Track arrives for Newcastle light rail

More than 12 kilometres of light rail track has arrived in Newcastle ready to be installed along the city’s new route.

The straight and curved sections, weighing a total of 646 tonnes, arrived in the Port of Newcastle from Austria on Thursday.

“This is a major milestone for Newcastle Light Rail,” Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald MLC said.

“We are looking forward to the first section of track being installed at Merewether Street in early December.”

The specialised track was manufactured by Voestalpine Schienen GmbH, the same company that supplied track to the Sydney, Canberra and Gold Coast light rail projects.

A rubber boot, known as a Vector System, will be fitted over the track before it is installed to ensure a smoother ride.

Revitalising Newcastle Program Director Michael Cassel said the light rail project was on track to bring world’s-best technology to public transport customers.

“The technology will help absorb vibration and noise in light rail carriages as well as minimising noise for surrounding residents and businesses,” Mr Cassel said.

“The boot, along with an epoxy coating applied to the rail, also insulates the rail and stops electric currents moving through the ground and affecting other services.”

The Vector System has been used across the world, closer to home in Adelaide, and on stage 2 of the Gold Coast Light Rail.

Newcastle’s light rail route is taking shape along Hunter Street. Contractors have already poured the parallel concrete slabs which will hold the tracks.

The concrete slabs will form Hunter Street’s dedicated east- and west-bound tram lanes. Cars will run on either side of the light rail, but the design does not allow room for on-street parking.

The 2.4-kilometre tram service from the Newcastle Interchange to Pacific Park is costing almost $250 million to build, or $100,000 a metre, according to a cabinet-in-confidence business plan which became public in September.

The trams will operate with on-board energy storage, meaning they will not have overhead wires.

The service is scheduled to start operating in early 2019. 

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