15 March 2010
The weekend state meeting of the NSW Greens in Newcastle has called on the NSW Government to reassure the Hunter community that it will maintain and improve existing rail services to Newcastle station, and not succumb to vested interests lobbying to remove the city’s vital public transport infrastructure.
As the date for the state government’s long-awaited report on the Newcastle rail line approaches and vested interests step up their political pressure to cut the city’s rail line, the Keneally Labor government must make a clear commitment to maintain and upgrade the current rail line and service to Newcastle station, Greens MP and transport spokesperson Lee Rhiannon said.
“The Greens call on Premier Keneally to put people before profits, and not to condemn Newcastle to a car-dependent future for the sake of self-interested developers,” Ms Rhiannon said.
“The NSW Labor government is already on the nose for its failure to adequately plan for and provide public transport infrastructure and services. It can ill-afford another transport policy debacle.
“Retaining and improving Newcastle’s rail transport infrastructure and services will provide a sound basis for the revitalisation and future sustainability of the Newcastle CBD.
“Greens analysis of figures provided by the Government’s own Hunter Development Corporation shows that retaining and improving the rail line is a vastly superior option to cutting it.
“The recent announcement of a major university campus development in Honeysuckle demonstrates more than ever how vital the rail line will be to the city’s future.
“A rail line is essential to deal with the thousands of students who will require transport to a campus that will extend from at least Civic to Wickham,” Ms Rhiannon said.
Ms Rhiannon, who heads The Greens NSW Senate ticket for the forthcoming federal election, also called on the federal government to confirm that any federal infrastructure funding assistance provided to Newcastle will be used to expand and improve the city’s rail system.
“Federal funding for the Newcastle CBD should go to initiatives that will both revitalise Newcastle and deliver improved public transport.
“Worthwhile projects would include narrowing and landscaping the rail line, and installing safe, controlled, at-grade pedestrian crossings between Wickham and Newcastle stations,” Ms Rhiannon said.