NOVOCASTRIANS will be catching light rail down Hunter Street by 2019, says the state government, but the city council’s push for the line to run through the mall appears to be dead in the water.
In his first advertised visit to Newcastle of 2016, the Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance will on Tuesday announce new details of the proposed light rail system, including where the service will stop, how often it will run, and how many passengers it will carry.
He’ll also outline a timeline for the project, with enabling works expected to get underway later this year before major construction begins in early 2017, and services start in 2019.
Before his visit, the minister said the new details meant the light rail system was “taking shape” alongside “the vision of a reinvigorated, connected city that has a modern transport system”.
Key details to emerge from Mr Constance’s visit will include:
- The light rail service will have six stops - Wickham, Honeysuckle, Civic, Crown Street, Market Street and Pacific Park.
- Light rail vehicles will run entirely separately from road traffic in the old rail corridor to Worth Place, in a dedicated lane on Hunter Street, and will share a mixed running lane with cars for only a small section of Scott Street.
- A fleet of five vehicles (four operational and one spare) will service the network
- The system will be able to move at least 600 people an hour in each direction during weekday hours or 1200 people both ways.
- Services will start at 5am and finish at 1am. They will run every 10 minutes between 7am and 7pm on weekdays, and every 15 minutes on weekends.
The Newcastle Herald can also reveal that the project’s long-awaited Review of Environmental Factors will be released on Thursday, along with an update on options for extending the light rail network.
“This is an opportunity for people to learn more about this project and share their thoughts,” Mr Constance said.
But in a blow to Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes’, Mr Constance is expected to confirm the government will stick with its preferred route, beginning at the Wickham transport interchange and terminating in Pacific Park.
The lord mayor had pushed for the line to run through Pacific Park before looping back through the Hunter Street Mall.
The government will also ignore council’s call for a mixed running line down Hunter Street, with light rail vehicles to run in a dedicated lane, and share a lane with cars for only a small section of Scott Street.
Transport tsar to ‘oversee’ projects
NEWCASTLE has a new transport tsar.
As part of his visit to Newcastle on Tuesday, the Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance, will announce roads and maritime officer Anna Zycki as the city’s new “coordinator general”.
Similar to the government’s CBD co-ordinator general in Sydney, Ms Zycki will be tasked with overseeing all major transport projects in the city centre.
Ms Zycki, who has been the regional manager for roads and maritime in the Hunter for three years, will be tasked with keeping a handle on projects including the light rail and the new Wickham transport interchange.
It’s unclear at this stage what her role will be in government’s flagged privatisation of the city’s transport system, but according to Mr Constance’s office her job will include looking after “bus and traffic network improvements”.
The job won’t be easy – part of the position description includes working with the city’s various interest groups, including Urban Growth, the city council, and “the broader community”.