Sydney CBD and South East Light Rail; Sydney CBD and South East Light Rail;

Sydney CBD and South East Light Rail, Sydney, NSW

Connecting people between Sydney’s CBD and south-east

With an extra million people expected to live and work in Sydney by 2030, the CBD and South East Light Rail (CSELR) forms a critical part of the city’s transport future and urban renewal. The 12km light rail system will provide reliable transport between key destinations, to support a vibrant and connected inner city. 

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) engaged Arup in 2011 to help it achieve its strategic vision for the Sydney Light Rail network. Arup led a team including HASSELL, as engineering, light rail systems and urban design technical advisor through the planning, definition design, procurement and construction stages of the project.

Running through the city’s heart from Circular Quay to Central Station, the new line continues past two high schools towards major sporting and entertainment facilities at Moore Park, including the Sydney Cricket Ground. It then diverges, with one line connecting Centennial Park, Randwick Racecourse, Randwick TAFE College, the University of NSW and the Prince of Wales Hospital. The other line runs to Kingsford past the ES Marks Athletics Field and the National Institute of Dramatic Art. 

Project Summary


2011 Arup has worked with TfNSW since 2011

12kmline connecting CBD with the eastern suburbs

19light rail stops

International expertise

Drawing on international expertise, our team of technical specialists worked with TfNSW to develop the preferred alignment and to support the procurement and construction stages. Our engineering and operational input incorporated global best practice into the project’s design and delivery. George Street now features one of Australasia’s first ‘wire free’ operations – de-cluttering the aesthetic of the route through the city centre by removing overhead power wires and poles. 


Collaborative design to identify the best route

Arup held collaborative workshops with local stakeholders using innovative geographic information systems (GIS) to map potential routes and constraints. A shortlist of options was developed with input on engineering and urban design outcomes. This feasibility design informed the NSW Government’s strategic plan and the identification of a preferred route.

We’re proud to have supported Transport for NSW on providing greater connectivity across Sydney’s CBD and South East – linking people to home, work, education and some of our city’s best sporting and entertainment destinations. ”

Anna Squire Anna Squire Principal | NSW & ACT Leader

Geographic information systems clash detection

Arup developed a GIS-based utilities clash detection system which streamlined the utilities impact assessment on the route options by automating the interaction of the proposed infrastructure and existing underground utilities. This was particularly important on the George Street section which serves as a major utility artery. The system took inputs of over 100,000 individual underground utilities, combining source material from a wide variety of formats, and translating them into a single utilisable reference.  


Intermodal connectivity

With a capacity of 13,500 passengers an hour in both directions, CSELR provides an easy and reliable service and greater connectivity between new and existing transport modes across Sydney. The new routes feature light rail to bus interchanges at Randwick, Kingsford and Rawson Place, and integration with heavy rail at Circular Quay, Wynyard, Town Hall and Central stations. Passengers can transfer to the Inner West Light Rail in Chinatown, at Rawson Place and at Central. The Circular Quay terminus also provides direct access to ferry wharves. The integration will be further enhanced when the Sydney Metro City and Southwest stations commence operating in 2024.