115,000 riders on light rail first weekend

Sydney's light rail broke down at Circular Quay on the first day of operations.
Sydney's light rail broke down at Circular Quay on the first day of operations.

Sydneysiders have flocked to test out the state's newest light rail network with the long-awaited tram service carrying 115,000 passengers well before close on its opening weekend.

The $2.9 billion CBD and South East light rail opened to the public for the first time on Saturday morning.

By 3pm on Sunday some 115,000 people had ridden the tram service, with 80,000 on Saturday alone across 155 services between 10am and 1am.

However, the tram network's inaugural weekend was not without hiccups, breaking down at Circular Quay just a few hours after opening.

The breakdown saw services out of action for some 40 minutes after a tram stopped at a bend in the track just before 2pm, blocking lines in both directions.

Brian Brennan, chief officer of light rail operations at Transdev, said the technical issue was caused by a power module, exacerbated by someone pushing the emergency handle and trying to exit the vehicle.

The module piece has been replaced and "we look forward to being back in service in the coming days," Mr Brennan told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

Sunday was "largely very, very positive", however there was a mechanical break failure fault on a tram at Surry Hills about 8.25am, which was fixed by a network technician and caused a "limited impact" of about 10 minutes, he said.

Passengers were also struggling to hear audio on board and driver announcements when the trams were fully packed, an issue which Mr Brennan said was being worked on with the expectation of being in a "much better space" in the next two weeks.

Air conditioning settings and filters will also be investigated with a solution possible within the same time frame.

While Transport Minister Andrew Constance apologised to passengers for any inconvenience caused, he said it was a "super weekend" for the trams.

"I know there was one incident with a tram yesterday out of 155 services and we're conscious of that," Mr Constance told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.'

"But when you have 80,000 people get on the trams in one day, it is a super weekend for the trams, it's opening, it's the busiest weekend of the year for Christmas shoppers and I really do want to thank people for their patience."

Opposition leader Jodi McKay says the "good will for stuff-ups" is gone after the construction of the network was plagued by delays and cost blowouts.

"There simply is no excuse for the incompetence of the Berejiklian government that we saw on day one," she said on Sunday.

"The government must reassure the public that the light rail was ready to open yesterday, and guarantee that it will be safe and reliable."

Australian Associated Press