The Newcastle Interchange at Wickham will open next month, with work on the station to finish ahead of schedule, says the NSW government.
The Stewart Avenue interchange will officially open on October 16, though the first trains will run to and from the station a day earlier.
Transport for NSW has confirmed that the first passenger service will leave the interchange at 1.44am on October 15, bound for Fassifern.
Meanwhile, the first passenger train to Sydney will leave at 2.45am and the first service will arrive from Central at 4.46am.
Trains will begin running through to the station from Hamilton – without passengers – in the coming weeks as part of final testing before the interchange opens.
“The multi-modal interchange will be a new gateway for the city centre and will be the final stop for passengers travelling to Newcastle by train on the Central Coast and Newcastle Line as well as the Hunter Line,” NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said.
“It will integrate seamlessly with the new bus interchange, which is proposed to be built on the site of the former Newcastle Co-operative Store building, and enhance connectivity between trains, light rail, buses, taxis, private vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.”
The interchange was originally expected to open in November, but a Transport for NSW spokesman said “a combination of good planning, dry weather and the cooperation of the surrounding community has allowed us to open the interchange a few weeks ahead of schedule”.
In a statement, the government said a new fleet of intercity trains would operate from the interchange from 2019 – which is also when the light rail network is due to be up and running.
Revitalising Newcastle program director Michael Cassel said light rail construction was tracking well.
“This will provide a frequent and reliable travel option through the city centre, connect key activity precincts, reinvigorate Hunter and Scott streets and open up great urban renewal opportunities,” he said.
The news comes a day after the government announced the six-month trial of a new express train service between Newcastle and Sydney.
The trail will begin at the end of November and is expected to slash 26 minutes off the journey south to Central and 11 minutes the other direction.