Newcastle's first light rail vehicle is due to arrive via cargo ship in the city's harbour on Saturday

JOURNEY: The first of Newcastle's light rail vehicles being loaded onto the ship in Spain.
JOURNEY: The first of Newcastle's light rail vehicles being loaded onto the ship in Spain.

It could be the longest journey the Newcastle light rail vehicles will ever take – Spain to Australia via the Panama Canal.  

The city’s first light rail vehicle will arrive in the Port of Newcastle aboard the Norwegian-flagged cargo ship Hoegh Jeddah on Saturday afternoon. 

The ‘Urbos 100’ model tram was rolled aboard the specialist ship at Spain’s Port of Santander in July. 

The intercontinental journey across the North Atlantic and South Pacific Oceans has taken the tram – aboard the ship – more than 12000 nautical miles. 

Stops were made in Auckland, Melbourne and Port Kembla, where the ship left on Friday afternoon. 

It will dock at the West Basin 4 berth at Carrington. 

The Newcastle Herald understands the ship will be unloaded on Saturday and the first tram transported to the Wickham stabling yard early next week.

The Newcastle trams are produced by CAF as an option under the Sydney Inner West light rail contract.

The ‘Urbos 100’ model can carry a maximum capacity of 270 persons. It is 33m long and weighs 45 tonnes when empty.

The trams, which feature a low floor design to enhance accessibility, will be the first in NSW with surfboard racks.

Each tram carries an on-board energy source which is charged by an overhead bar at each stop. A regenerative braking system will also allow for energy to be transferred back to the tram’s onboard storage system. 

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The trams are expected to be tested on the city’s wire-free light rail system from next month. Work on the line is nearing completion. 

Operation of the Newcastle light rail system will then begin in early 2019. 

Fares will start at $2.20 for adults, $1.10 for children and $1.10 for concession passengers using Opal cards. 

Cash tickets will be slightly more expensive, while passengers changing onto light rail from a bus or train will be charged another 20 cents to use the light rail.

It is expected the Newcastle light rail will run every 7.5 minutes in peak time.