Opinion: It’s time to stand up and stop plans to cut rail line

The Maitland Mercury has published another editorial opposing the Boxing Day truncation of the heavy rail to Newcastle. They want to hear your story so speak up.

Commuters from the wider Hunter are getting the raw end of the deal with plans to cut the rail line into Newcastle CBD.

Considering the level of discontent about the decision across the region, The Mercury thinks the government should postpone work until after the March election so Hunter residents can make their feelings known at the ballot box.

Many residents of towns outside Newcastle rely on trains to get into the city for work, leisure, legal and medical appointments.

They face fewer public transport alternatives, more expensive petrol and have further to travel to the city than their suburban Newcastle friends.

This newspaper has spoken with commuters, politicians of all persuasions and rail workers about the rail cut, but none of these people alone have the power to make sure the wider Hunter is heard.

While Maitland MP Robyn Parker was part of the cabinet that made the decision, she no longer holds a ministerial position.

So we went to the top and contacted Premier Mike Baird this week.

When asked why he would not stall the rail closure and take the issue to the March election, given the public backlash, his office answered its own questions and told The Mercury that the government was committed to delivering its promises.

Mr Baird’s office also declined a phone interview.

A newspaper’s job is to advocate for its readers when they need it most.

The Singleton Argus, The Scone Advocate, Cessnock Advertiser, Muswellbrook Chronicle and Dungog Chronicle have pledged to stand with The Mercury to fight for the chance to vote on one of the region’s most crucial infrastructure decisions in recent memory.

SOR urges you to make your voice heard. The Maitland Mercury is asking that you contact journalist Nick Bielby at nick.bielby@fairfaxmedia.com.au or submit a Letter to the Editor, if you feel strongly about the subject — “before it’s too late”.