City News

Light Rail collision brings Surry Hills to stand still

The car collided with the light rail tram outside the Shakespeare Hotel in Surry Hills. Photo: Twitter/Heath Parkes-Upton

By ALLISON HORE

A driver had a lucky escape following a head on-collision with a tram in Surry Hills yesterday.

The collision occurred outside the Shakespeare Hotel on Devonshire Street just before 4:30pm yesterday afternoon. Witnesses on the scene say the car was travelling down the light rail tracks in the opposite direction at a significant speed when the collision occurred. The single-lane road has a speed limit of 40km per hour.

The motorist, who was freed from the wreckage by emergency services workers after 30 minutes trapped in his vehicle, sustained only minor cuts to his face. He was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital in a stable condition

No passengers on the light rail were injured but the tram itself suffered significant damage. NSW Police are currently investigating the matter.

The ordeal meant traffic towards Randwick was heavily congested and light rail services were cancelled. Transport for NSW say services resumed as usual at around 6:30pm, two hours after the collision took place. 

On a collision course

Although incidents involving cars and light rail trams are rare, this is not the first time a collision has occurred since the $2.9 billion L2 and L3 lines opened in late 2019. 

In January 2020, a light rail tram heading towards Randwick partially derailed after hitting a car on South Dowling street in Surry Hills. NSW Police say the 37 year-old motorist involved in the accident had failed to stop at a red light.

Another major incident happened in July that same year. A truck carrying an excavator collided with a light rail tram at the intersection of George Street and Essex Street near Circular Quay. The collision caused one of the windows on the tram to burst. Just one passenger was on board the service at the time and both driver and passenger were uninjured. 

Transport NSW data obtained by the ABC in July last year, following the incident, revealed there were almost 20 collisions with cars and pedestrians in the past year. Of those collisions, 11 were between trams and vehicles and another eight involved pedestrians. 

The data showed there were more than 100 near misses as well. 61 involving pedestrians, 31 involving cars and 16 involving cyclists. 

To avoid incidents, Transport for NSW reminds motorists to “always follow traffic signals and signs” and to never “stop or park within the tram lane (even when you can’t see a tram).”

“Whether you’re walking, cycling, driving or catching public transport, it’s important we all play our part to stay safe around light rail,” they said.

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