Letter to Premier re: trial cut of Newcastle rail line

The Premier of NSW
The Hon Barry O’Farrell, MP

Dear Mr O’Farrell, Save Our Rail calls on Government to trial cut of Newcastle rail line

Save Our Rail NSW Inc has issued a media release, (attached) which calls on the Government of NSW to carry out a trial of any proposed replacement system intended for the Newcastle Rail Line prior to making a final decision on its future. This call is asking that full costing and thorough evaluations be undertaken simulating as nearly as possible the proposed transport provision, so that the most responsible decision is made on the expenditure of public money.

Save Our Rail understands there are many who believe it would be in the best interests of the city of Newcastle to truncate the rail at a point between Broadmeadow and Newcastle. SOR does not believe it would benefit either the city of Newcastle or the community at large, including the Hunter Region, the Central Coast or indeed the State of NSW.

We have concluded that the only way to determine the benefit or otherwise of truncating the rail line is to run a genuine trial, over a reasonable period of time, for instance we suggest each weekend for 10 weeks. The closure would need to simulate as closely as possible the proposed truncation, its location and the full transport replacement as envisaged. During the trial, full assessments of its effects would need to be undertaken using rigorous procedures, to test the reality of what is being proposed to the Government by many advisors and stakeholders.

At this time no one has released a fully detailed bus operations plan to replace rail into Newcastle. This needs to be a part of the testing program – fully costed as to bus provision and ongoing running costs. As well as all factors of traffic and business implications would need to be considered.

We ask you to undertake this trial to ensure that public funding is used for maximum benefit to the community as a whole and that the NSW Government is shown to be genuine in the statement of its Targets in the 2021 plan. In particular the targets re accountability, transparency and giving the community a say in decisions. We also draw attention to statements by the minister for Transport that customer satisfaction is a priority in transport planning. A true evaluation of the replacement program would give an indication of this important factor.

Save Our Rail has always initiated and supported proposals for improvement and we earnestly request that you bring this proposal forward urgently for consideration by the members of The Cabinet, concerned Members of Parliament and relevant officers serving the Government.

Yours sincerely,
Joan Dawson,
President, Save Our Rail NSW Inc.