The light rail revitalises the city centre of Newcastle, connecting key activity precincts and stimulating urban renewal opportunities while contributing to the continued economic growth of the region – bring it one step closer to becoming a global gateway city.
Above: Image courtesy of Newcastle Light Rail project
The Newcastle Light Rail is a high capacity, frequent transport service through the city centre. At 2.7 km in length, the project includes six stops and a depot. The light rail runs from Newcastle Interchange at Wickham to Pacific Park in Newcastle East, just 200 m from Newcastle Beach.
WSP was initially engaged in 2014 as lead designer on the project as part of a design joint venture that undertook project scoping, definition and concept design. In 2016, we moved into detailed design, managing complex design issues and volumes of changes to prepare approved-for-construction documents.
Our work included detailing all infrastructure and requirement specifications for all rail systems components, including alignment and civil works, six stops, a depot, power supply, TCS and communication systems.
The design team introduced several innovations, which resulted in:
Maximising on-street parking
Minimising lane-sharing between general traffic and light rail vehicles
Removing many overhead wire structures (made possible because of new battery technology), enhancing the new infrastructure’s look and feel while preserving aesthetics and heritage architecture
Visualisation of Design
Our visualisation team worked alongside the design team to continually optimise different parts of the project. They confirmed data accuracy and accessibility for use in 3D software packages and provided a common design to work from. The team achieved increased levels of detail by combining various digital datasets to create one comprehensive model.
The model had increased realism and accuracy, providing an engaging visualisation that reflected the project environment. The team created several different animations using this same model, helping different parts of the project team to meet tight deadlines and deliverables.
The animations also helped to maintain the excitement around the project, as it enabled the community and stakeholders to visualise the positive impact it would have on their city.
Powered Up Wire Free
Newcastle Light Rail is the first entirely catenary-free or ‘wire free’ system in Australia. The unique approach uses an on-board power supply and provides charging at stations while passengers board and disembark through a connection to an elevated charge bar at each stop.
Implementing this new technological innovation brought its own unique set of challenges with regards to modelling and managing expectations to ensure the system is reliable. The end outcome is a light rail that is decluttered and an aesthetic that reflects a thriving mixed-use global city.
Newcastle Light Rail was the first Asset Information Management System developed in NSW that complied with the Transport for NSW Asset Standards Authority Standards. This was a significant achievement and a result of strong collaboration between the project team, the ASA and Transport for NSW.
The light rail has provided a frequent, reliable, comfortable, energy-efficient and sustainable travel option through the city centre that connects the main activity precincts and reunites the city centre with the waterfront.