NSW Govt stonewall about HDC’s Hawes property interests

Save Our Rail is determined to see Baird change his tune. The Newcastle Herald reports that NSW Premier Mike Baird says nothing will derail the December 26 Newcastle rail line removal, despite embarrassing admissions by a government official at a parliamentary inquiry and further revelations about a key player’s Newcastle property interests. … Mr Baird, ...

Wickham interchange traffic chaos

Wickham interchange traffic chaos
IT’S already among Newcastle’s most congested and frustrating traffic intersections, but a draft report suggests the planned Wickham rail interchange will make Stewart Avenue’s intersection with Hunter Street even more of a nightmare, reports the Newcastle Herald. … It shows that three of the four right-hand turn  options currently at the intersection could be eliminated ...

Millions spent on transport reports government wont release

THE state government has spent more than $4 million on reports and advice for its Newcastle transport plans but is yet to release the documents underpinning its decisions or give an estimated cost, a month before it starts removing the heavy rail, reports the Newcastle Herald. … But none of the documents have been released ...

Editorial: Time to see the rail papers

The Newcastle Herald’s editorial column is calling on the NSW government to release all of its railway papers, without delay. [SOR does not agree with the editorial’s focus on re-examination of Woodville Junction but welcomes the paper’s demand of all rail papers to be made public.] The parliamentary committee chaired by Fred Nile MLC  … ...

Senate calls on NSW Govt to reverse Newcastle rail line decision

The Greens are claiming a win in the fight to save Newcastle’s rail line, with the Senate passing a motion to call on the state government to reverse its decision, reports ABC News Newcastle. The rail is due to be truncated on Boxing Day, with Premier Mike Baird telling a planning inquiry that any delays ...

UrbanGrowth agency examines rail land potential

State-owned development agency UrbanGrowth has admitted it is looking into a ‘‘number of uses’’ for the city’s rail corridor land and ways of ‘‘activating’’ the area around the existing Newcastle railway station through redevelopment, as reported in the Newcastle Herald. ‘‘We will be undertaking some work to understand what those opportunities may be and actually ...

IMPORTANT: HDC’s own figures show that keeping the rail is the economically superior option

IMPORTANT: HDC's own figures show that keeping the rail is the economically superior option
Hunter Development Corporation’s 2009 Cost Benefit Analysis was flawed and misleading, as demonstrated in SOR’s response to HDC report (pages 19-21), as copied below. [SOR update 24/11/2014: The Newcastle Herald reported that University of Newcastle representatives Nat McGregor (chief operating officer) told the Parliamentary Inqury that the rail line “never came into the business case” ...

Hawes’s firm prepared rail cut report instrumental in rail cut decision

As reported in the Maitland Mercury, Bob Hawes was one of two directors of a company in 2009 that Hunter Development Corporation paid almost $50,000 to prepare a report for the state government, which recommended the removal of the Newcastle heavy rail line at Wickham. This was before he became HDC general manager. Mr Hawes ...

Don’t cut rail and run

Ian Kirkwood writes about the Newcastle rail line and parliamentary inquiry in this piece in the Newcastle Herald. … Now, with Labor back in power in Newcastle, the rail issue is again political dynamite and I will not be surprised if Premier Mike Baird pulls the pin on his government’s decision in the coming days. ...

Push to sink the rail line

At a time when the Premier Mike Baird has stopped short of ruling out delaying Newcastle’s rail line truncation, debate is continuing around sinking the line, reports ABC News Newcastle. Mr Baird has told a parliamentary planning inquiry delaying the rail decision would cost $220,000 a week. The inquiry has also been told that sinking ...

Inquiry on the planning process in Newcastle and the Hunter region hearing #2

Here are some highlights of the second hearing of the Inquiry into the Planning Process in Newcastle and the Hunter Region, as reported on the Newcastle Herald’s live blog. University of Newcastle representatives Nat McGregor (chief operating officer) … tells Labor’s Lynda Voltz the university has no position in the rail line debate and is ...

Newcastle rail line: Government keeps reports secret

A string of key reports underpinning plans to cut Newcastle’s heavy rail line and install light rail are being kept under wraps, as reported in the Newcastle Herald. The government was supposed to produce about a dozen reports relating to various aspects of the major project, including a cost-benefit analysis, in line with an order ...

City campus savaged on parking

[SOR comment: Wickham terminus is predicted to lose 23% of current patronage by Government’s own underestimated figures. Keeping rail would reduce pressure on already limited CBD parking.] THE Roads and Maritime Service has savaged the University of Newcastle’s proposed city campus, saying the plan has failed to properly assess traffic conditions in the city’s central ...

HDC chief and a $30 million rail conflict

An application has been approved to build a block of units worth about $60 million on land near the Wickham rail corridor, part-owned by Hunter Development Corporation general manager Bob Hawes, reports the Maitland Mercury. Newcastle City Council received the DA to build the nine-storey unit block in Beresford Street in 2009. The street runs parallel ...

Government approves own plans for Wickham “carport on steroids” (a.k.a. terminus)

The Newcastle Herald reports that the state government has approved its own plans for a new transport interchange at Wickham but has promised to reconsider the design, after a barrage of criticisms of an artist’s impression image of the project. … About 280 submissions were made. Many were critical of the idea of cutting the ...

City’s future plotted by ‘shadow government’

The Newcastle Herald reports that, according to newly released documents, a ‘‘Master Planning Group’’ composed of developers, property investors, elected representatives and public servants held meetings to plot the future of Newcastle. The documents appear to show that members of the group included then lord mayor Jeff McCloy, city general manager Ken Gouldthorp, Hunter Development ...

Hawes was instrumental in giving $60m to govt to investigate rail cut

The Maitland Mercury reports that a public servant at the centre of a conflict of interest allegation over the Newcastle rail cut was on a board that gave the state government $60 million to help make its decision. Hunter Development Corporation general manager Bob Hawes was a member of the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund ...

NSW Government refuses to release Newcastle rail cost benefit papers

Greens NSW MP and Transport spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, has questioned what is the Government hiding after it appears to be hiding documents relating to the truncation of the Newcastle Rail line. The NSW Parliament last month passed Dr Faruqi’s motion demanding the release of a range of papers, the vast majority of which ...

HDC chief denies conflict of interest in rail cut decision

An article and online poll in the Maitland Mercury regarding the GM of HDC: The head of a state government agency advocating the removal of Newcastle rail line has denied having a conflict of interest, despite telling a parliamentary inquiry that he partially owns properties near the future Wickham transport interchange. Hunter Development Corporation general ...

Rail hearing told survey was flawed

As reported in the Maitland Mercury, advocates for retaining the train line between Wickham and Newcastle have had their say to the committee set up to investigate recent planning decisions in the Hunter. … Save Our Rail vice-president Kim Cross was one of the witnesses who fronted the inquiry in the afternoon to give the ...