Newcastle Rail Line: Announcements

 
  TomBTR Chief Train Controller

Location: near Sydney
From this morning's SMH:

CBDs are for us all, not just suits

(snip)

Seventy years ago, you could do Sydney to Newcastle by steam train in two hours eighteen minutes. Today’s fastest trip is two hours and thirty-six minutes – a full hour, says rail expert Colin Schroeder, longer than necessary.

Yet now, far from installing this faster train, Newcastle’s city fathers are following Sydney’s stupidity, with less excuse and greater expense.

Egged on by local developers, the Baird government proposes to rip up the last, crucial 2.5 kilometres of Newcastle’s rail track, the bit that delivers people right to heart of this lovely little town. Why? Not to improve transport, or the city – but to free the city’s last non-undermined waterfront land for development. Work starts on Boxing Day.

This is nothing short of madness. Elsewhere, cities compete for sustainability, greenhouse reduction, freedom from the car. They measure their self-worth on creating clean, fast, dignified transit. Not Newcastle.

Newcastle has excellent bones. Its pretty, gridded sandstone core drapes over a headland set between river and ocean. Sure, the surrounding sprawl is ugly, but rail lets you ignore all that, popping up like a meerkat right in its heart. Newcastle is as close to a European-style town as you’ll find in this country.

Developer-governments want to change all that. Mayor Jeff McCloy megaphoned the rail idea back in 2011, when (according to ICAC counsel Geoffrey Watson, SC) he was still just some multimillionaire developer – and prohibited political donor – summoning local parliamentary candidates like Tim Owen into his soft-top Bentley for wads of hundred-dollar bills.

ICAC’s ongoing Operation Spicer has heard evidence suggesting all sorts of sinister links between developers such as McCloy and Nathan Tinkler, politicians including Tim Owens and Joe Tripodi, and the friendly-fire campaign – ''stop Jodi’s trucks'' – to winkle Labor MP Jodi McKay from office. Less a can of worms, all this, than a pit of ruthless trouser snakes.

None of it furthers the public interest. Indeed, if we, the public, stand by, it will destroy a system that could benefit Newcastle’s city economy a thousand times more than all the third-rate high-rises those guys can erect between them.

We should demand a moratorium, halting all inner-city rezoning, development approvals and rail-destruction until ICAC sheds its light. We should demand that Sydney’s voting rules apply equally to everyone.

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  PKBeam Locomotive Driver

Location: Somewhere in NSW
I guess the proof of the pudding is not always under the crust...
  steam3801 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Newcastle
Yeah because everyone wants trams up Hunter street to slow traffic to a crawl.
They need to bring back Toronto and Cessnock trains so Newcastle is used like it was supposed to be used.
Junction box


Slow traffic to a crawl (in Hunter St)?? What traffic???

".. like it was supposed to be used." How was it supposed to be?? The concept of a single shopping centre + CBD in Newcastle area is outdated. It's dead - Kotara, Charlestown, Jesmond, Glendale, Wallsend et al have seen to that.

If people want to live in the past then go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/LostNewcastle/ .

Newcastle has grown up, has moved on. The poky little branch line from Hamilton to Newcastle is an anachronism, a dinosaur of a bygone era and totally superfluous to what once was the Newcastle city precincts.

So here's the plan - open up the foreshore, open up the northern side of Hunter St into parkland (incl. the light rail service) and support any sort of low-medium height development along the southern side of Hunter street.
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
What for if there is nobody there?
If you wanna change the landscape and make it a tourist attraction don't you need easy access to encourage visitors?
Isn't the current foreshore a beautified rail yard that packs out during east end events?
Wait and see what happens the following New Years eve when there is no heavy duty transport option, thousands of people walking to Wickham.
  tezza Chief Commissioner

We have already witness thousands of people walking the foreshore to Wickham on Australia Day this year. They came into town on foot, on the packed buses or by car. Very few took the railway option as the service was only hourly if that for a public holiday.
  NotebookMan Assistant Commissioner

Location: Wahroonga NSW
Slow traffic to a crawl (in Hunter St)?? What traffic???

".. like it was supposed to be used." How was it supposed to be?? The concept of a single shopping centre + CBD in Newcastle area is outdated. It's dead - Kotara, Charlestown, Jesmond, Glendale, Wallsend et al have seen to that.

If people want to live in the past then go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/LostNewcastle/ .

Newcastle has grown up, has moved on. The poky little branch line from Hamilton to Newcastle is an anachronism, a dinosaur of a bygone era and totally superfluous to what once was the Newcastle city precincts.

So here's the plan - open up the foreshore, open up the northern side of Hunter St into parkland (incl. the light rail service) and support any sort of low-medium height development along the southern side of Hunter street.
steam3801

The idea of Newcastle as a fully matured community with a single vision in mind is amusing. There are those who want it to become a kind of Port Douglas, and then there are the property developers who have visions of densely packed ten+ storey buildings where the land can support them.

To describe the Newcastle line as a branch line is an abuse of terminology. Of all the passenger services passing through the Newcastle area, only eight a day do not use it. Newcastle station is the operational focus of the area's passenger services. Moving the commercial centre west has some merit, but moving the rail terminus west with it comes at great cost, and is likely to be botched by a government stretched for cash for its projects even with the port lease money. I doubt that they are lying when they say that no more money for Newcastle rail will be forthcoming.

The light rail is fiction, designed to suck in public opinion. There has never been a study done that justifies it as viable. The recent "business case" study assumed the viability of the concept and merely compared routes via the rail corridor with those via Hunter Street. Before that, there was the report to Hunter Development Corporation by that well-known paragon of impartiality, Parsons Brinckerhoff. Even with their strong commitment to cutting the heavy rail, PB (2009) declared that light rail would not be viable as a replacement for another 25 years.

Before that we had the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce (ancestor of the Hunter Business Chamber) in 1995, wanting to revisit the concept of light rail between Newcastle and a heavy rail terminus at Woodville Junction, one of the options that had been suggested by Greiner's steering committee to the Travis Morgan study of 1989. Travis Morgan wrote a whole chapter of their report (1990) explaining why the idea was misguided, and worst by a long way of the half dozen truncation options put to them. NCC developed their own costings and business model which was reviewd by the NSW Department of Transport (1996). DoT criticised heavily every aspect of the NCC proposal (passenger projections, construction costs, assumption that railway land would be gifted to the project and onsold at inflated prices to fund construction, etc.).

The history of Newcastle rail cut proposals has increasingly been characterised by rent-a-liar consultants and/or businessmen who could just about understand how to operate a clockwork Thomas around a circle of HO. You only have to read the Currie review (2005) of the Broadmeadow terminus proposals to see an example of how dubious the methods of the pro rail cut lobby can be.
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
Has anybody realized the amount of traffic Newcastle station deals with each day?
Has anybody given thought about moving the track layout of four platforms and storage sidings to Wickham?
The premier probably thinks they can put in a crossover, change ends and head back.
  NotebookMan Assistant Commissioner

Location: Wahroonga NSW
Has anybody realized the amount of traffic Newcastle station deals with each day?
Has anybody given thought about moving the track layout of four platforms and storage sidings to Wickham?
The premier probably thinks they can put in a crossover, change ends and head back.
Junction box

The Hunter Business Chamber thought about it in the early days of the O'Farrell government, before their rail truncation decision was announced. HBC put out a flyer advocating a three platform layout at Wickham (sorry, "Newcastle Central"), rather than the four proposed in the AECOM preliminary study. The idea was to save money on land acquisitions, so that the whole truncation project could be done on a budget of $120M. On one page HBC claimed that three platforms would handle the necessary number of trains (their "local engineers" had done a simulation to confirm this). On another page they claimed that three platforms would handle the passenger loading for the terminus, apparently oblivious to the fact that you need enough trains to handle the passenger loading for all stations, or else another terminus will be required for the trains that cater for passengers not going to/from the new terminus. Or did they think that trains can just pull over and chuck a u-turn if they aren't going the full distance?
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

Think we need a former politician thread - at this rate, it would be a long thread!

See http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2493078/icac-newcastle-lord-mayor-jeff-mccloy-quits/?cs=303
The Newcastle Herald can reveal that Mr McCloy has decided not to step aside from his role, but resign entirely, effective immediately, meaning the city’s residents will now be heading to the polls three times in the next seven months.

He can't step aside, as he was a term used very very loosely, an "independent". Step aside from what? He could only step aside if he was par of a party, although he was what a number would call "disguised Liberal", especially after when Owen endorsed him at the 2012 council elections.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
I was just thinking could the Newcastle line be elevated and made like Circular Quay or Brisbane's Southbank? The Newcastle line really needs to be seen as a great asset.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Controversial Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy has buckled to pressure and resigned after helping plunge the NSW government into crisis over allegations he made secret payments of $10,000 each to two state MPs who were last week shamed into quitting Parliament.
In a statement, Mr McCloy said he would resign from the position of lord mayor immediately. He had taken the decision because ongoing controversy over his appearance before the Independent Commission Against Corruption "may effect the proper functioning’’ of Newcastle council.


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/newcastle-mayor-jeff-mccloy-quits-before-being-pushed-20140817-105299.html#ixzz3AhEE2bJX
  a6et Minister for Railways

I was just thinking could the Newcastle line be elevated and made like Circular Quay or Brisbane's Southbank? The Newcastle line really needs to be seen as a great asset.
GeoffreyHansen

The better option is to build over sections of the lines & keep the track & lines intact.

Reality is that how much of the so called tourist advertising has any form of showing the city at its best with what is available to the rail traveller on arrival?  There are a couple of good hotels near Civic that can be part of the push, problem though is that there are also too much emphasis on residential high rise apartments, rather than have tourist access to rail & businesses as well at close proximity to the stations.

As one has mentioned an Hourly service on public holidays, is a crazy concept, likewise how many who do the walk from Wickham are tourists rather than the locals getting out for their exercise as families, which is great, but then again go through the week & see how many are doing the same thing in their lunch breaks compared to what is seen in other locations. Reason? simple what does the so called business precinct offer in regard to jobs these days?

The only jobs that will come by the new hair brained development propossals are those in construction, but when its finished, then what?  Attract tourists by telling them to get off a train to a tram & take longer again then it used to take in the slow days of the steam age.
  Stuart Midgley Station Master

Location: Sydney, Australia
The neatest (as in tidiest) option that ticks most boxes would be to sink the line into a cut-and-cover 'tunnel' with an engineered roof and open space/park above. That would allow Newcastle to continue to be served with heavy rail direct from Sydney and open up the foreshore to enhance the urban environment.

As Newcastle grows in future decades the line could then be extended into a tunnelled loop under the city, allowing through-running and an additional station or two serving the southern and western parts of the city as it grows.

The downside is that engineering the cut-and-cover 'sinking' of the current line may be highly expensive depending on the geology (if it's friable soil permeable to water from the harbour).

Still, it may be a thoughtful alternative to the tram proposal. I can't help thinking that the Newcastle-Sydney relationship/traveller volume will only grow over the next thirty years.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

Geoffrey, we have already asked "Carpet Man" & the "Can't-wait-to-get-our-developer-mits-on-the-rail-land" developers, and they have stated "We don't want anything on, below OR ABOVE the rail land, such as a viaduct."

This is the map that was on the table, along with the fold out map, at the so called information (more like lack of) sessions.
Note what is missing.
[img]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3857/14760667010_a1956d3e67_m.jpg[/img]
We asked them how many buses are they going to use on New Years Eve/Day & Asian Games, when 50,000 & 40,000 are expected to attend/visit.

Their "answer" was she silence at first, but then said "Oh, urrrrr 10 buses." Can't say for certain yet, but according to some sources, passengers will not be allowed to stand.

I also asked about less mobile and disabled passengers. "Oh, they will have to 'walk' to the former Museum stop in Hunter St, near Watt St.

What I did notice though, is that I strongly believe that an "artist impression" may have been changed. It looked different to the first session.
  Stuart Midgley Station Master

Location: Sydney, Australia
Geoffrey, we have already asked "Carpet Man" & the "Can't-wait-to-get-our-developer-mits-on-the-rail-land" developers, and they have stated "We don't want anything on, below OR ABOVE the rail land, such as a viaduct."
Newcastle Express


Yes, my 'plan' above would also never get past the developers and their mates in power - a sunken line means no building on the land.
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
Is there any suggestion that the latest ICAC revelations are connected to this project?
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

Edit: If it automatically changes the text size &/or colour of text, I am just going to leave it, unless it affects a link.

And the "information" sessions claim that they expect to have about an extra 10,000 people in the CBD alone, but SOME want to cut the rail line.

On the map in my previous post, you can see on the northern side (Station St) a taxi and possible bus rank. It was shown to them how do these get to Hunter St, as you can't turn right into Hannell St. At first, the "I know nuffink Spin Doctors" said they will go via Railway St. But Railway St gates are to be closed for access to Hunter St.

Here is what they said how they will access Hunter St from the two ranks in Station St. (promise you won't laugh??) http://tinyurl.com/ou5t3b4!

Also note how narrow this "Over-sized-no-wall tin shed "interchange" is to be.

We also asked "but for New Years Eve/Day, where is the temporary bus layover going to be?" ANSWER: More like a stunned look on the spin doctor's faces. They thought we talking about the bus stops!
  a6et Minister for Railways

The more one looks at this whole project the more stupid it looks, I have two of children & their children who live in the NCLE area, neither of them have a desire to see the line close, & they are ones who do go into the harbour area, they use the train as needed but work further out from NCLE precinct itself.

They see the only winners in the whole set up being those with big wallets who can afford the high prices for apartments on the yet to be built high rises, which will dominate the harbour side of the existing line, those behind will lose what view they have, despite any assurances about zoning heights, which will go by the board once its all aprroved.

Look down that the short distance & see how much land will be available for what on the harbour side? most of it is on the western section between Civic & Wickham, meaning the amount that can be built on has to go on each side of Honeysuckle drive, more restaraunts on the harbor side of that road & all the buildings between there & the line, a very narrow amount indeed, unless they intend to strip the narrow section between the line & Hunter st for more high rise.

The thing is, even if that was done, they could still build over the line, & make it all but a one structure set up, perhaps use the rail lines air space as the primary parking area.

The other aspect in all of this is while ICAC has claimed a few proponents of this stupid setup, those left in government are pig headed in their own right, meaning the closure on Boxing day will go ahead & they will ensure a lot of the primary rail infrastructure will be removed & rendered unuseable prior to the next election.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

In reply to a6et's first 2 paragraphs, the photo in this (http://tinyurl.com/k4d843m) shows why developers are after the rail land.
  Showtime Chief Train Controller

Baird is getting real bad advice from someone (Gladys maybe?) and is stating all the proposed developments will still go ahead.
He really needs to get out and have a proper look to find out that the truncation was only being fuelled by the developers and with these gone now he can leave the rail line alone and get on with the projects that need doing
  tezza Chief Commissioner

There is more protection from the elements offered at the Wickham Interchange with the colorbond shed and cafeteria/ waiting room than exists at platform one under the awning at Newcastle today, note that the colorbond at Wickham will cover two tracks plus two platforms.
Additional north-south routes and other roads will also be opened as a result of truncation so a taxi driver getting to Hunter Street will no doubt use Dangar Street, Hannel St and Bellvue Street
  62440 Chief Commissioner

It has been said before but we need to send the pollies to Auckland and find out what it costs when you replace a rail line after truncating to the edge of the CBD. roof it over and build what you like on top.
  a6et Minister for Railways

In reply to a6et's first 2 paragraphs, the photo in this (http://tinyurl.com/k4d843m) shows why developers are after the rail land.
Newcastle Express

I'm not sure that the article shows why the developers are after the land but it does highlight the way the politics is corrupt in many ways.

I would hazard to suggest that the decision by Baird to not stand candidates in the 2 seats is one of stupidity & utter contempt to the people of NCLE at best, rather than saying its cowardice, it actually goes beyond that whereby, the government is more frightened by the events of ICAC that if they stand candidates they will likely lose the seats in a legitimate contest & it could affect them at the next election.

He would be hoping that by not fielding candidates that will appease the voters, but if I was in the electorate I would feel a sense of betrayal, & being seen as not worthy of a vote by a premier who cannot handle the tough areas in politics & chooses to put mini untuths out in the public, a chip off old Dads shoulder I would think, owing to Dads comments during discussions at Glenn Innes years back regarding the closure of the NT line beyond Armidale.

Polititians don't lie, just ask them, its just the way they have in explaining the unexplainable, just get on a coffee shop chair outside the shop & light up a cigar, & blow over everyone as being unworthy.
  a6et Minister for Railways

There is more protection from the elements offered at the Wickham Interchange with the colorbond shed and cafeteria/ waiting room than exists at platform one under the awning at Newcastle today, note that the colorbond at Wickham will cover two tracks plus two platforms.
Additional north-south routes and other roads will also be opened as a result of truncation so a taxi driver getting to Hunter Street will no doubt use Dangar Street, Hannel St and Bellvue Street
tezza

So, the provision of a colourbond roof is a selling point???!!!!.  What cost to put up a cover over the 3 tracks at NCLE?  Methinks a bit cheaper than the Wickham proposal.
  tezza Chief Commissioner

I doubt the heritage listing would allow a 3 track canopy at Newcastle Station following truncation of the line to Wickham, it is still undecided what the new use of Newcastle Station will be.

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