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Just weeks after services on a large chunk of Sydney’s light rail network were suspended due to cracks found on trams, Newcastle’s network – which uses the same Spanish built vehicles – has also been shut down.
Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has said all services on the Newcastle Light Rail network had been “temporarily suspended” until at least Monday.
Transport bosses said it was an unspecified “mechanical issue” but was unrelated to the cracking found on the wheel arches of the trams found in Sydney and other cities around the world including Birmingham.
“The fleet has been suspended temporarily as a precaution until inspections are completed.
“This issue is unrelated to the cracking issues identified in the inner west light rail fleet,” a TfNSW spokeswoman said.
“The six CAF Urbos 100 vehicles which are operated in Newcastle are the same baseline tram as those operated in the inner west L1 line, however these are newer and have some differing components and systems,” the spokeswoman said.
“Keolis Downer is working to urgently investigate and repair the fleet to restore passenger service as soon possible and at this stage the aim is to have some trams back in services by Monday,” the statement said.
Bus services are replacing light rail services along Hunter and King streets. Passengers can also use bus routes 11 and 13 to travel in the Newcastle CBD.
Newcastle’s light rail network (above) has been shut down.
‘Light rail fail’
Shadow transport minister, Labor’s Jo Haylen, laid the blame at the government.
“This is the NSW government’s second light rail fail in a month,” she told the Newcastle Herald.
“As if we needed more evidence to build transport infrastructure here in Australia.”
The Newcastle Light Rail network opened in 2019 and operates along a single 3km route between the Newcastle Interchange railway station then through the CBD to Newcastle Beach.
It was built as a replacement for the heavy rail which used to travel into the heart of the city but now terminates at the CBD’s western fringe.
The suspension of tram services in Newcastle is another headache for Spanish manufacturer CAF. Its Urbos 3 trams, of which Newcastle’s Urbos 100 vehicle is a variant, are now out of action in multiple cities worldwide.
Earlier this month, TfNSW said services would be suspended on the L1 Inner West light rail line after “serious cracks” were found in the wheel arches of all 12 tram sets that ply the route from Sydney’s Central station to Dulwich Hill.
The government has said the line could be out of action for as much as 18 months.
Services on Sydney’s L2 Randwick and L3 Kingsford lines, which use different rolling stock, are not affected and are running as usual.
The trams network in Birmingham, UK, which uses the same trams has also now been shut down after similar cracks were found.
Issues with Urbos 3 trams have also now been reported in Belgrade, Serbia, and in the French city of Besancon.
In July, CAF agreed with authorities in Besancon to fix, at its own cost, 19 trams after cracks were found on the bodies of the carriages in 2017.
Canberra also uses Urbos trams. However, service sin the capital continue to run as normal.
This article first appeared on www.news.com.au
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