Overhead wires a thing of the past in Newcastle light rail

Traditional overhead wires for light rail networks could become extinct as the NSW government aims to make Newcastle Australia's first wire free city.

Newcastle Light Rail Market Street artist impression. Image: Transport for NSW

One of the not-so-attractive hallmarks of an electrically powered railway system of any type is the overhead live wiring that connects to the rolling stock below.

It’s a trade-off if people are satisfied with a transport system that’s run this way, but thanks to a new and innovative system that’s set to be installed in Newcastle’s light rail network, those overhead wires could become a thing of the past.

In a new scheme to make Newcastle the only city in Australia with a majority wire free light rail system, New South Wales Minister for Transport and Infrastructure revealed that the city’s light rail vehicles will be fitted with on-board energy storage.

Transport for NSW said the removal of the “spider-web” of overhead wires was to ‘preserve the city’s heritage’ and was part of a suite of upgrades that will include more public open space.

Mr Constance said 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.

“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,” Mr Constance said.

He 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.

Minister for Planning 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.

“We’re improving the experience of being in and moving around this great city,” Mr Roberts said.

Mr Constance and Mr Roberts thanked the Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald, who has advocated for the changes on behalf of the people of Newcastle.

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