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The L1 Dulwich Hill Light Rail (formerly the Metro Light Rail) is a light rail line/service running through the inner west of Sydney. The line opened on 31 August 1997, mostly along the route of an unused goods railway line, to serve the redeveloped inner-city areas of Darling Harbour, Ultimo and Pyrmont, and was extended in 2000 to serve some of Sydney's inner western suburbs. The line was extended again in 2014 to Dulwich Hill. The line is owned by the NSW Government's Transport for NSW and operated by Transdev.

The line is currently served by 5-car Urbos 3 trams.

L1 Dulwich Hill Line icon

Route[]

Running from Central Railway Station to the inner western suburb of Lilyfield, the route extends for 7.2 kilometres (4.5 mi), including 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) of on-street operation.

Most of the alignment of the Metro Light Rail's Central to Lilyfield line had its origins as the Darling Harbour Goods Line. From the time when the Sydney Railway Company was formed in 1848, it had been the intention of the company to build a freight terminal at Darling Harbour. To this end, a railway line was constructed between the Sydney Railway Station (the predecessor to Central Railway Station) and Darling Harbour, which opened on 26 September 1855. This line was extended to Dulwich Hill via Lilyfield in 1922. With widespread use as a freight line throughout the early 20th century, the use of containers and the decentralisation of freight terminals in Sydney to places such as Port Botany and Chullora, Darling Harbour traffic was reduced considerably. The port was closed and the area redeveloped.

In 1994, the Sydney Light Rail Company was formed. Construction and conversion of the first section of line from Central station to Wentworth Park started on 25 January 1996 and took 16 months to complete. The line started at Railway Colonade, the former tram terminus at Central. The line then ran along Hay Street with stops at Capitol Square and Paddy's Market. After Paddy's Market, the line turned onto the former freight line and followed it all the way to Wentworth Park.

The route opened for public operation with a trial service on 11 August 1997 for three weeks of testing. The official public opening was conducted by the then Premier of New South Wales Bob Carr on 31 August. A full revenue service started the next day at 6am on Monday 1 September. Buoyed by the success of the original line the route was extended along the closed section of the goods line to Lilyfield. The extension was officially opened on Sunday 13 August 2000.

In 2009 goods traffic on the line between Rozelle and Dulwich Hill ceased and in February 2010 the NSW Labor Government announced the 5.6km extension of the light rail from Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill. Work to upgrade the track and remove the overhead wiring began in August 2010. The project received planning approval in February 2011. The extension was originally scheduled to open in 2012, but in September 2011 the newly elected Coalition Government announced that it would not open until 2014, and that the cost had risen from $120 million to $176 million. The Greenway walking and cycling path which was to run alongside much of the route was deferred. The Coalition blamed hasty planning by Labor for the delay and cost overruns, and the lack of an active transport masterplan for the deferral of the Greenway. John Holland Group was announced as the successful tenderer for the infrastructure works on 31 May 2012. The company designed and built the 9 stations, bridge works, signalling and power supply. The extension was estimated to be used by 3,105 boarding passengers per weekday by 2016 with 415 of those arriving by train and 460 arriving by bus.

NSW Government's Purchase[]

On Friday, 23 March 2012 it was announced that the state government had bought Metro Transport Sydney, the owner of Sydney's Light Rail and Monorail systems. The NSW Government says that this will allow them to face fewer obstacles in extending the network. The system is now run by Transdev on the behalf of the government.

In 2013, all modes of transport were rebranded to the unified 'The Hop' branding. Light rail was assigned the colour red. The Dulwich Hill Line was numbered L1 (as it was the only line at the time) and given the colour dark red. Accordingly, all new trams were given a red and white livery.

Timetable[]

Between 6am-11pm, all trams run the full length of the line from Central to Dulwich Hill. Outside of these times, a shuttle runs between The Star and Central (which is currently suspended due to COVID restrictions).

Service frequencies vary between 8-15 minutes, depending on the time of day. There is no public timetable available for the route, however realtime arrivals information is available on both online and on LED platform indicators. This information may be inaccurate for eastbound services near Dulwich Hill, as the system calculates times based on the current position of the next tram and trams usually dwell for a few minutes at Dulwich Hill. Service frequency will increase to every 6 minutes when more trams arrive in 2023.

Stations[]

Station Transfer Open
Central Grand Concourse Central station, Central Chalmers Street Light Rail station, and bus services 1997
Capitol Square 1997
Paddy's Markets 1997
Exhibition Centre 1997
Convention 1997
Pyrmont Bay Pyrmont Bay Wharf 1997
The Star Route 389 bus 1997
John Street Square Route 389 bus 1997
Fish Market Route 501 bus 1997
Wentworth Park 1997
Glebe Route 370/431 bus 2000
Jubilee Park 2000
Rozelle Bay Route 433 bus 2000
Lilyfield Route 470 bus 2000
Leichhardt North 2014
Hawthorne 2014
Marion Route 436/438 bus 2014
Taverners Hill Bus services on Parramatta Road 2014
Lewisham West Lewisham station 2014
Waratah Mills 2014
Arlington 2014
Dulwich Grove Bus services on Canterbury Road 2014
Dulwich Hill Dulwich Hill station 2014

Ticketing[]

The Metro Light Rail initially used its own ticketing system based on zones. Zone 1 was Central ↔ Convention and Zone 2 was Pyrmont Bay ↔ Dulwich Hill. Day and weekly tickets which also allow travel on the Metro Monorail were available. Initially ticket machines were installed at some stations. These were replaced at some point in the early 2000s with conductors onboard the trams, who issued tickets in the form of receipts.

On 27 June 2011, light rail was partially integrated into the broader Sydney ticketing system. A "TramLink" ticket, which allowed travel on light and heavy rail, was added. All MyMultis, the Pensioner Excursion Ticket and Family Funday Sunday were also. The integration led to a 30 to 40 percent increase in patronage on the line in the first months after introduction. All these tickets could not be purchased on light rail but could continue to be purchased at retailers and train stations. The older light rail only tickets were still valid and conductors were kept to issue these and to check other tickets.

Opal smartcard ticketing was enabled on light rail around the end of 2015. The Opal system charges by straight line trip distance, using the same fare table as buses. Card readers are located on platforms at all stations. As these readers can be confused with train station Opal readers at Central, they have a sticker on them that indicate that they are for the light rail only. On 1 August 2016, MyZone and light rail only tickets were phased out, making Opal the only payment method accepted and conductors redundant. Over time, Opal top-up (Phase 2) machines have been installed at some stations.

Infrastructure[]

Signalling[]

The line has its own signalling system, which is different to ones used by Sydney Trains and the other light rail lines. The signals are arranged in a triangular shape, similar to Sydney Trains shunt signals. The bottom two lights are red and the top one is white. This allows for three aspects:

  • White - Proceed
  • Red + White - Caution
  • Double red - Stop

There are different signals used at traffic lights, which are triggered by onboard transponders and use similar aspects to those for cars:

  • White T - Proceed
  • Amber T - Signal about to change to red, stop if possible
  • Red T - Stop

Track[]

The track is standard gauge (1435mm). All points on the line are railway standard and not tramway standard, as it is a converted railway line. Because of this, Citadis trams from the L2/3 lines are limited to 15km/h through all points. Due to other incompatibilities, they are not allowed on the line, except when travelling empty to Lilyfield Maintenance Centre.

The line is primarily double track, except for the two termini. The line ends in a single track loop at Central (Railway Colonade), while at the other end - Dulwich Hill, the line merges into one track for the last 200m. There are also various terminating facilities along the way:

  • Lewisham West (2 crossovers)
  • Lilyfield (2 crossovers)
  • Wentworth Park
  • John St Square
  • Exhibition Centre (crossover)

There are maintenance and stabling facilities at Exhibition Centre and Lilyfield.

Speed Signs[]

Fixed speed signs consist of white numbers on a blue sign, with a white outline (and a tram symbol for on-street sections). Speeds are shown in km/h. Speed limits can be as high as 70km/h, dropping to 10km/h for on-street sections and 20km/h around stations (as the level crossings do not have warning equipment).

There are also temporary speed restriction (TSR) signs, which have black numbers on a yellow sign, with a black dashed outline. These signs show temporary speed limits that must be followed just like a normal speed sign. The end of the TSR is shown by a similar sign that says 'END TSR'. Upon reaching this sign, trams can resume the previous fixed speed limit.

Overhead wiring[]

The trams are powered by overhead wires electrified at 750V DC for the entire route. The electrical system can sustain enough trams for a 6 minute service frequency.

Fleet[]

The line was originally run with a fleet of 7 Adtranz Variotrams. They were numbered from 2101-2107 as the last Sydney Tram was numbered 2087, so numbering restarted from the next hundred.

With the opening of the line to Dulwich Hill in 2014, 4 trams were leased. These were second hand Urbos 2 units, numbered 2108-2111, leased to cover the lack of rolling stock while the Urbos 3s were being built. They were returned to Spain by the end of 2014.

The Urbos 3s were ordered as additional rolling stock for the Dulwich Hill extension. At first, 6 units were ordered. These trams (numbered 2112-2118) entered service in July 2014. Another 6 units were ordered soon after, entering service in May 2015. With the introduction of these units, the Variotrams were withdrawn. Four extra units are currently being ordered, which will arrive around 2023.[1]

See also[]