Rail line rip up is a rip off – Media Release 04/07/2014

“Gladys Berejiklian’s latest Media release seems to be lifted from “Yes Minister.”   She makes an announcement that tells us nothing new – we already have known since Hazzard was planning Minister that the NSW Government intended to truncate the Newcastle Rail Line with an interchange at Wickham.

Now she announces that trains will stop running on Boxing Day and truncation work can begin while the service is stopped. Hang on a bit, this simply means the Track Work schedule has been put back a month. There had been a scheduled two week stoppage from 22nd November to 5th December, which was assumed to be the start of the process. That has now been changed to 26th December and beyond.  You might ask why.

This is my question for Gladys, says Joan Dawson, “Is the delay because your Transport people have no idea how they are going to implement this decision, made without consultation with them or anyone else?”

There is no evidence of planning – the light rail route was to go via Bellevue Street and down Hunter Street, then it was to go down the Mall, now it’s supposed to throw a dog-leg at Worth Place and go via Hunter and Scott Streets.

First they were going to stop all the trains at Broadmeadow in the interim, then they were going to stop electrics at Broadmeadow and diesels at Hamilton, now no one seems to know what is happening.  There have been no plans released; no evidence of benefit or disadvantage; no research has gone into the effects on passengers; no traffic study, no examination of effects of Railway Street crossing closure; no feasibility study;  no cost/benefit analysis; no environmental impact study.

Ms Berejiklian speaks of having more details of an interim bus plan in the coming months – even that is not finalised.   It’s a planning mess!

If any of the above essential steps have been taken they have not been released to the public which has been kept in the dark.

Where is the transparency and why is this major change being done without proper planning processes?  If I built a room onto my home I would have been required to have submitted plans and had various aspects examined for approval. How can such a huge project be going ahead without any vital assessments?

Save Our Rail has undertaken more research towards its transport proposals than the Government has done to justify ripping up a rail line.

The public has been treated in a very high handed manner with decisions made with no consultation and simply imposed onto the electorate with no evidence of any benefit.

These are decisions which will have profound effects on the lives of many who use the rail services.

Even Ms Berejiklian’s statements are an insult to the intelligence. She says truncating the line at Wickham will help “bring jobs, residents and visitors to the city centre.” Really?  Cutting off the direct transport will have exactly the opposite effect – making it more difficult to access the city will deter many tourists and would-be settlers.

She states that 11 new pedestrian and road crossings will be delivered. These could be installed now across the existing rail line, provided they met national safety standards. And the statement that “existing railway level crossings between Wickham and the beach … will be permanently open.” There is only one such crossing, Merewether Street, and it will still be subject to control measures no matter what sort of train runs on the line.

The final insult is the assurance of a “seamless interchange.” This is an oxymoron – an interchange cannot be seamless. Staying on the train all the way to Newcastle is seamless; getting off to climb onto a bus certainly cannot be.

The plan to cut the city off to revitalise it is a fraudulent rip-off.  Newcastle will not wear it. Save Our Rail has strengthened its resolve to fight on behalf of the community to retain its valuable transport link to Newcastle from the Hunter Region and Sydney’s tourist potential.  

For further information or comment please contact:-

Joan Dawson
President Save Our Rail NSW Inc.
Mobile 0408 618 198