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Newcastle light rail opens for business

Mobility operator Keolis Downer has added the rail service to the Australian city’s multi-modal transport network alongside its bus and ferry operations

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The light rail service has been rolled out in Newcastle ahead of schedule
The light rail service has been rolled out in Newcastle ahead of schedule

Transport for New South Wales is providing the city of Newcastle with a new light rail service as an integral part of the city’s multi-modal transport network.

 

The service operated by Keolis’ Australian subsidiary Keolis Downer has started one month ahead of schedule. The company has previously noted that light rail would be the ‘anchor’ for the city’s central business district.

 

Private operator network

 

Located north of Sydney, Newcastle has a population of some 360,000 people. Awarded in December 2016, the multi-modal transport contract was the first of its kind to be entrusted to a private operator in Australia and covers the operations and maintenance of the entire network (light-rail, buses and ferries) for a period of 10 years.

 

In July 2017, Keolis Downer started operating the bus and ferry services and in 2018 re-designed the bus service while introducing a real-time, on-demand transport service, powered by Via, a developer of shared ride technology.

 

Keolis Downer said its team worked “relentlessly” to introduce services ahead of schedule. As part of the testing phase, 14 drivers were trained and a 10,000km driven in a little more than four months, equivalent to 1,000 trips per tram across the network.

 

The 2.7km long network features six stations and runs between Wickham and Pacific Park.

This new network provides Novocastrians with an alternative way to travel while connecting with existing bus and ferry services.

"The line is catenary-free preserving Newcastle’s urban landscape from overhead wires"

The subsidiary claims it has been integral to the revitalisation of Newcastle, opening the city back up to its waterfront and connecting it all with an integrated multi-modal transport network. Furthermore, the line is catenary-free preserving Newcastle’s urban landscape from overhead wires.

 

Keolis has had a presence in Australia, where it has introduced and operated light rail networks, buses, on-demand transport and autonomous electric vehicles, since 2009. It counts 4,000 employees and carries more than 250 million passengers per year.

 

In addition to the Newcastle multi-modal network, the group operates the light rail networks of Melbourne (the largest and oldest tram network in the world) and Gold Coast, as well as bus networks in three states (Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland), autonomous electric shuttles (in universities in Melbourne and Adelaide), and real-time, on-demand transport in the state of New South Wales.

 

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