Engineering, Passenger Rail, Research & Development, Rolling stock & Rail Vehicle Design, Technology and IT

Newcastle light rail to be Australia’s first ‘wire-free’ system

The NSW government has announced that Newcastle’s light rail is to be a majority wire-free line.

Andrew Constance, transport and infrastructure minister, announced the removal of overhead wires as part of the upgrades accompanying the city’s new 2.7 kilometre light rail development.

“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,” the minister said.

The announced development will make Newcastle the only Australian city with a mostly wire-free light rail system.


In order to do away with the “spider-web” of overhead wires each vehicle on the line will be fitted with on-board energy storage and will use charge points at station stops.

“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,” Constance said.

Catenary-free light rail is a developing space in the rail sector, with rollingstock manufacturers providing a variety of solutions to wireless transit.

CAF, which is providing vehicles for Newcastle Light Rail, has a number of catenary-free tram designs using an on-board power storage systems, including one design which recovers the kinetic energy used in braking.

Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts also stated that the proposed urban amenity upgrades will allow for more open space in the city, and will connect light rail passengers with new precincts including Darby Plaza and Civic Link.

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

Emphasising the role the suite of changes would have for the future of the city, Constance stated that this “world class” rail technology would help realise the government’s plan to make Newcastle into a “major university town and a city known for cutting-edge research and innovation”.