NEWCASTLE is set to be the only city in Australia with a majority wire-free light rail system, after Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance last week announced the removal of overhead wires from the Newcastle light rail plan as part of a suite of upgrades.
"This is a game changer for the urban amenity and sustainability of Newcastle light rail, which has been the impetus for the complete revitalisation of the city," Mr Constance said.
Mr Constance revealed Newcastle light rail vehicles will be fitted with on board energy storage as part of the changes, to remove the 'spider-web' of overhead wires and preserve the city's heritage.
"Implementing world class light rail technology aligns with our plans for Newcastle to become a major university town and a city known for cutting-edge research and innovation," the Minister said.
"Removing the overhead wires will preserve the aesthetics of Newcastle's heritage architecture and its unique character as light rail breathes new life into the city centre."
Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said the suite of urban amenity upgrades will allow more open space for outdoor dining, street trees and will connect light rail customers with new activity precincts including Darby Plaza and Civic Link.
The Newcastle Light Rail project consists of 2.7 kilometres of light rail track from a new transport interchange at Wickham to Pacific Park. There will be six stops along the way, starting at the transport interchange, Honeysuckle (near Hunter Street TAFE), Civic, Crown Street, Market Street and Pacific Park.
Downer EDI is the Managing Contractor for the project, which is expected to be operational from early 2019.