Govt tables changes to transport act to make cutting the Newcastle rail line legal

NSW Labor will seek support from the minor parties in the upper house ahead of a crucial vote on the future of Newcastle’s heavy rail line, reports the Maitland Mercury.

In Parliament yesterday, the state ­government tabled changes to the Transport Administration Act, which has stopped it from tearing up the train line into Newcastle CBD.

The government needs the support of the Christian Democrats, Animal Justice, and Shooters and Fishers parties to change the law and make the removal of the rail infrastructure legal.

The surprise move comes despite a pending High Court appeal outcome over the court’s December ruling that the ­government needed an Act of Parliament to remove the train tracks.

“I have met with the shadow minister for transport and we are meeting with upper house MPs to try to ensure they are going to vote for the community when it goes to the upper house next week,” Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison told the Mercury.

“Because of the focus on Newcastle where the government is trying to blackmail the community by saying they will not proceed with revitalisation unless they can remove the rail line, the upper house MPs are not getting the full story.

“We want to give them a clearer view of the people who live in the other electorates in the region who rely on the rail line to work, see doctors, go to court, to uni­versity in the future.”

The truncation has been a controversial issue in some parts of the Hunter outside Newcastle, including Maitland, where many commuters have expressed concern that the change from trains to light rail would make it more difficult to access the city.

Read the full article at the Maitland Mercury.