A Newcastle light rail vehicle travelled under its own power and was controlled by a driver for the first time during overnight testing on Monday.
Aspects of speed control, braking, and charging at the Honeysuckle and Civic light rail stops took place across more than six hours of testing.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance labelled the testing a “significant milestone” and said the Revitalizing Newcastle team was moving closer to daytime tests.
“After completing a series of safety checks we can now power up and start driving,” Constance said.
“Powered testing allows us to check things like the brakes, onboard energy storage and charging systems, while at the same time provides valuable training for crews in the new light rail system.
“Newcastle’s light rail vehicles have energy storages which will be charged at each stop in the time it takes for passengers to get on and off.
“Last night’s test involved running the vehicle along Hunter Street and checking the brakes and charging points at each stop.”
Initial tests are conducted at night to ensure the system is operating safely under controlled conditions. Parts of Hunter Street were last night closed to traffic for the tests.
But daytime testing, which will likely begin next month, will involve simulating timetables and further driver training.
“Testing will continue at night over the coming weeks and include a range of simulations like filling the tram with weights to mimic it being completely full of passengers, plus checking the traffic signal interactions at pedestrian crossings and intersections,” Constance said.
The Newcastle light rail is expected to begin operation in early 2019.