In the lead up to a ‘Save Our Rail' community meeting tonight, Greens transport spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon has called on the federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese to publicly back the retention of Newcastle rail and to only allocate federal funding for initiatives that will deliver improved public transport and revitalise Newcastle CBD.
Save Our Rail is holding a meeting at 5pm tonight at Hamilton Station Hotel and politicians are invited to "stand with SOR to oppose decision to cut rail line".
"The campaign to retain Newcastle rail is a test for Labor," Senator Rhiannon said.
"Now Premier Barry O'Farrell is after a $100 million federal hand out to cut rail services into Newcastle Minister Albanese should publicly declare his position.
"If Minister Albanese refuses to fund plans to open up the transport corridor to development he will send a clear signal that Labor is committed to breaking with its recent unsavoury history of doing deals with developers.
"The Greens will continue to urge that Minister Albanese is true to his stated commitment to public transport.
"Federal funding should not be provided to pull up the rail track.
"A heavy rail line into the heart of the city is an asset and with planning around people and public transport it will be critical to generating new life and business in the CBD.
"With Newcastle University planning to open a city campus a responsible government should be focused on expanding services not cutting the rail line.
"The O'Farrell government's plans to cover the rail tracks and open up land to development have the stench of deals with developers. Former NSW Labor Treasurer Michael Costa pushed the same policy and failed after widespread community opposition.
"Minister Albanese would be wise to distance Labor from the Coalition plans to terminate rail services at Wickham.
"Either way Minister Albanese should inform the people of the Hunter his response to Premier O'Farrell's request for $100 million to cut the Newcastle rail line," Senator Rhiannon said.