One of the biggest changes coming for Sydney’s eastern suburbs is the new CBD and South East Light Rail.
Buses currently service much of the eastern suburbs, with the exception of Bondi Junction, and a significant transport project always has a big impact on the suburbs it services.
Buses can face delays and congestion, leaving them less reliable than trains, and this problem for commuters into the CBD for work and shopping had only been expected to get worse as more people move into the attractive eastern suburbs.
But the first earth has been turned for the government’s $2 billion light rail project since its announcement in 2012, with construction beginning in October 2015. This will bring the eastern suburbs in line with many cities globally, such as Dublin, San Francisco, Melbourne and Barcelona.
If everything goes to plan, services will begin running in 2019, providing new amenity and a possible increase in property values. Real estate agents are already advertising homes as “close to” proposed light rail stations as they are a definite selling point. These new high frequency light rail vehicles will also have special event services, and in peak hour there will be a service every four minutes moving 18,000 people an hour.
Where will the light rail stations be?
- Circular Quay
- Grosvenor Street
- Queen Victoria Building
- Town Hall
- Rawson Place
- Surry Hills
- Moore Park
Line towards the east (connecting to Moore Park):
- Alison Road
- Wansey Road
- UNSW High Street
Line towards the south (connecting to Moore Park):
- Carlton Street
- Todman Avenue
- UNSW Anzac Parade
- Strachan Street
How will it affect locals and the property market?
Those currently commuting from Randwick or Kingsford into the city to work face a 20 minute bus journey that in some instances requires a change over. On the light rail, this will be reduced to 15 minutes from Randwick to Central and 18 minutes from Kingsford to Central and no changeovers.
Those who previously drove into the CBD will have an option that reduces congestion and increases comfort and reliability.
This could make the area more attractive as a student rental hub and may make it a worthwhile investment consideration. A similar effect will be seen around the Randwick health precinct.
While about 70 homes were acquired by the government for the project from 2014 to 2015, those who have kept their home in the area are expected to benefit from a ripple effect of urban renewal that will be created by the light rail corridor.
This may include public space improvements, including new trees, bike parks, pedestrian walkways, paving, streetlights and furniture, and business growth expected. With this added amenity and the increased desirability of the area, property prices may increase as more Sydneysiders consider it a liveable area.
The Tourism and Transport Forum Australia’s position paper about light rail said these sorts of transport initiatives “have a positive effect on property values”.
Houses within 30 metres of the MetroLink system in St Louis attract a price premium of 35 per cent, while Santa Clara County apartments within 400 metres of a light rail station had a 45 per cent price boost.
Office and retail properties also attracted a substantial premium after a new light rail system was built. In the future, there could also be the prospect of rezoning to allow for higher density housing around these hubs as they become busy transport interchanges.
Further extensions of the rail line are under discussion, including to Maroubra Junction, Malabar and La Perouse.