Newcastle Rail Line: Announcements

 
  tezza Chief Commissioner

You are only allowed one vote in a Newcastle Herald poll.
 At midnight voting was 73% YES vote in favour of extending the Light Railway,with a 27% NO vote against improving public transport.

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  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

Tezza, you don't seem to understand. When I first saw that article, I ticked NO, then pressed submit, it was then that the poll showed 100% YES after I pressed submit.

Secondly, cutting the rail line in any matter is NOT improving public transport - Auckland is the best example of what happens when you do, as it is a similar set up to Newcastle. Developers have now seen the advantage of their CBD railway, that had to be put back. (Very expensive lesson for Auckland to learn)

But most importantly, this is nothing more than a land grab by certain developers.

Example, look at the former Royal Newcastle Hospital site (that did not need air conditioning), and now it seems that developers maybe and/or are after the land that the Stockton Hospital sits on.
  tezza Chief Commissioner

When you see a Members Bill tabled in  State Parlaiment closing the railway line then you will have something to complain about.
Nothing wrong with closing the Newcastle one and imroving the John Hunter where it is centralised and easier for people to access.Same with Stockton, why have a hospital in the middle of nowhere that few people will use
  tezza Chief Commissioner

An announcement will be made shortly regarding the Newcastle rail line.

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1977497/ofarrell-promises-to-unveil-light-rail-plan-by-christmas/?cs=303
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

Not a land grab??

Almost immediately the proposed terminus began drifting west, with some voices calling for Broadmeadow – an option that would free up the *> maximum amount of real estate for redevelopment
Herald Editorial (22:30, 17 Dec 2013)

Now McCloy for obvious reasons (a land grab for valuable real estate) wants it to go along Hunter St. This picture (http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3789/9443621326_5b5591fc8a_h.jpg) surely must prove something.
  tezza Chief Commissioner

Government announces Newcastle Light Rail.

It's Wickam as the interchange.

http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-23/government-releases-light-rail-preferences-for-newcastle/5171942
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

And greedy developers are still after the rail land.
  tezza Chief Commissioner
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
NSW transport announcement here.  Note there's a linked fact sheet.  More details supposedly coming in the new year.

In the fact sheet it says "Buses will provide access to the Newcastle city centre until the completion of light rail", which, if I interpret correctly, is a change from assumptions in studies from a few years back.  If I recall correctly one of the reasons that the capital costs of the mode switch was previously perhaps higher than expected was the assumption that the light rail would have to be completed to a reasonable degree while the rail service continued to operate, with perhaps only a few weeks or so bustitution for the final cut-over.  The need to work around (and perhaps even convert "in-situ") an operating corridor adds lots of complexity and expense.

This reads more like they are planning to close the existing line before they start a material amount of light rail construction.  I've no idea what it takes to build a couple of kilometres of light rail and associated infrastructure, but I guess you might be looking at some months (?) of interruption.  That's probably sensible from a cost to taxpayer point of view, but I doubt that will go down well with affected passengers.  From their point of view this is not short term pain for long term gain... it's short term pain for long term pain.

Some of the justifications listed in the fact sheet for the Wickham interchange decision (versus Broadmeadow or Hamilton) are strange - some of them have nothing to do with the choice of Wickham over the other sites.  

While I don't think this change to light rail makes much sense in isolation, I don't subscribe to the developer land-grab conspiracy theory.  A developer looking for land in Newcastle has a number of dilapidated buildings to choose from, with a block shape that is much more amenable to a new building than the odd shape of a rail corridor.

$340 million for at most three kilometres of at grade line in existing corridor, plus a few vehicles, all just to create an isolated system to replace existing services with plenty of spare capacity.  I'd love to see the cost/benefit for that one.

In the fact sheet there seems to be an emphasis on Wickham as the new Newcastle CBD (we're not cutting the rail link to the CBD - we're just moving the CBD, and the rail link goes with it!).  In some respects this move is the only way the project makes sense - in the long term you don't intend for the majority of passengers to transfer from the heavy to the light rail service (which means that you'd need to marry the capacity and timetable of the two services tightly together, which I can't see working), instead they end up as two separate services feeding the one major destination.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

... I don't subscribe to the developer land-grab conspiracy theory.  A developer looking for land in Newcastle has a number of dilapidated buildings to choose from, with a block shape that is much more amenable to a new building than the odd shape of a rail corridor.
donttellmywife
AIUI, most of those lobbying for the rail cut own land directly or indirectly adjacent the rail corridor, and this is 100% the agenda driving this.  The fact the land won't/can't be made available to them seems to be neither here nor there.  I guess they feel it'll be easier to get land disposal legislation through the NSW senate once the rail line has ceased to function.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

While I don't think this change to light rail makes much sense in isolation, I don't subscribe to the developer land-grab conspiracy theory.
donttellmywife
Oh no, not a land grab? Developers have already stated they don't want anything whatsoever either on, above or below the rail land - I can thing of only one reason why.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
AIUI, most of those lobbying for the rail cut own land directly or indirectly adjacent the rail corridor, and this is 100% the agenda driving this.  The fact the land won't/can't be made available to them seems to be neither here nor there.  I guess they feel it'll be easier to get land disposal legislation through the NSW senate once the rail line has ceased to function.
djf01
That seems an incredibly indirect and risky route.  For all they know the land might be (I'd go so far as to say "likely to be") tied up in a landscaped version of the former corridor for decades.  Lobbying for a cut to the line is one thing, lobbying for a change in tenure is quite another.  Note also, that one of the current options for the light rail is to re-use the corridor.

I think a far more likely motivation is antagonism to the delay associated with the Stewart Avenue (mostly) and other level crossings.  I recall seeing some sort of discussion paper from perhaps 15 years ago to this effect - discussing vehicle capacity along the Pacific Highway - Stewart Avenue route in the context of the rail crossing.

But I hate guessing at motivation in the absence of an explicit statement.  I think it is pointless - evaluate the proposal on its merits as they stand.  At the moment - I don't see the merit.  Happy to be convinced otherwise.

(Arguments about connectivity to the foreshore suffer from the fact that up with the rail line, Hunter Street and the presence of the ridge line that King Street sits on on one side were also seen as issues for foreshore accessibility.  Significantly truncating vehicular access to the Newcastle peninsula strikes me as being a step backwards for rejuvenation - similarly while engaging in the necessary large scale open cut mining (in order to remove the topography barrier) is certainly possible (given latent capability in the region) it is probably not desirable.)

It sh*ts me to a great degree the amount of money and state resources (university relocation, legal precincts, etc..), that is being thrown at a fairly miniscule and increasingly irrelevant region of the broader Hunter in order to "rejuvenate" it.  If I was magically appointed glorious dictator of NSW I'd just hand the $340 million bill for light rail over to the Newcastle City Council and say "you want -- you pay".  I imagine at that point in time the issue would completely evaporate.  If not, good on them for having some real conviction.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

I have an "interesting picture" of "Back Flip Barry" that I have been given permission to show. But I need to find where I put it/download it, etc. I will do that later though.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

Proof that McCloy & developer Co are indeed after the rail land.

See: http://www.railpage.com.au/news/article-13549/

Hunter Development Corporation chief executive Bob Hawes said a Wickham interchange would also boost interest in its undeveloped land at Cottage Creek and encourage private sector investment.

Their is only ONE reason I can see why he wants this option.

Need we say anymore?
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Proof that McCloy & developer Co are indeed after the rail land.

See: http://www.railpage.com.au/news/article-13549/

Newcastle Express
I don't see how the underlined part of the quote, or the entire linked article, proves anything.

Hunter Development Corporation is a state government body.  It already "owns" land in the area of the proposed interchange (the land being referred to was most likely part of the former port) and it has been tasked by the state government to develop that land.  This has nothing to do with land that makes up the current rail corridor.

The only reference to the corridor proper is "The heavy rail corridor just needs to be landscaped with turf and fountains, and equipped with paths for people and bikes."

That said, I don't understand the enthusiasm being shown for street running.  Remediation of the existing corridor is not going to be cheap.  I think that reconstruction of a light rail line along the same corridor would considerably reduce some of that remediation requirement.  The distance between the two corridors is pretty nominal - I can't see how it would make much difference to patronage.

If the property council and NCC mayor are so keen for the higher cost option - then perhaps they can be tapped for a bit of the necessary funding.
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
The Corridor should be kept in public hands in case this fails and they want trains back, I can't see making people change making things easier for the public to access the city because its obviously not.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

I don't see how the underlined part of the quote, or the entire linked article, proves anything.
donttellmywife
Back in December 2012 NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard formally announced "I can make it very clear, 100%, that our intent is that it (rail corridor) stays in public ownership for the long haul," However he then went on to indicate that although there's no intent whatsoever to go handing it over to developers he won't rule out the government considering a "brilliant idea" in the future from a developer.
A comment on the Herald site
He also said on a radio interview, that if someone twists his arm enough, he could/would be willing to sell it/hand it over.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
I'm sorry, comments on newspaper articles do not count as a reliable source.
  a6et Minister for Railways

I do not understand nor see the point of spending millions to convert the existing HR between Wickham & NCLE to LR, the costs for the interchange at Wickham also does not add up.

For costs benefits alone, road bridges can be built in order to eliminate the so called rail crossing congestions, also if really needed some more passenger bridges.

There is still room at NCLE station area for the LR system to link up with HR, spend less to get basically the same result.  What cost to rip up streets to have tram tracks put?
  tezza Chief Commissioner

Yes a6et , you have made it bleedin obvious you do not understand, many times. It is also obvious you do not live in the Newcastle area.
Apart from tying to improve the transport link to the beaches with additional stops along the route, the planners are also trying to improve the visual appearance of the city and improve access from Hunter Street to the foreshore.
How will the city ever be "beautified" or "improved" with concrete road overbridges and pedestrian overpasses?
There will be a dozen extra road and pedestrian access points from Hunter street to the foreshore at "ground level" when the heavy rail "Berlin Wall" is eradicated.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

A6set, it's tezza that doesn't understand that this. I have other reliable sources &, info that the developers after the rail land.
  tezza Chief Commissioner

For nearly two years you havent listed one thing from a reliable source yet Newcastle  Express
  8603 Locomotive Driver

Location: Canberra
I've watched this forum very closely and have, for lack of a better word, enjoyed the comments.  But having recently been to Newcastle I can honestly say that something needs to be done to revitalise the city centre. It was a ghost town. Plain and simple.

Access to the waterfront will be vital in the revitalisation process (I'm not a developer by the way) and if light rail is put back into Hunter Street, note put back, then it will be a great thing for the city.  I can't wait to see the transformation take place. In fact I wish it'd happen sooner.
  Tuscan Junior Train Controller

Location: Sydney, NSW
I can't for the life of me see how they expect any of this to work. Replacing a fast transport system with a slower system that you have to change to isn't going to encourage people to come to city. Putting it down and clogging up Hunter st is an even worse idea (if people actually come back there will be cars everywhere too). The great saying 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' comes to mind.
The problem is: there's simply nothing to do there. That's the real issue. - The railway was never a problem back when Hunter st was thriving, in fact it kept the area less congested than they could of been (and congestion was a problem!) It brought people in from the outer suburbs and surrounding areas without them bringing cars.

If re-vitalising the city's center is at the fore-front of all of this then; removing red tape, removing excessive fees for liquor licenses (in NCL CBD it's rediculous) re-zoning for bars and pubs to be allowed to make noise and reducing shop rent prices are all the right ingredients for a re-vitalisation. All thriving city centers have bars and pubs, and with them come live music, restaurants, cafes and shops. Most people forget: A thriving city center cannot be 'designed' or 'forced' they need to grow by themselves, with businesses being encouraged and assisted by council.

Another very strange thing is a geologist friend of mine has also said that mines were never allowed to be put beneath the railway corridor, so there isn't the need for the typical strengthening that usuaully has to happen for large building foundations in Newcastle. The push for the light rail to go down Hunter st is very fishy (almost absurd) and that information makes me wonder just that bit more.
  Showtime Chief Train Controller

Replacing the HR with LR will not do anything to "revitalise" the CBD.
It's just a waste of $340M
The CBD is dead and it will stay dead because it is no longer relevant to Newcastle shoppers or businesses.
When I was a young fellow I would get on a bus at Waratah and travel to "town"
You had no choice if you needed to do any serious shopping.
Now we have shopping centres at Kotara, Charlestown, Waratah, Glendale, Mt Hutton  etc etc.
There are plenty of pubs and clubs in the suburbs for drinking and entertainment.
The old CBD offers nothing that can't be found spread around the burbs (beaches included - Redhead to Swansea!)
The existing rail is serving a purpose and it doesn't need a major input of funds to keep it that way.
Stewart Avenue is a stumbling block and either an underpass or overpass needs to be built.
The remaining crossing at the Civic is tolerable as it is not too far to drive around if you can't wait 5 minutes for a couple of cars to pass by.
Hamilton crossing is a problem I will grant but this crossing will still be there if they waste money on LR anyway so they still have to come up with a solution for this, and I haven't heard any mention of one yet.

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