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When most people think of Australia, then it is not light rail systems, but kangaroos and unpredictable weather. Also, most of the people from Europe know it more and more because this country been participating in the Eurovision Song Contest since 2016. But this article is not about any song contest or animals. It is all about The Reincarnation of Light Rail systems in Australia.
So, bring a cup of tea and cookies. Because Australia is getting transformed for the better with new and improved light rail networks all over the country. Here is our look at the 5 new light rail systems in Australia. Most of them are new, while others use new light rail trains.
Let’s go to Australia and find those light rails for you.
Light Rail Adelaide
In the southernmost area of Australia, Adelaide is a huge city with its 1,345,777 million inhabitants. It is actually quite big and so it deserves to have great public transportation that must serve the entire city.
The system in Adelaide consists of a light rail system, a quite ok local train network, and buses. But the network size of the light rail network should have been much bigger.
- Opened in 1873
- 3 light rail lines operate
- Runs to Glenelg suburb
- Connects with the central train station
In fact, many European cities with the same amount of population in the world cover the entire city with at least a Metro, a light rail or something combined. So it is a fact that Adelaide isn’t the worst one in Australia at all. The city is much more covered than other cities in the country. So, that is a good thing.
Adelaide got Light Rail since 1873
Since the 4th of August 1873. The Glenelg light rail route has been running between Adelaide and Glenelg. First, it was operated as a steam railway (including the street running sections at both ends of the line). Then the Glenelg line was converted to tramway operation in 1929.
Today it runs mostly on its own right-of-way and is seen as a modern light rail line, which means that it doesn’t get stuck in any traffic jam. But this is not the chase for the entire route as on there are some sections that are different.
One two of the sections that differ. The first one is through Adelaide city center, which is part of the northern extension part that opened on the 14th of October 2007 which is 1.6 kilometers long. The other section that differs is that the service runs on a reserved lane and in Glenelg town center where it actually meets car traffic.
A further 2.8 kilometer was then extended for the northwestern extension of the line along Port Road to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. This section opened on the 22nd of March 2010.
Then the City Tram Extension along North Terrace to East End with three stops, plus a short spur to Festival Plaza opened on the 13th of October 2018. The light rail system in Adelaide has slowly been upgraded since 2007 and is still getting further expansions. Which is a positive thing? Adelaide needs this service to cover the entire city.
Lots of Comfort with Alstom Citadis from Madrid, Spain
I really recommend this line for anyone that loves to see interesting new light rail systems in the world. The entire light rail system uses Bombardier Flexity Classic low-floor cars and Alstom Citadis from Madrid in Europe on the system.
All of them are low floors so anyone can use them. So all of them are compatible with people using strollers and wheelchairs. When a system supports all types of people the whole atmosphere in any city changes. The dignity of people is what’s important to preserve.
But I must ask why the light rail slowdowns happen even on straight stretches?
Recommended Adelaide Destinations
With the light rail in Adelaide, you can reach Glenelg which is a beach-side suburb of Adelaide. Located on the shore of Holdfast Bay in Gulf St Vincent, it has become a tourist destination due to its beach and many attractions, home to several hotels and dozens of restaurants.
The mainline inside Adelaide can take you to the stunning Botanic Garden in the city too. So if you visit this town and want to see some exotic plants and smell fresh air then this is a very good choice.
So if you are tired of city life and want to go somewhere quick to see something else. Including Glenelg, there are areas that you can check out. You can also visit Kangaroo Island which is Australia’s third-largest island, after Tasmania and Melville Island. SeaLink operates the ferry service between mainland South Australia and Kangaroo Island. Each crossing takes approximately 45 minutes.
For getting the ferry there is a bus service linking Adelaide with Cape Jervis.
The route of this Glenelg light rail line is 26 stops. So the trip takes about 40 minutes from the city center of Adelaide. But it is worth it for light rail enthusiasts and for those that want to experience a nice ride.
Light Rail in Adelaide Fare, Ticket and Price info
All of the passengers in Glenelg, Australia can take the light rail line for free between Moseley Square and Brighton Road. But in all other places people need to pay.
Just don’t get caught without a ticket here. A standard fine of $220 applies with a maximum penalty of $1.250. So make sure that you have a valid ticket at all times when taking public transportation in the area.
A very positive thing in Adelaide is that the MetroTicket or metroCARD fare is valid for two hours from the first validation and you can use it on bus, tram or train as many times in those two hours. Unless you have a seniors metroCARD which you validated in the free period prior then try to transfer onto another service after the free period has ended.
For more vital information about the tickets and routes for other types of Public Transportation systems such as buses and trains can be in Adelaide. Please do check out Adelaide Metro Transport website which contains anything that you need about where to buy and everything about the prices. There is also a very nice FAQ page about Everything you need to know.
Light Rail Canberra
- Opened in 2019
- 1 light rail line
- Doesn’t reach the central station
Even though it is the capital of Australia. This is not the biggest city in Australia at all. It is a town with about 420.960 in population. But it is one of the most important cities in Australia. So it is very important that this city expands its light rail network soon.
The introduction of light rail service is something that Canberra should have done many years ago.
Just take a look at Den Haag in the Netherlands, Karlsruhe in Germany or even the new light rail system in Nice, France on how to cover most of the cities with about 500.000 in population almost everywhere.
All railway systems should connect to each other no matter what. So, it is very important to extend this line to the main train station in Canberra. Also, expand it to every corner of the city. In fact, all of the R lines on the official map that you can check out here are worthy to be converted to light rail service.
Light Rail Service since 2019 in Canberra
The Canberra Light Rail opened to the public on the 20th of April 2019. It is a modern light rail with the latest light rail trains running on not so old tracks at all. It is a system with 13 stops and is in total 12 km in length.
The fantastic CAF Urbos 3 is used in Canberra
All of the trams in Canberra are from CAF. It is the same company that has manufactured light rail tram-trains for Utrecht in the Netherlands, Port Louis in Mauritius and also soon in Lund, Sweden to name a few.
These types of light rail trains look really nice, and they got a great engine that gives a nice little speed kick feeling when they accelerate and stop. Oslo in Norway will also have a version too of them and they seem to be really comfortable to ride.
The CAF model is a Urbos 3 is the model used in Canberra. This stylish looking light rail tram-train got a very nice design to them looking like a real hybrid between a tram and a metro. The red color theme on them is also looking great. But I need to ask why they’ve already got full-sized ads on them? It’s not looking good! Destroys the image a bit.
Recommended destinations in Canberra
Canberra is a city that offers a great diversity of attractions and experiences all within close proximity to accommodation and transport. There are things to do for solo travelers, couples, families, and groups.
Canberra is an Australian city that has something to appeal to the curious, adventurous, foodie or explorer within us all. With the expansion of the light rail. All of the towns will be more accessible to all kinds of people. Also traveling green is the fashion now. We should all be thinking of saving our planet.
At the Australian National Collection, you can explore significant culture, art, and history throughout our museums, galleries, and archives. You can discover embassies, landmarks, markets, shopping, food, and wine in the town too.
Light Rail in Canberra Fare, Ticket and Price info
If traveling on the Light Rail you can purchase a cash ticket at the Ticket Vending Machines located on all light rail platforms. There is also a FREE transfer for 90 minutes for the cheapest single ticket price.
However, the town does have a default fare that will be charged if users don’t tap off when leaving the public transportation they are using. Eligible passengers must carry proof of concession. This is something that many cities in Europe also doing. But why is this done at all? In Oslo, Norway people just buy once and then tap. That’s it.
By having such a system I think that you force people into giving the company information. It should be enough to just tap once when a person has bought a ticket.
I don’t know how it is in Canberra, but in Amsterdam when we visited the tap to check out system meant that lots of people get stuck together in the rush hours which delays the tram a lot. Why is Transport Canberra doing this to people traveling? One tap to activate the ticket should be enough!
For more vital information about the tickets and routes for other types of Public Transportation systems in Canberra such as buses and trains can be found on Transport Canberra site
Light Rail Sydney
Sydney is a gigantic city with 5.2 million people. That’s entire Norway in Europe. So this city should have public transportation that is reaching all parts of the town. And it does.
Including having a totally new light rail tram route opened. Sydney also boasts another light rail route, metro, and local train.
- Opened in 1997
- 2 light rail lines
- Connects with the central train station
Once Sydney had a monorail which the city was known for. But they chose to tear it down which I never understood the reason as it was an icon!
I should have mentioned Melbourne in this article but because of their system can be classified as a classic tram network only. It’s not related.
If a tram runs more than 88 percent on its own then it is a light rail I say. If a tram runs mostly on the street level together with cars I rate it as a tram even though I know there are suburban trams like the one in northern Belgium. Often these tram lines use smaller trains than the light rail ones.
Light Rail Service since 1997 in Sydney
On the 11th of August 1997, a new kind of transport method was added to Sydney. The very first light rail line was L1 between Central Station and Wentworth Park. That line is 7.2 km in total length.
Then on the 14th of December of 2019, the Light Rail L2 line was finally opened. The Kingsford branch as L3 will open in 2020 and L4 in 2023. L2 runs southeast and bypasses Randwick Racecourse.
Awesome CAF Urbos 5 is used on L2 in Sydney
As with the Canberra light rail. Sydney also has got CAF trams from Spain but this type is from the CAF Urbos 5 series which got a bit different nose and style to them.
The L2 light rail trains have also red color but with a bit different types of colors. Their nose is a bit different but other than that they are completely the same. The dark parts are too dark. It is not bad but the white stripes that are on the Canberra look much better in my opinion.
Many have been complaining about the slow trams. I have seen lots of videos like the one below here from Sydney and must agree. Like within Adelaide. It seems as if someone for every turnout they slow down a lot. This even happens if its a straight railway route.
Any light rail is supposed to handle switches and turnouts without having to slow down to walking speed. This is irritating as you can see from several towns in Europe that this is not an issue at all. Maybe the public transportation company has got special instructions or because the tracks are new that they need to be used a lot before they allow higher speeds?
Recommended destinations in Sydney
Sydney is best known for its harbor front Sydney Opera House, with a distinctive sail-like design. You can reach it by taking L2 to Circular Quay and walk about 600 meters.
Massive Darling Harbour and the smaller Circular Quay port are hubs of waterside life, with the arched Harbour Bridge and esteemed Royal Botanic Garden nearby. Sydney Tower’s outdoor platform is not far away and the Skywalk offers 360-degree views of the city and suburbs.
So any light rail enthusiasts or people just coming to Sydney have lots of options at Circular Quay station where you want to go.
Amazing Parks in Sydney awaits your visit with L2
With L2 you can reach several destinations such as Moore Park Golf, Moore Park, Randwick Racecourse and the beautiful Centennial Park where you can experience Park Labyrinth which is said to be a very nice place. People that I have asked says that there is amazing architecture there.
My friend from Sydney says that in this area it is very nice in the morning if you are going for a jog, and in the evening if you are taking a stroll past and throughout this area. Very meat and tidy place. Got a magical dreamy feeling … With the new L2 light rail line with full support for strollers and even people with wheelchair then this park is more accessible than ever.
Sydney is a very spacious city even though the city center is dense. The number of parks is a lot. I recommend you check them out if you love visiting them. Relax, take your family with you or just breathe fresh air. It’s fantastic.
Light Rail Sydney Fare, Ticket and Price info
It seems that Sydney got the very same tap on and off the system as in Canberra. Opal is the name of the smart card ticketing system that is used to pay for travel on public transport in Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, the Hunter, and the Illawarra.
You can add value before you travel and tap on and off to pay your fare. So be aware. Do tap before you go off. This system is not just silly but it makes much more stress for the travelers. This system must be stressful for people with strollers, bikes or for those using wheelchairs too. I don’t understand why its in use?
Trips that include transfers between Sydney Metro, Sydney Trains and/or NSW TrainLink Intercity services are considered a continuous journey. So then you don’t need to tap off and on again between services, and you’ll be charged a single fare. But that doesn’t change my mind about the tap system which is just annoying yet it is something that you as a traveler needs to do when you travel in Sydney.
If you don’t tap when leaving the public transportation systems you risk in getting charged a lot more. So be aware! You are supposed to get people to want travel in a green way, not scare them away. So, please reconsider this tap on and off system.
For more information about the tickets and routes for other types of Public Transportation systems in the gigantic Sydney city such as buses and trains can be found on NSW Government Light Rail page, Sydney Light Rail site and on the Sydney Metro site
Light Rail Newcastle
- Opened in 2019
- 1 light rail line
- Connects with the central station
This Newcastle town is not in the United Kingdom but in Australia. Also, it is a much smaller town with its 310,000 inhabitants. It is located some 160 km northeast of Sydney with a very new light rail system that is quite remarkable.
But the question is if the price tag for building this new overhead less system is something that can be expanded and loved by you and me.
Let’s just hope that the public transport company in Newcastle expands it so it won’t end in loss.
This light rail system is very interesting as it got a new system. So maybe its good to test it out on a stretch with only 6 stations.
The entire line very short but none of the sections uses overhead power at all. So these trams are all powered by capacitors. Not even batteries are used.
With this technique, the layout doesn’t need any power lines. But it’s weakness is that it needs to be charged at every station. So, maybe the Sydney solution would have been a better choice?
All of the lines was built as the replacement for the closing of the last 2 kilometers of the rail line into central Newcastle. So this is a tiny but very interesting light rail line. All of the regular revenue services was launched on the 18th of February 2019.
This network should be improved a lot. A city at this size should have a light rail system covering everything. Just look at Porto in Portugal or even Den Haag in The Netherlands. They have almost the same amount of inhabitants as the Australian Newcastle got. So there is no reason for not expand this service.
There are no plans for expanding the service yet but the public transportation company there should really think about this. You care about the environment, but you don’t do much? Why?
Light Rail Service since 2019 in Newcastle
On the 18th of February 2019, this new kind of transport method was added to Newcastle. It is just one line. It is only 2.7 km long but uses a former railway route.
There are no plans for expanding it as I am aware of. I tried to find info about this but without luck.
Unique CAF Urbos 3 light rail trains
This very short line is operated with CAF Urbos trams, without overhead wires and battery-charging at stops. They seem to be very slow or for some reason, they can’t go any faster? If nothing is done here, I don’t know how long this line will be available. A light rail system must be at the size of which you can find in Canberra.
So, I really urge Newcastle in Australia to rethink and move on quickly. A 6 station line is not enough but maybe I am the one that should rethink this?
I really want to see Newcastle evolve. It is a small town and this is for sure a great move but the slowness and the short line makes me worried for its future. Also, a reason for politicians to discuss the needs for having a light rail. There are also cities in the USA that have done the same mistake. But the light rail in Newcastle is built right and it is separated from the car traffic which is very good.
Recommended destinations in Newcastle
You can visit many beautiful places near the light rail in Newcastle. Nobbys Beach is one of them. This beach is only about 500 metres away from the Newcastle Beach light rail station. So if you come to Newcastle with train from Sydney you can have a nice time here.
From Queens Wharf station you can take a short walk to the doc nearby to the north where you can take a boat from Queens Wharf to Stockton Wharf.
It also bypasses The University of Newcastle where many people study. Marketown Shopping Centre is not far from the Honeysuckle light rail station. Then Newcastle Civic Park is near Civic station. So there are lots of options.
Light Rail Newcastle Fare, Ticket and Price info
For more vital information about the tickets and routes for other types of Public Transportation systems such as buses and trains can be found on NSW Government Newcastle Transportation site
Light Rail Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is a metropolitan region south of Brisbane on Australia’s east coast that is built for fun and relaxing. About 679,127 lives here.
All of the area that this light rail line covers is all famed for its long sandy beaches, surfing spots and elaborate system of inland canals and waterways. So you can call this for an interurban light rail route that is made up of many suburbs of Gold Coast town.
It is all 20.3 km in length with 19 stops that connect this important vacation place with Brisbane in the north through Helensvale railway station.
- Opened in 2014
- 1 light rail line
- Connects with Helensvale railway station
Recommended destinations in Gold Coast
It’s also home to theme parks such as Dreamworld, Sea World and Wet’n’Wild. Inland, hiking trails crisscross Lamington National Park’s mountain ridges and valleys, home to rare birds and rainforest.
Gold Coast is a major tourist destination with its sunny subtropical climate. It is widely known for its surfing beaches, high-rise dominated skyline, theme parks, nightlife, and rainforest hinterland.
This area of Australia is a place that I am not so familiar with. But it is awesome that this area got such an amazing light rail system. It shows that this is possible to build in Australia and the fact that this service should have been extended to Brisbane too which totally lacks a great light rail system.
Maybe the local railway network in Brisbane and Perth is covering enough? That it can replace a light rail system? Well, with a light rail system more areas would be covered.
Light Rail Gold Coast Fare, Ticket and Price info
This area seems to have the same issue as most of the Australian cities. You can travel seamlessly across South East Queensland by touching on at the beginning of your journey and touching off at the end.
I just wonder about who in the world of Australia thinks that this a good solution? I never need tap my card after activating it once and Ruter here in Oslo, Norway isn’t losing revenue because of that at all.
For more vital information about the tickets and routes for other types of Public Transportation systems such as buses and trains can be found on Ride The G Light Rail site