten lane toll road.

The NSW and Commonwealth governments plan to spend $1.26 billion to build a 14 kilometre motorway from the M7 to the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek [1]. A six lane motorway could carry up to 7,200 persons an hour to the new employment centre of Western Sydney at a cost of $90 million per kilometre. Transurban, the remaining Sydney toll road operator, plans to build NorthConnex, a twin three lane, nine kilometre, motorway tunnel for $3 billion – $333 million a kilometre. The proposed WestConnex motorway is estimated to cost at least $15 billion [2].

That 7,200 hourly capacity looks feeble when compared to rail. For example, the Moreton Bay Rail Link (Commonweath and Queensland governments) is costing $1.15 billion [3]. It’s a 12.6 kilometre railway with six stations and twenty-two bridges, most over roads. With modern signalling one such two-track rail line can carry between 36,000 persons an hour, or 48,000 if you’re as ambitious and competent as the French.

Mathew Hounsel

Read the whole thing in the Inner West Voice.

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