Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Back to the Future

By Ian Lowe

Light rail systems are finding favour more than half a century since Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide scrapped their tram networks.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Light rail systems seem to be the flavour of the month. When I was young, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide all had extensive tram networks. Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide all scrapped their systems in the 1950s and 1960s, principally because it was felt that buses were more flexible and tram lines on the roads impeded other traffic. Adelaide retained one tram line from the western end of the CBD to Glenelg. Transport experts at the time criticised Melbourne for failing to follow the trend.

Now Melbourne’s tram network is widely admired and other cities are getting back into the swing. Sydney installed one light rail line from Central Station through Darling Harbour to the inner western suburbs several years ago, and recently extended it to the suburb of Dulwich Hill. Adelaide extended its one line right through the middle of the CBD, then pushed it further to the Entertainment Centre.

Both Sydney and Adelaide found the services so popular that the systems have been struggling to cope with the passenger numbers. Sydney is now planning a longer line through the inner eastern suburbs, providing transport to Randwick and the University of NSW.

The Gold Coast, long totally dedicated to the car culture, has just opened a light rail service running from Broadbeach all the way north to the hospital and the Gold Coast campus of Griffith University. The...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.