The operators of Sydney's newly-opened light rail network insist day one was an "outstanding success", despite a breakdown stopping services and a driver slamming the emergency brakes on after going through a red light.
The city’s long-awaited tram service, which opened to the public for the first time on Saturday morning, broke down at Circular Quay just a few hours later.
Despite earlier reports the tram lost power when it stopped at a bend in the track just before 2pm, blocking lines in both directions, the operator said the cause was still under investigation.
“The tram developed a fault; we don’t have the reason for that at this stage,” Brian Brennan, chief officer of light rail operations at Transdev, told reporters.
The breakdown saw services out of action for some 40 minutes.
“Tram failures do occur, it’s a reality. But again it’s been an outstanding success today,” Mr Brennan said.
“The atmosphere on the trams, the atmosphere with the people was excellent earlier.”
A safety investigation is underway after another incident saw a driver having to hit the emergency brakes after accidentally running a red light on what was reportedly a “packed” tram near the Royal Randwick stop.
Mr Brennan said first-day ‘hiccups” are always anticipated but overall, Saturday had married up “superbly” with expectations.
The $2.9 billion line between Circular Quay to Randwick had already been plagued by cost blow-outs and significant delays.
The branch line to Kingsford isn’t expected to open until March.
The NSW government earlier hailed the return of passenger trams to George Street in the CBD for the first time since 1958 and to the city as a whole for the first time since 1961, as changing Sydney forever.
A select group of passengers took the first trip from Circular Quay to Randwick in what is a fare-free opening weekend.
“It’s changed the city forever and it’s going to be a phenomenal project for so many, over many generations to come,” transport minister Andrew Constance said afterwards.
“The trams should have never been taken out – everyone is nodding – so we put them back in.”
Frank Ayrton, 83, who worked as a conductor on the old network, was among the select few who rode the first service with Mr Constance and Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
The new network will move up to 13,500 commuters an hour during peak time in both directions, the state government says.