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It sits like an early Christmas present for trainspotters.
Wrapped in large sheets of white plastic, the first of the new trams for Sydney's $2.1 billion light rail line from the central business district to the south east has secretly arrived at a new stabling yard under construction near Randwick Racecourse.
The consortium building the light rail line would have succeeded in hiding its presence ahead of an unveiling by the government but for eagle-eyed local residents, who were intrigued by what was underneath the white wrapping.
Assembled in France by transport conglomerate Alstom, the front section of the red-coloured Citadis X05 – complete with driver's compartment – now at Randwick will eventually be coupled to another vehicle to form a 67-metre light rail tram.
Capable of carrying up to 450 passengers, the 67-metre trams will be among the longest in the world when they begin running along the new line in 2019. That is a few metres short of a Boeing 747 jumbo and almost four times as long as one of Sydney's bendy buses.
In all, 30 of the trams sets will eventually be operating on the 12-kilometre light rail line from Circular Quay to Randwick and Kensington.
A spokesman for ALTRAC, the consortium that won the $1.2 billion contract to build and operate the new line, confirmed that one section of a light rail vehicle had arrived at the new stabling yard for the project at Randwick.
The consortium will be testing and commissioning the first of the light rail vehicles on sections of the line later this year.
Different track standards for the light rail line to the south east, and the inner-west line between Central and Dulwich Hill, mean the new trams will not carry passengers on the latter. They will, however, be able to run without passengers on the inner-west line to a depot at Lilyfield for maintenance.
Meanwhile, the first full closure of a major intersection in the CBD for the laying of track for the light rail line will occur this weekend, when the intersection of King and George streets is shut to traffic.
"So far we have focused on block closures for construction, keeping intersections open for traffic flow, but now with more than 8.5 kilometres of track laid across the route, it's time to get into the intersections," Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said.
"Our plan is to get in and get out by Monday morning to minimise disruption for retailers, pedestrians and motorists."
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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