CRACKS have been discovered in the Newcastle light rail tracks, forcing Transport for NSW to impose speed restrictions on the city's trams.
The cracks were found at three separate locations along the line during a recent annual track inspection.
"One is east bound between Civic and Merewether St, another is west bound, just east of Merewether St approaching Civic and the third was discovered at Hunter Street just before Worth Place," Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW division president Daniel Jaggers said.
"There are currently 10 km/h speed restrictions in operation at each location as well as daily inspections.
"The RTBU has been informed that a shutdown is planned at the end of March in order to do repairs on the line."
Transport for NSW did not say if a shut down had been scheduled for March but confirmed the city's trams were required to travel at a reduced speed limit of 10 km/h through the three "localised sections of track"
"Small cracks were detected at four weld points during scheduled maintenance testing undertaken in late January," a spokesperson said.
"Services are continuing as normal and there is no risk to the safety of customers and staff.
"A repair methodology is now being developed.
"As the contractor responsible for building the Newcastle light rail, Downer EDI will complete the repairs in line with its contractual warranty for the work.
"The community will be notified when timing for repairs has been confirmed."
Mr Jaggers said it was "a concern that the track is suffering these kinds of fatigue issues while it is still in its infancy".
"The safety of commuters and workers needs to be the number one priority," he said.
"The union will continue to seek updates on the track situation to ensure everything possible is being done to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
"The slowing down of the trams as a result of the track issues doesn't just inconvenience passengers, but it also impacts drivers, because it reduces the time they have to turn around at the terminal - adding pressure to what is already a difficult job."
Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp said he made inquires with the state's main transport agency after trams began slowing through a section of the line outside his Hunter Street office.
"The light rail's first birthday was being recognised only a couple of weeks ago, so to see this kind of damage appear in the infrastructure so early is very disappointing," Mr Crakanthorp said.
"This was the government's pet project for Newcastle, and for the hundreds of millions of dollars that were spent we expected better quality."