NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian last week announced that improvements to the CBD and South East Light Rail project have been given the final tick of approval from the Department of Planning and Environment.
Ms Berejiklian said the CBD and South East Light Rail network will transform public transport in Sydney by providing modern and reliable services for customers, boosting the economy and cutting congestion in the city.
"The green light from planning means we can roll out longer light rail vehicles with more seats for customers and 50 per cent more capacity, allowing us to move up to 13,500 passengers every hour," Ms Berejiklian said.
"Other changes to the project include larger platforms and wire free infrastructure to maintain the heritage streetscape along parts of George Street."
Ms Berejiklian also confirmed the timeframe for the construction of the project had been reduced, with construction to be completed in 2018 and customer services to commence in early 2019.
"With services set to start on the new light rail by early 2019, we are keeping our promise to minimise disruption and keep Sydney open for business while we deliver this transformational project," she said.
"The contractor ALTRAC Light Rail is finalising the detailed work schedule so communities and businesses have plenty of notice when work is taking place.
"While construction will ramp up after Anzac Day across parts of the route, major construction is not expected to begin in George Street until September or October and there will no changes to bus routes until this time.
"The community can rest assured that when finalised, detailed changes to traffic and bus routes will be communicated well in advance."
There will be extra staff on the ground working with the community and businesses before and during construction, and the contractor will also face penalties if they do not complete work zones within an agreed timeframe.
Preparatory work is now under way in a number of areas along the light rail route and will continue to impact CBD intersections during a number weekends and evenings prior to the start of major construction.
Image: Artist's impression of CBD and South East Light Rail / NSW Government - Transport for NSW.