Sydney Inner West Light Rail Line tram (Photo: CAF)

AUSTRALIA: Services on Sydney’s Inner West light rail line have been suspended following the discovery of cracks on the low-floor tram fleet. A temporary bus service has been put in place to carry around 5 000 passengers/day.

Cracks were discovered on all 12 of the route’s CAF Urbos 3 trams during routine maintenance inspections at Lilyfield depot. The five-section vehicles were procured in 2014 in conjunction with the extension of the line from Lilyfield to Dulwich Hill, replacing seven Adtranz Variotrams supplied when the line first opened in 1997. A further four Urbos 100 cars are due to be delivered in early 2023 under an order announced in June.

According to Transport for NSW Chief Operations Officer Howard Collins, the cracks in the floor area over the wheelsets were up to 300 mm long, and needed to be addressed before they propagated further. This could include strengthening the vehicles to prevent a recurrence.

Transport Minister Rob Stokes told local media that ‘the safety advice has been for these vehicles to be withdrawn from service until they can be fixed’. He warned that services on the 12·8 km route could be suspended for up to 18 months, but this was very much a ‘worst-case scenario’ and he anticipated that a limited service could be introduced much sooner. Meanwhile, TfNSW would be notifying the operators of up to 1 000 similar trams around the world, including Newcastle and Canberra, as ‘this same design flaw is likely to be a challenge for their systems as well’.