Adelaide trams on track for major closure

Trams between Glenelg and the city will stop running for up to nine months around 2024/25 while two main road overpasses and a new stop are built, with services at this stage expected to run only from the park lands into the CBD and Entertainment Centre.

Apr 06, 2023, updated Apr 06, 2023
The construction of two tram overpasses is set to bring a halt to regular tram services. Left image: SA Govt/supplied; right photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

The construction of two tram overpasses is set to bring a halt to regular tram services. Left image: SA Govt/supplied; right photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

The Department for Infrastructure and Transport today released details of a $400 million project to remove two tram level crossing at Marion Road and Cross Road along the Glenelg tramline.

The project, jointly funded by the state and federal governments, will also see the upgrade of the existing South Road tram overpass at Glandore and a new tram stop built between Marion Road and Cross Road.

Trams running between Glenelg and the city will be closed for six to nine months to allow construction of the new overpasses, the Department announced today.

The Marion Road level crossing slated for a new overpass. Image: Google Maps

A artist’s impression of the future Marion Road overpass. Image: state government/supplied

Department CEO Jon Whelan said trams would still run within the city and through to the Entertainment Centre during the closure.

“We want to do as much work as we can with trams operating,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.

“It’s estimated the tramline would be closed somewhere between six to nine months and we still need to work out that exact timing.

“We still want to operate trams, particularly in that city area, so at the moment we will be able to run trams – our intention is to run trams – from around about the park lands in and through the city.

“We have just got to work out those details during the procurement phase.”

Substitute buses will be provided for regular tram commuters during the closure, Whelan said.

He also flagged that the Department will investigate how far into the suburbs trams can run while the line is closed.

“We will look at other alternatives to see if we can get it a little bit further to the west, maybe from Goodwood, but that’s still in the planning phase,” he said.

“But we are very confident we will be able to run trams from around the park lands through the city through to the Entertainment Centre.”

The Cross Road tram level crossing slated for a new overpass. Photo: Google Maps

An artist’s impression of the new Cross Road tram overpass. Image: state government/supplied

According to a tender released by the Department this week, construction on the overpasses is scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2024, with the tram lines to be open to traffic by late 2025 and the project completed by mid-2026.

Whelan said the intention was to have trams back operating “by the end of ’25”.

He also said temporarily closing the tram line will “give us the fastest construction time frame” and minimise the number of compulsory acquisitions required for the project, which currently stands at three.

Asked how the trams would undergo maintenance given the tram depot is located at Glengowrie within the tram closure zone, Whelan said maintenance would be done on site or trams would be transported to the depot by truck.

“Whilst we know the trams can’t get back to the depot on the tram track itself, we’ll run a captive fleet and undertake the maintenance we need either on site at other locations or we’ll pick up a carrier and take those trams to the depot and do any maintenance work required there,” he said.

“We’re confident, we’ve done it before, whilst yes this is a bit longer period, we’re confident we’ll be able to run trams through that city area.”

Around 30 trams run through the Marion and Cross Road level crossings at morning and afternoon peaks, according to the state government, with traffic flow interrupted for 20 minutes each hour.

The state government is also exploring whether to construct an overpass to replace the tram level crossing at Morphett Road near the Morphetville Racecourse and Anzac Highway/Morphett Road intersection.

That project is yet to be funded but would be included as a project for the contractor chosen to complete the Marion Road and Cross Road overpasses.

The Morphett Road tram level crossing which could be removed for a tram overpass if it receives funding. Photo: Google Maps

Transport Minister Tom Koutsantonis said: “We know the removal of level crossings works.”

“They reduce congestion and improve safety for everyone who drives, walks, cycles or catches public transport through that area,” he said in a statement.

“The Marion Road and Cross Road crossings are unique in that there are two crossings, and an intersection, all in close proximity.

“Removing those two crossings will let traffic flow easier and faster. An overpass will cut travel times and make public transport services a more attractive option for commuters.”

Opposition transport spokesperson Vincent Tarzia said the state government should investigate whether tram services can run on either side of the overpass projects.

“The Malinauskas Labor Government needs to investigate if trams can service other stops on either side of the project to keep commuter travel flowing,” he said in a statement.

“This would be the ideal solution which would still be supplemented by substitute bus services.”

Patronage on Adelaide trams was 5,526,536 in 2021-22 – equating to 460,544 journeys a month – down from 5,993,591 journeys in 2020-21.

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