The first wire-free light rail system in Australia has passed its first hurdle with a drive along Hunter Street, Newcastle. The wire-free technology is part of $35 million NSW Government funding to improve the Light Rail Project.

NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, said the first powered test was a significant milestone as the team moves closer to daytime testing.

“Testing started the moment Newcastle’s first light rail vehicle arrived in the depot last month, and after completing a series of safety checks we can now power up and start driving,” Mr Constance said.

“Powered testing allows us to check things like the brakes, onboard energy storage and charging systems, while at the same time providing valuable training for crews in the new light rail system.

“[The] test involved running the vehicle along Hunter Street and checking the brakes and charging points at each stop.”

Newcastle’s light rail vehicles have energy storages that will be charged at each stop in the time it takes for passengers to get on and off.

Testing will continue at night over the coming weeks, and include a range of simulations like filling the tram with weights to mimic it being completely full of passengers, plus checking the traffic signal interactions at pedestrian crossings and intersections.

Initial tests are conducted at night to ensure the system is operating safely and efficiently under controlled conditions. Daytime testing will involve simulating timetables and driver training, and is expected to commence by in the coming weeks with services on schedule to operate in early 2019.

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