Sydney light rail passes peak-hour test

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance says Sydney's light rail will become faster.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance says Sydney's light rail will become faster.

The NSW transport minister has defended travel times on Sydney's new light rail after the $2.9 billion network passed its first peak-hour test

Andrew Constance insists Sydney's new CBD and southeast light rail - which has been criticised for being slow - will become quicker as the network is "bedded in".

The minister on Monday said the light rail had performed well and without incident during its first peak-hour run.

"We ran it around 45 to 48 minutes today (from Randwick to Circular Quay) and it'll only get better over the next six months," he told reporters in Sydney.

"The aim here is to try and get it as close to 40 minutes as we can. It's a network that's got to be bedded in, a lot of busy intersections, a busy city, and that's what's being worked towards."

The network took its first passengers on Saturday and the opening weekend was not without hiccups.

A breakdown just hours into the opening saw services out of action for some 40 minutes after a tram stopped at a bend in the track just before 2pm, blocking lines in both directions.

The technical issue was caused by a power module and was compounded by someone pushing the emergency handle in a bid to get off the tram.

As the network took its first paying commuters on Monday morning, there were complaints that the trams took longer to get people into the city than buses.

One commuter tweeted that his journey had taken twice as long but another commented it was a "much nicer route".

Opposition transport spokesman Chris Minns said it was quicker to catch the train into the city from Penrith than it was to catch the light rail into the city from Randwick.

"When $3 billion has been spent, which is double what was promised, for a significantly slower journey time, value has not been delivered for NSW taxpayers," he said in a statement on Monday.

But Mr Constance said the government had never said the light rail was going to be the fastest mode of transport.

He said people wouldn't necessarily catch trams from one end to the other and it was about connecting precinct to precinct.

"It's part of an integrated transport option for people across the eastern suburbs and here in the heart of the CBD," he said.

"It's going to offer people more options to get into various parts of the city from the east and that's a good thing"

The tram service carried 115,000 passengers well before close on its opening weekend, and had hosted about 15,000 commuters as of 2.30pm on Monday.

Brian Brennan, chief officer of light rail operations at Transdev, said "Sydney is again taking to light rail".

"The excitement and the buzz that's been on the trams, I've been travelling on them for three or four hours today along with my staff, and it's fantastic," he told reporters on Monday.

Australian Associated Press