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Baird govt's Newcastle rail betrayal delivers for Liberal's developer mates

Lee Rhiannon 23 Dec 2014

The Greens NSW are passionate backers of the community action to retain the Newcastle rail line. This is a link to my latest media release.

At a time when the Baird government is fast losing credibility with the Hunter electorate, you'd think that they'd be more cautious about their plans to cut the Newcastle rail line - a plan designed to deliver prime harbour side land to the Liberals' developer mates.

Yet without a cost-benefit analysis and without any set date for the development of the promised light rail that is supposed to replace the current service into Newcastle, the NSW Coalition government has gone ahead and declared they'll be cutting train services on Boxing Day.

The community have been fighting successive Liberal/National and Labor government plans to cut this rail line for over two decades.

I feel very strongly about this issue. Public transport should be expanded, not cut, as the Baird government is intent on doing.

In December 2004 I was in Newcastle when Labor's Minister for the Hunter, Michael Costa announced the train services would be cut. We held a quickly arranged media conference on Newcastle railway station with many locals.

I pursued Minister Costa about the issue in the NSW Legislative Council. 

This rail line is a developer's dream as it sits quite close to the harbour's water edge. Property giant GPT pulled out of plans for major developments in Newcastle's CBD when the government at the time failed to rip up the rail line.

Over the past decade, developers' desire to get their hands on public land has persisted, and the recent announcement by Premier Mike Baird that his government will allow development in the rail corridor has validated the long term concerns of the community and the Greens that ripping up the rail is more about real estate than it is about effective and efficient public transport.

The Baird government's move to cut the rail line runs counter to the trend in overseas cities, where the use of rail is increasing as people favour public transport over cars in order to avoid hefty parking fees and congested roads.

The NSW Liberals and Nationals are in lock step with the Abbott government which has implemented a policy to only fund roads and not public transport.

The Baird government's plan to cut the Newcastle rail line will create major traffic and parking problems, which will be further exacerbated with the construction of the new University campus in the city.

The Greens have long campaigned to keep the rail line into Newcastle and in support of an increase in government investment in public transport.

To support the campaign to save Newcastle's rail, see:
Save Our Rail
Greens MP and transport spokesperson Mehreen Faruqi Save Newcastle Rail campaign
Greens MP David Shoebridge's ‘Half a dozen reasons to keep Newcastle rail'



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