Expanded light rail: A new way to explore Sydney’s CBD and southeast
There is never a shortage of things to see and do in Sydney, but half the trouble can be finding your way to your destination. While a sprawling public transport network snakes through the CBD and suburbs, the sheer size of the city means the distance between attractions can start causing headaches when it comes time to plan a day of sightseeing.
To ease pressure on the city’s bus and train networks, a second light rail service is now available from Circular Quay at the northern end of the CBD through Surry Hills and Moore Park to Randwick. It’s the first time in more than half a century that a tram has operated down George Street, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
The once-congested George Street section between Bathurst and Hunter streets has now been converted into a pedestrian boulevard stretching for more than a kilometre with the L2 light rail running down its length. It’s a welcome relief for those who have experienced the heavy traffic in the area, which will now function as a major shopping district and thoroughfare for locals and tourists alike.
The new L2 line precedes the L3 Kingsford Line expected to open in March 2020, which links Moore Park and Kingsford at the Nine Ways intersection. This new line will have 19 stops via George St, Anzac Parade, Alison Road and High Street, and joins the Inner West Light Rail route which links Dulwich Hill with Central Station.
Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson said of the new light rail network: “For the accommodation sector this rejoining of the city and much greater ease of directing visitors and giving them a taste of the city is vital. For locals and business people the ability to seamlessly move about the city and enjoy the great offerings of our city hotels is a real boon.”
Part of the new light rail route’s appeal will be its high frequency departures, with services running every 4 to 8 minutes from Circular Quay to Central and every 8 to 12 minutes from Central m to Randwick from 7am to 7pm on weekdays. This means you’ll spend less time worrying about a timetable and be able to turn up and board a service when convenient, and the frequency will adjust accordingly for any special events including any sport at the SCG and Allianz Stadium and races at the Royal Randwick. The line will also improve access to the University of NSW, TAFE and health precincts, which is welcome news for students and health workers in the area.
Wondering why Light Rail can be a better choice than the bus? Aside from being a smoother ride and avoiding roads for part of the route, each service has enough capacity to carry up to 450 people – you would need around nine buses to do the same. According to the NSW government, the frequency of services means almost 13,500 people can be moved in both directions along the route every hour.
How do I buy tickets for the light rail?
The easiest and cheapest way to travel on the new L2 light rail, along with all other public transport routes in the city, is to buy an Opal smartcard which can be used to tap on and off each time you board and disembark a service. The card can be ordered and topped up online, at various train stations and transport hubs and at a large number of participating retailers – just look out for the sign at shopfronts or find a retailer online.
If you lose your card, run out of funds or only need to make one or two journeys during your stay, you can also use contactless payment with an American Express, Mastercard or Visa credit or debit card. Just be aware that you’ll be charged a slightly higher fare.
Will the light rail run late at night?
While the existing L1 between Central Station and The Star runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the L2 operates on an early-to-late schedule with a four-hour gap: services start at 5am and ending at 1am the following morning.
How can I plan my trip?
If you need help finding timetables and figuring out where to get on and off the new L2 route, check the Transport NSW trip planner for detailed information on how to get from A to B. You can also use the website to keep track of any alerts and trackwork across the entire network and register your Opal card for online top-up.
Can I catch the light rail from Fraser Suites?
Fraser Suites Sydneys’s proximity to George St means guests have prime access to the L2 line with stops just minutes away by foot. The closest stop lies outside Town Hall station on George St while another stop in Chinatown is also within walking distance. The line is an easy way for guests at Fraser Suites to travel to Martin Place, Circular Quay, the Sydney Opera House, Central Station, the SCG, Allianz Stadium and Randwick. If you need help planning a journey, speak to one of our friendly front of house team members who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the front desk.
To help make your stay in Sydney a memorable one, check out our guides on the top attractions in Sydney, things to do in Darling Harbour, exploring Regent Place and spending a romantic night out with that special someone.