• 9 May 2013

Sydney Monorail reaches the end of the line

Sydney’s controversial Monorail will be decommissioned after 25 years of operation to make way for the development of the new Sydney International Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct in Darling Harbour.

The Monorail, initially operated by TNT Harbourlink, was conceived in the mid 1980s as part of a 50 hectare redevelopment of Darling Harbour which provided a passenger link to Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD).

The project was never truly embraced by the community nor fully integrated with Sydney’s wider public transport network and has now reached the end of its economic life. The Monorail is scheduled to cease operation on 30th June 2013 and the 3.6km of steel track is set to be removed shortly after.

Waterman is providing lead consultant, structural, civil and building services advice in relation to the removal which includes track, workshops and stations that interact with various CBD buildings. We have also appointed architects Woodhead International and urban planners URBIS as part of the delivery team.


Waterman is required to strategise the demolition methodology, recommend the best approach for demolition and removal of the Monorail. One of the most challenging components of the project is the removal of the Monorail from the Pyrmont Bridge.

The Pyrmont Bridge was built 112 years ago is one of Sydney’s treasures and is a central feature of Darling Harbour. Many thousands of pedestrians and cyclists use the bridge every day and at present, the Monorail uses it as a support. There are three sections of the bridge; the Eastern timber truss spans; the central steel trussed swing span and the Western timber trussed portion. Each of the trusses span between the bridge piers and support the road deck over. Each week the central swing span opens and closes multiple times to allow ships, tall and short to pass in and out of the Southern part of Darling Harbour.

The Monorail track, which was added to the bridge in the late 1980s, has placed all but one of its supports through the deck of the bridge down to the bridge piers on which the timber trusses sit. Operating the swing span is a complicated manoeuvre as essentially the bridge can open in two ways; the bridge deck itself can open to allow short ships through or two spans of the Monorail track can open together to allow tall sailing ships to pass through. The removal of the Monorail will return the Pyrmont Bridge to its original configuration.

Some of the key elements that Waterman will address to achieve this include:

      • Removal of all structural steel elements that are part of the Monorail facility
      • Make good of Bridge deck and waterproof membrane
      • Removal of hydraulic machinery platform
      • Re-support of the centre pivot walkways following removal of structural steel
      • Removal of all electrical elements pertaining to the Monorail
      • Removal of submarine cabling supply power to the Monorail
      • Removal of Control Circuits for the Monorail
      • Removal of all hydraulic components pertaining to the Monorail

This is shaping up to be a really challenging project for Waterman and one that our proficient team in Sydney is relishing.


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