GPT Development and the Newcastle Rail Line

Save Our Rail has never been opposed to development in the Newcastle CBD and it is long been on the public record as regards the need for greater pedestrian access between Hunter St and the Honeysuckle/Foreshore area.

Save Our Rail has been vigorously promoting a development plan for the Newcastle CBD since it was first presented to the representative of the Minister for Transport at the State Government Cabinet meeting at Maitland in March this year.

The central feature of this plan was the creation of large street level pedestrian crossings to link the Honeysuckle development and the Foreshore to Hunter St.

Save Our Rail is continuing to develop the plan which, when completed, will propose a number of broad pedestrian crossings on the rail line, in excess in fact, of the number identified by GPT.

GPT is seeking a share of the ‘Major Cities’ funding from the Federal Government to remove the rail line from Wickham into Newcastle to allegedly enhance the profitability of its development. It would appear that it proposes to significantly develop on or adjacent to the northern side of the rail corridor, particularly near Newcastle Station. Therefore Save Our Rail maintains that GPT’s proposal would in fact create a visual barrier to the Foreshore that hitherto has not existed.

The cost of the Save Our Rail Plan will be significantly less. This will mean that the balance of any Federal funding is potentially available to fund broader improvements to integrated transport in the CBD and the Lower Hunter, including the Glendale Interchange.

Save Our Rail will demonstrate that it is more cost efficient to retain the rail line into Newcastle than to terminate it at Wickham, that the patronage of the rail service would be dramatically reduced due to a ‘blow out’ in travelling times into the city, that the youth, elderly, disabled and businesses in the Civic and mall areas would be disadvantaged and that parking problems in the city would be exacerbated.

Put simply, Save Our Rail’s proposal is superior to that of GPT because it includes a greater number of access routes between Hunter St and the Honeysuckle/Foreshore area, without the loss of the rail line.

Furthermore, it would be a ‘win/win’ situation for not only the residents of Newcastle but for those living within the growing Maitland and Lake Macquarie regions who are using the rail line into Newcastle in increasing numbers due to the growing congestion on major link roads. With the development proposed for the mall Save Our Rail predicts that rail patronage will increase significantly as more people use the service for recreational purposes.

Save Our Rail maintains that now is the time for the business community to realise the great potential the rail line offers them, that it is a means of directly transporting people from local residential areas into a vibrant recreational and retail hub. It remains eager and willing to collaborate with business and government on any development or revitalisation project in Newcastle, Central Coast and the Hunter.

Therefore Save Our Rail rejects the assertion that the development of the Hunter Mall and Newcastle West is not economically viable or that the development will not proceed unless the rail line is terminated at Wickham.

Finally, Save Our Rail condemns the arrogance of GPT in demanding that the State Government changes its policy of retaining the line into Newcastle. If the community and the Government bows to this demand we consider that a dangerous precedent will be have been set in our region.

Save Our Rail applauds the stance taken by Ms Jodie McKay, Minister for the Hunter and Member for Newcastle in rejecting GPT’s bid to ‘rail road’ the government and the community of Newcastle, Central Coast and the Hunter.

Kim Cross.
Vice – President.
Save Our Rail Inc. (NSW).
Mobile: 0407 919 807