A huge part of Sydney’s multi-billion dollar tram network will be out of action for over a year because of a significant design flaw.
A huge section of Sydney’s multi-billion dollar light rail network will be out of action for up to 18 months due to a “significant” design issue.
Twelve trams that service the city’s Inner West were found to have serious cracks and as a result were being decommissioned, NSW Transport Minister Rob Stokes announced on Friday.
“The cracking that was identified last week was more significant than first thought,” Mr Stokes told reporters.
He claimed an 18-month shutdown period was the “worst case scenario” and he expected the service to be up and running again before then.
Commuters have been given access to replacement buses on the L1 Dulwich Hill line between Central Grand Concourse and Dulwich Hill. According to Mr Stokes, the line was transporting 5000 passengers per day.
He was also investigating ways to make the commute as cheap as possible, given it was undoubtedly “frustrating for patrons”.
“I’ve asked Transport for NSW to look at what we can do to recognise that this is obviously frustrating for patrons,” he said.
Mr Stokes said the issue was understood to be a broader design problem, which he believed was also affecting fleets in other parts of the world.
“We believe it is a design flaw, the problem we’ve identified could be broader in scope than just in old Sydney town. It’s likely to be a global concern,” he said.
Domestic and overseas operators of the tram sets would be contacted by Transport for NSW about the issue.
The light rail network on Sydney’s Randwick and Kingsford lines is not affected by the cracking because the trams on those lines are a different model.
Announcement receives heavy backlash
NSW Shadow Minister for Transport Jo Haylen issued a scathing statement following Mr Stokes’ announcement, describing the situation as a “debacle”.
“The government’s transport procurement policies are now in tatters. Every single overseas-built tram the government bought has had to be decommissioned,” her statement read.
“An entire light rail line is now completely out of action. This will cost taxpayers millions of dollars. This is a debacle.”
She called on the government to “draw a line in the sand” with its transport infrastructure, citing other issues with Sydney’s trains and ferries.
Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne agreed it was a “major problem for our whole community”.
“I have now called for an extraordinary meeting of Council to address the disruption and will ask the Transport Minister to attend,” he said.