Save Our Rail representatives met with the Premier’s Department IIG (Infrastructure Implementation Group) to be advised of progress since Mr Iemma’s announcement that the rail would be retained to Newcastle Station.
Save Our Rail is concerned that this will not actually be the outcome because of an intention to remove electrification from the Newcastle line.
We were given brochures outlining some improvements between Hamilton and Newcastle, as follows:
- Extend platforms at Hamilton, Wickham and Civic Stations
- Signalling improvements
- Level crossing upgrades at Railway Street, Stewart Ave and Merewether Street
- Improve traffic intersections at Stewart Ave/Hunter Street and Stewart Ave/ King Street
- Landscaping and fencing improvement
Despite these gains we have great concerns because:
- No additional crossing is planned. We had asked for a Steel Street pedestrian crossing and a pedestrian and vehicle crossing at Worth Place.
- The Government has allocated $500,000 to explore the Hunter Business Chamber proposal to remove the electric line from Newcastle!
This would cause disadvantage to all commuters catching the train between Newcastle and Sydney, Central Coast or Lake Macquarie. Passengers would be re-routed to Warabrook to change trains to the Hunter Line diesel service. The time penalty would be at least half an hour, apart from the inconvenience of the movement from one train to another. Overcrowding on the smaller diesel trains is another likely result.
Loss of patronage would result in the line being closed after all.