Light rail 18-month shutdown: inner west locals furious

SHUTDOWN: The extent of cracking on the inner west light rail fleet is
SHUTDOWN: The extent of cracking on the inner west light rail fleet is "more significant that first thought".

Inner west locals are furious following the announcement the L1 light rail line which runs services between Dulwich Hill and the city could be out of action for up to 18 months.

Last week, cracking was identified in all 12 vehicles on the inner west light rail line meaning all services were replaced with buses. But Transport Minister Rob Stokes today revealed the extent of the cracking was "more significant than first thought".

"Inner west light rail fleet will be decommissioned for up to 18 months while the issues identified are rectified," Mr Stokes said.

"I want to stress this is the worst-case scenario."

They bought trains that don't fit the tracks, ferries that can't fit under bridges or operate at night, and an entire fleet of trams that simply don't work.

Labor MP Jo Haylen

The damage, including cracks up to 30cm long on the wheel arches, was found during routine maintenance by Transport for NSW. Chief operations officer Howard Collins visited the Lilyfield depot this morning to understand the scope of the damage discovered.

He said the trams were not currently unsafe but if the cracking spread further it "could be an issue".

For those living in Sydney's inner west the extended loss of the light rail line will cause major disruption, especially as people slowly return to their offices in the CBD post-pandemic.

NSW Shadow Minister for Transport and member for Summer Hill Jo Haylen called the situation a "debacle" and said it would cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

'WORST-CASE SCENARIO': Transport Minister Rob Stokes. Picture: Simone de Peak

'WORST-CASE SCENARIO': Transport Minister Rob Stokes. Picture: Simone de Peak

"The Government's transport procurement policies are now in tatters. Every single overseas built tram the Government bought has had to be decommissioned," she said.

"It's time for the Government to draw a line in the sand. They bought trains that don't fit the tracks, ferries that can't fit under bridges or operate at night, and an entire fleet of trams that simply don't work. It's time we started building transport infrastructure right here in Australia again so we can get a quality product and value for money."

Member for Balmain Jamie Parker questioned why the NSW Government had built the L2 Randwick and L3 Kingsford lines in a way which made the vehicles incompatible with the L1 line.

They still have no spare vehicles and have built Sydney's light rail network so trams on one line don't work on another.

Greens MP Jamie Parker

"We've been calling on the government to add vehicles to this fleet for years," he said.

"They still have no spare vehicles and have built Sydney's light rail network so trams on one line don't work on another. "

Inner west mayor Rochelle Porteous said the situation is "deplorable".

"The inner west is paying the price of foolish decisions made by the Coalition Government which have been more focused on privatising the route than delivering a safe, integrated and reliable light rail service," she said.

"Our residents - commuters and school children who would normally be on light rail travelling up to 80 kilometres per hour within its own right of way - will now be on buses compounded by WestConnex and Metro West construction."

Former inner west mayor Darcy Byrne agreed it was a "major problem" and said he has "called for an extraordinary meeting of Council to address the disruption and will ask the NSW Transport Minister to attend".

Mr Stokes said the cracking on the vehicles is a design flaw in the model of tram and could be a global issue. Transport for NSW will contact operators of the tram sets, both in Australia and abroad, about the issue.

"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," Mr Stokes said

Mr Stokes said there are around 5000 people already using the replacement bus services each day.

He said he was in talks with Transport for NSW to make the service "as cheap as possible" for affected commuters and to "look at what we can do to recognise that this is obviously frustrating for patrons".

Have something to say? Send a letter to the editor at: editor@innerwestreview.com.au

Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: