Newcastle Greens call on Premier to announce collaborative approach on rail future

22 September 2011

Newcastle Greens today called on the NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell, to use his visit to Newcastle today to reassure the Newcastle community that valuable transport dollars would not wasted on cutting the city’s rail line and intercity rail services to Newcastle station.

“It’s time for the Premier to end mounting speculation (fuelled by recent comments by the head of Infrastructure NSW and former Liberal Premier of NSW, Nick Greiner) that his government intends to cut the Newcastle rail line and to replace current intercity rail services with a forced interchange onto a poorly conceived and expensive light rail system, that would waste public money and lose passengers,” Newcastle Greens spokesperson John Sutton said.

“Mr O’Farrell should be working on a collaborative approach to the future of the rail line, and on sensible and relatively inexpensive initiatives to establish appropriate access across the rail line and landscaping the rail corridor between Wickham and Newcastle.

“Scarce transport dollars should be spent on improving the city’s bus services, where there are real opportunities to increase public transport use, and on upgrading our cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, to encourage people to use these more sustainable transport modes.

“If Mr O’Farrell is thinking of cutting the Newcastle rail line to pander to local vested interests, he will have the same fight on his hands as previous Coalition and Labor governments have faced from the local community on this issue,” Mr Sutton said.

“After years of a Labor state government that refused to listen and work with the community on this issue, and insisted instead on pursuing unworkable and illogical schemes to cut the rail line, the current government has the opportunity to find a better way through this divisive issue, and should be working on a collaborative approach that will make the most effective use of scarce public transport dollars to genuinely improve the city’s public transport system.

“It’s worrying that we haven’t yet seen any sign of such an approach, and the people of Newcastle will be understandably horrified if the Premier makes a pre-emptive announcement about cutting the city’s rail line with yet another Macquarie St “solution” involving glossy looking but fanciful, expensive and ineffective schemes that amount to cuts in passenger numbers and loss of public assets,” Mr Sutton said.

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For more information or comment, contact John Sutton (co-spokesperson Newcastle Greens) on 0411 154 004

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