The ability of the NSW government to start removing rail lines from central Newcastle on Boxing Day is expected to be determined in the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday morning, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Justice Michael Adams said he hoped to deliver his verdict in the morning, after advocacy group Save Our Rail sought an injunction in the court to prevent the rail line’s removal.
The interlocutory hearing on Tuesday heard that the government had already begun transferring some rail infrastructure in Newcastle – such as signals, lights and boomgates – to a new owner, the Hunter Development Corporation.
The transfer, by compulsory acquisition, is being used as a means of avoiding the Transport Administration Act 1988, which prevents a rail owner from disposing of a rail line except by act of parliament.
Save Our Rail’s case hinges on Section 99a of the act. This states: “A rail infrastructure owner must not, unless authorised by an act of parliament, close a railway line.” The section also says a railway line is considered closed “if the land concerned is sold or otherwise disposed of, or the railway tracks and other works concerned are removed”.
Justice Adams said the government’s device was “plainly designed to avoid a prohibition” on selling a rail corridor, but that did not mean it was unlawful.