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The last train out of Sydney’s almost gone

Mar 12, 2018News

An excellent article by Liam Thorne at Honi Soit. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full article.


“Sydney used to have what can only be described by public transport nerds (like me) as a truly majestic tram system. By most metrics—reach, capacity, interconnectedness—it was the bedrock of a welcoming and energetic city. Before its eventual demise at the hands of the automobile, it brought the North and South together, from Narrabeen and Willoughby down to Cronulla. It reached outwards to Ryde, Concord, Enfield, Hurlstone Park, and Earlwood. The height of its majesty, however, was found around USyd, snaking along almost every main arterial road that today finds itself clogged with cars; along Parramatta Road and King Street, up Victoria Road through Balmain and down the Princes Highway towards Tempe.

George Street featured a tram that ran from Central Station up towards the crown jewel of the network: the Harbour Bridge. A pioneering piece of engineering and city planning, the bridge was and is impressive both for the service it provides, connecting North to South, and the transport features it boasted. Sir John Bradfield, the bridge’s designer, fought for 30 years for a design that would accommodate the mass population growth he correctly foresaw. The six lane design was seen as entirely unnecessary in the period prior to the rise of the automobile. Possessing two tram and two rail tracks, the system incorporated what are jargonistically called ‘redundancies’, essentially backup plans in the event of an emergency. This was a diversified system, one that easily handled the population growth following World War II. And while many argue that the bridge’s roads nudged people toward cars, Bradfield still prioritised an urban ideology of creating a city based on an interconnected mass transport system. This ideology defined Sydney for its first 50 years following federation.”

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