“Appalling!” is the response by the President of Save Our Rail Maitland, Kim Cross, to the apparent announcement by the state government that Maitland rail passengers will be diverted to Broadmeadow and bussed into the Newcastle CBD from December this year.
“At a meeting with UrbanGrowth on Thursday it was confirmed that the government planned to divert Maitland passengers to Broadmeadow before and during the construction of the Wickham interchange. However despite the fact that the representatives of the government were asked when the diversion of Maitland passengers would occur and whether, based on the previous government’s advice it could take up to 3 years for the interchange to be built, representatives of UrbanGrowth and Transport refused to be drawn on timeframes. Now, 48 hours later, it is revealed in the media that ‘transport works’ will start in December and the construction of the interchange will take between 2 and 3 years”, Mrs Cross went on to say.
The representative of Save Our Rail is stunned that her organisation and the Maitland community have not been consulted about the government plans to terminate rail services at Broadmeadow for such a lengthy period, let alone be treated as a stakeholder in the decision making process. “At the end of last year the Transport Minister, Ms Berijiklian, when the Parliament debated the 11,000 signature petition to keep heavy rail services into Newcastle station, declared that she wanted to work with Save Our Rail. However at the cabinet meeting in February we applied to speak to the Premier and were refused. We have spoken to the Transport Minister but not a word was mentioned about ‘initial transport works’ commencing in December and the rail passengers’ fate in the meantime. At the cabinet meeting our member, Robyn Parker, who was the chair, did not give anyone from our group the call to enable us to ask a question in the open forum and we have not heard hide nor hair from her since the debate in October last year.”
Despite the announcement of the fate of the Hunter’s passenger services Save Our Rail vows to keep fighting to keep rail on track into Newcastle Station for the people of Maitland, Hunter and the Central Coast. Mrs Cross declared that “The government does not have a mandate to build the Wickham interchange and throw rail commuters off the train at Broadmeadow for up to 3 years. Before her election Robyn Parker and Mr Souris were clear in their support for the retention of rail into Newcastle, Newcastle MP Tim Owen did not run a ‘cut the line’ campaign and such an intention was certainly not expressed to me by Premier O’Farrell when he rode the train from Newcastle to Maitland Stations with Robyn Parker and I before the election. Therefore I call on the government to delay the commencement of the project until after the election to allow the community to vote on whether they support the destruction of well used public infrastructure in the form of Newcastle Rail Line.”
For further information or comment please contact:-
Vice President Save Our Rail NSW Inc.
Mobile 0407 919 807