Newcastle Rail Line: Announcements

  tezza Chief Commissioner

Dear Tezza,

When I think of what is, was or will be in Novocastria - when I drive (by lack of choice) down the still desolate streets of a once thriving metropolis long since devoid of a steel ribbon harbour-side divide now decimated by empty pre-cast concrete experimental housing shells, I will cast my thoughts to you. When I recall how a journey to 'town' by rail was a significant occasion I will reflect upon your apparent legacy to champion gentrification of a township which by Darwin's standards was devoid of gentleman

Well done my friend, may you find solace in your quest for global Ikea-ism (hang on, there's an idea...)

Keep banging the drum


gw0071, it is obvious that your antidepressants have ceased to function, throw them away.
Catch a train to the New Wickham terminus when completed, once there get off your LAZY BUM and WALK
the 2km into town along the foreshore to admire the pre-cast experimental housing shells.
Despite what wxtre has written previously, you don't need to be an elite Australian athlete
to complete a 2km journey or enjoy what the city has to offer. There is even a new concrete
combined walking/cycleway under construction right now from Wickham to Honeysuckle, just for you.

Sponsored advertisement

  wxtre Chief Train Controller
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

Today we would have seen around 600 passengers get off at Newcastle Station, and coming back I would estimate around 400 - 500 passengers got on at Newcastle Station. It had the most passengers of any station between Newcastle & Broadmeadow.

And for those that believe that those in support of the rail line are anti-development, we are not. We are anti-inappropriate development.

Their is a way to keep both sides (except a number of developers) happy, that isn't in Australia yet.
Newcastle Express

600 passengers off how many trains and what length of time
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

LETTER: Rail debacle threatens cup

which was a letter from a Save Our Rail committee member who has nothing to do with the Asian Cup, The response from a member of the organising committee

Rick - the premise of your letter is completely incorrect.
I happen to sit on the AFC Asian Cup Trade and Investment Group, convened by the Local Organizing Committee and the Host City team for Newcastle. The volunteer group includes representatives from industry and government, and is working on making sure the local communities capture as much economic benefit - a tangible legacy - from this event as possible.
There has been some fantastic work done over more than a year. The Australian Organizing Committee is pretty much working 24/7 now, to make sure every event and every detail is sorted.
Not once have I heard one person mention any concern over the Newcastle rail terminus being moved. Not once - and these people are detail freaks.
At last month's Property Council lunch at City Hall in Newcastle, we had the Local Organizing Committee CEO Michael Brown, and others closely involved with the AFC Asian Cup talking about the massive benefits this global event will deliver for our region. Again - nobody is losing one minute's sleep over the terminus move.
I don't think there is any need to try to detract from the overwhelming positivity and goodwill that surrounds the AFC Asian Cup, and what it will do for Newcastle and the region.
It seems clear that nobody really believes that the work on the rail line will "...cost this town more in lost revenue and no one will want to promote anything here ever again".
Newcastle will be shown to be the jewel of the Asia Pacific.The benefits will be massive.
I hope you are going to the games. All the best.
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

Well that poster would have to say that as he has a vested interest in the perception of the AFC Asian Cup. What he says in this post and the reality could be very different. He is actually paid to say that.

Are you saying that he is lying when he says that the organisers never mentioned the rail truncation as an issue?
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

No but his opinion means very little when he is paid to promote this event.

He offers his opinion and talks up the event as you would expect. His statement that nobody mentioned the truncation is not a statement of opinion, but a statement of fact that totally discredits the claim of Mr Banyard.
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

He offers his opinion and talks up the event as you would expect. His statement that nobody mentioned the truncation is not a statement of opinion, but a statement of fact that totally discredits the claim of Mr Banyard.
Northern Flyer

Aside from that, the claim that truncation will effect the Asian Cup is rubbish. The nearest railway station, Broadmeadow, is 1.5km from the stadium. If you are coming from the south, it would make sense to use it and it is unaffected by truncation. If you are going to Newcastle from the stadium, they have buses ready at the front gate to take you into the city, as always happens at large events. You are not going to walk 1.5km to Broadmeadow Station in the dark to wait for a train when there is a bus at the front door to take you straight to the city.
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

Today we would have seen around 600 passengers get off at Newcastle Station, and coming back I would estimate around 400 - 500 passengers got on at Newcastle Station. It had the most passengers of any station between Newcastle & Broadmeadow.

And for those that believe that those in support of the rail line are anti-development, we are not. We are anti-inappropriate development.

Their is a way to keep both sides (except a number of developers) happy, that isn't in Australia yet.
Newcastle Express

I see in another forum you claim that 600 people came off a single train. I had a look at the BTS 2013 counts. They have only 290 coming off all 16 trains in 3.5 hours over the morning peak. Can you understand that people would have difficultly believing that twice the morning peak (all 3.5 hours) would get off a single train on a weekend. Try again.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

NO Northern Flyer, YOU try again, as I know what I saw. That is correct, off just one train.
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

NO Northern Flyer, YOU try again, as I know what I saw. That is correct, off just one train.
Newcastle Express

Well sorry, but I don't believe you. I also think that only a die hard Save Our Rail supporter would believe that ONE train on a weekend would carry more than twice the number of passengers for the entire 3.5 hours on a weekday morning peak. Put it another way, trains arriving in that morning peak are carrying an average of 18 passengers, yet by some miracle on a weekend they arrive with 600 passengers.
  Northern Flyer Train Controller


What could Fred find that ICAC could not? This will just make Baird more determined to stop the trains on Boxing Day.
  tezza Chief Commissioner

There are always 600 passengers alighting at Newcastle station in any video footage that Newcastle Express presents as evidence of heavy patronage, even if only 20 passengers appear in the viewfinder.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

That is WHAT I saw.
  wxtre Chief Train Controller
  Magic Man Station Master

What could Fred find that ICAC could not? This will just make Baird more determined to stop the trains on Boxing Day.
Northern Flyer

Fred Nile - ‘‘I know the state government was very unhappy there was going to be an inquiry - I had a lot of pressure put on me to not support it - but I said I think there’s so much concern in the community about it, I couldn’t oppose it.’’

LOL, how far will they go before the NSW Govt drops the light rail plan like a ton of bricks?

If it was a Green or ALP chairing the committee, the coalition could just ignore it as leftie and agitator rubbish.
Fred on the committee is something they cannot ignore.

Also beware of public servants appearing on subpoena and disgruntled public servants and photocopiers.
  Fred Scuttle Junior Train Controller

Location: Point Clare, NSW
LOL, how far will they go before the NSW Govt drops the light rail plan like a ton of bricks?
"Magic Man"

To the proverbial 11th hour, I would suspect. Given the pressure that has been put on Fred Nile not to support the inquiry, the only reasonable conclusion that one can reach is that there are further revelations in store, which in turn explains why Nile has requested that the line closure be "put on hold" until the inquiry is done - if the closure goes ahead, the government can just say that with the line gone ( and being built on) the need for the inquiry has passed.

It won't be over until it's over . . . . . . . .
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

LOL, how far will they go before the NSW Govt drops the light rail plan like a ton of bricks?
Magic Man

Fred Nile being interviewed by Jill Emerson

Note what Fred Nile says from the 8 minutes mark, but especially his reply at the 8:20 to the 8:36 mark. The inquiry, is not only about the rail line, it's about questionable development plans.(1)

For example changes in the SEPP 2012 plans after the public was consulted.

1. Just because people support keeping the rail line DOES NOT mean they are anti-development.
  Calgully Deputy Commissioner

Just because people support keeping the rail line DOES NOT mean they are anti-development.
Newcastle Express

Exactly right Newcy.  The railway and development are in fact very good bedfellows in most cities - property values are augmented by availability of train services.

That the proponents of truncation in Newcastle have successfully portrayed rail supporters as against development is disappointing. But it is also a flank of the battle that has yet to be fought and there is still hope if we can correct this community and Government perception.
  tezza Chief Commissioner

Newcastle Herald.....

AFTER more than a decade of debate, Robert Monteath argues the decision to remove the Newcastle rail line was not rushed.
WHAT’S the rush’’ was the headline on the front page of the Herald on Friday expressing Reverend Fred Nile’s concern about the imminent removal of the most talked about rail line in Australia.

The decision to remove the rail was not rushed. It has been debated in Newcastle for more than a decade and it was one of the many recommendations in the 2009 Newcastle City Centre Renewal Report. This was produced by the Hunter Development Corporation in conjunction with the then minister for the Hunter Jodi McKay.
For most of the 20th century the rail line was the border of Newcastle’s CBD. Now that Honeysuckle has been developed the rail line is a unwanted physical barrier in the CBD.
The Newcastle City Centre Renewal Report was prepared after a comprehensive public consultation process. The people of Newcastle want to see the CBD opened up to the harbour. This is not a matter of removing a piece of public transport infrastructure that very few people use for the sake of it, but a matter of making the CBD more liveable and accessible to all and providing an alternative form of public transport.
In 2010 a public rally advocating the removal of the rail line filled Newcastle’s town hall.
As a comparison, imagine how different Sydney’s Circular Quay would be if its railway station was on the ground. In the 1950s Sydney’s city planners had the foresight to insist that Circular Quay’s station was above ground so not to form an access barrier to the Rocks and the then soon to be built Opera House. Speaking of the Opera House, how does a Novocastrian family visit that landmark using public transport? They catch a train to Sydney’s Central Station which is at the edge of the CBD where the train terminates. They then have to find another mode of transport to get to Circular Quay. They can catch an underground train (because that’s what a CBD has when it also has buildings containing 60storeys) or a bus down George Street.
A successful modern CBD does not have a heavy rail running down its streets. At present Sydney council is proposing to put light rail along George Street, not heavy rail.
What a novel idea; maybe Newcastle should do the same?
Reverend Nile, nothing happens with a rush in Newcastle. The removal of the rail line and the other matters in terms of reference for your inquiry relating to Newcastle are all recommendations  in the Newcastle City Centre Renewal Report,  which is now five years old.
Can you expedite your inquiry and then allow the non-rushed renewal of Newcastle to continue?

*Robert Monteath is a Newcastle surveyor and town planner.*
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
The Newcastle line needn't be a barrier, all that is needed is appropriate grade separation. There is a railway to Circular Quay that has grade separation, we aren't calling for that line to be closed.
  wxtre Chief Train Controller
  PKBeam Locomotive Driver

Location: Somewhere in NSW
"Sorry minister, but it’s just not good enough"
October 9th
Full article in spoiler
Commuters could have days or weeks - not months - to adapt to a new public transport system that will replace trains when Newcastle rail line closes on December 26.
Buses will take rail commuters into Newcastle CBD from Broadmeadow when the line closes in 76 days, after the state government begins to remove the tracks between Wickham and the city.
Transport Minister and Minister for the Hunter Gladys Berejiklian said publicly yesterday that the government was treating the rail replacement service like any other timetable change.
She told a Newcastle radio station that, as a public transport user herself, she only needed to check a timetable the morning she used that mode of transport, and that people did not need 77 days warning for a new timetable.
The Mercury asked Ms Berejiklian yesterday for a guarantee that commuters would get more than a few days notice about new bus times and routes.
She responded: “Transport for NSW is finalising the contract for replacement bus services – this went through a tender process to ensure the best outcome for customers and value for money for NSW taxpayers.”
“Details will be released well in advance of Boxing Day.”
The government conducted a major overhaul of bus timetables across the state last year.
The new state-wide timetable was released 26 days before it came into effect.

Many commuters from the greater Hunter, who live outside Newcastle and rely on public transport, are concerned about how they will access services in the city after the rail line closes.
The government has repeatedly tried to allay fears by saying details about the bus service, that would temporarily replace trains, would be announced soon.
“I completely empathise with the issues raised by residents in Maitland and that’s why the NSW government is working hard to make sure a comprehensive bus plan is in place following the truncation of the rail line and while light rail is being constructed,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Specific details about the timetable will be provided soon, well in advance of Boxing Day.
“I can assure Maitland residents I will be doing everything possible to ensure smooth connections for customers during the transition period.”
  tezza Chief Commissioner

Yes, you really need a timetable for a 5 minute bus journey from Broadmeadow or Hamilton to Newcastle.
  PKBeam Locomotive Driver

Location: Somewhere in NSW
Not entirely relevant but there are a couple of chunks regarding the rail, specifically their opinions on it. I emphasised those.
"Whose castle now?"
October 11th
IN the wake of this year's sensational hearings in the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Newcastle people have been left wondering which of the two major parties is worse.
Labor had decades of almost uninterrupted control of the electorate, but at the state level it appeared to achieve relatively little for Newcastle until the controversial introduction of celebrity candidate Jodi McKay.
Then McKay, having taken the seat controversially from former Labor member Bryce Gaudry, was spectacularly knifed by the state ALP in astonishing circumstances.
Newcastle was on track to have a container terminal built in the city, a move that would have been a small but important step towards the goal of diversifying its economy away from excessive reliance on the boom-bust coal industry.
But when Labor puppet master Joe Tripodi and some other senior ALP figures sided with former billionaire Nathan Tinkler to sink the container terminal in favour of the tycoon's dream of his very own coal-loader, McKay was in the way.
Standing alongside Newcastle Port Corporation, she insisted the container terminal would be best for the city, and Anglo Ports was on the record saying it was keen to operate the business.
To eliminate McKay, Labor teamed up not only with Tinkler, but with a swath of Newcastle's business community, which took cash from Tinkler and spent it on campaigns to blacken McKay's name and turn the seat Liberal.
At the time, newly recruited Liberal candidate Tim Owen was struggling to find cash to take the fight to Labor, especially since a relatively recent law change had made it illegal for property developers and the alcohol and tobacco industries to make political donations in NSW.
The answer, ICAC evidence appeared to show, was to sidestep the law and secretly take money from the banned donors.

The commission heard reams of evidence about who knew what and when about the scheme to break the law and use cash from banned donors to fund the Liberal campaign.
And the Liberals have argued that it wasn't really wrong, since they never planned to provide any benefit to the donors in return for their financial help.
Whatever the truth might be, the mere revelation of the acceptance of envelopes full of cash was enough to vacate the seats of Newcastle and Charlestown.
So the question for voters becomes, which is worse? The party that was willing to knife its own member, sink the city's container terminal hopes and hand the seat of Newcastle to another candidate simply as a favour for a super-rich patron?
Or the party that chose to ignore the law against banned donors and accept secret contributions of cash in envelopes from high-profile developers?
Muddying the waters even more, the state's ports have all been privatised now, and the general sense is that the government maximised the lease-sale price for Sydney and Wollongong by promising Newcastle wouldn't be allowed to compete in the container trade.
The Newcastle lease-sale brought more money than expected, with a Chinese government-owned corporation taking a big share in the port. Its plans remain unknown.
Part of the sale proceeds are to be spent revitalising Newcastle, but the ICAC hearings have put all that under a cloud.
The Liberals aren't even running in the byelection, but they are expected to retain office after March, so the question of the city's relationship with the party in power remains an issue too.
Karen Howard
INDEPENDENT candidate Karen Howard insists she is not a Liberal in disguise. But she recognises that her critics accuse her of being one.
To feed their insistence, Ms Howard's critics point to her recent involvement in high-profile business groups, including board membership of the Hunter Development Corporation and the NSW Business Chamber.
No matter what they say, Ms Howard remains adamant.
"I'm not a part of party politics," she said. "Up until several weeks ago I felt powerless and aggrieved," she told me, referring to the shocking revelations in ICAC.
"I turned that around into a decision to run for the seat of Newcastle."
Ms Howard doesn't hide her strong interest in the business life of the city and her view that a strong economy is a vital part of the foundation of success.
"But I have a strong sense of equity and justice. Through my role with Medicare Local I'm devastated at the Liberals unpicking public health arrangements and I'm afraid these decisions will have broad-ranging implications for years to come."
In her public interviews, Ms Howard has stuck to one very conspicuous bottom line from which she doesn't budge: a belief that inquiries into the thinking and possible dealings behind recent planning decisions in Newcastle don't deserve support.
She makes it plain in our interview that she isn't in favour of any inquiries or reviews of the rail truncation decision, the decision to route light rail along Hunter Street instead of the heavy rail corridor or the spot rezoning of the Hunter Street Mall in favour of residential towers for GPT and its state government partner, UrbanGrowth.
Ms Howard agrees that the lack of transparency and information surrounding these decisions has created a vacuum, and that the ICAC revelations might have encouraged some people to draw lines and apply their own meanings.
"My concern in reviewing everything is that it puts things at risk," she said, adding that she would hold the Premier accountable, after the fact, for the propriety of the Newcastle planning decisions.
"There is a whole state out there with its hand out," she said, warning that delaying progress might mean other areas get the cash that was earmarked for Newcastle.
Asked about the GPT towers plan, Ms Howard said it was intended to revitalise Newcastle, and a sensitive mix of old and new would be very important.
On the light rail, she said she was frustrated at the lack of information about arrangements after the closure of the heavy rail on Boxing Day. She was "relaxed" about the Hunter Street light rail route proposal, but wanted more information.
The heavy rail corridor she strongly believed should remain open and green, but "activated".

Why does she want to be member for Newcastle? "We need an independent state MP looking over the shoulders of the decision-makers."
Tim Crakanthorp
LABOR'S Tim Crakanthorp is working flat out to persuade people that Labor has changed.
"Joe Tripodi is out of the party now. It's a new crop of people," he told me. But even so, his door-knocking campaign and street-corner glad-handing is telling him that people are still "cranky at the ALP".
Mr Crakanthorp's campaign got off to a shaky start when his party leader, John Robertson, initially declined to guarantee a Labor government, if elected, would spend any of the proceeds of the sale of the Newcastle port lease in the city.
It took some weeks of needling before the Opposition Leader changed his tune, but when he did he upped the ante, promising half the proceeds.
Mr Crakanthorp conceded he had been "in Robbo's ear" at every opportunity.
The Labor candidate's position differs sharply from Karen Howard's on the issue of reviewing the major civic planning decisions.
"Over the past couple of years many decisions have been made but many people feel disenfranchised," he said.
But after making that point, he says he wants to put an end to the traditional polarised politics that has paralysed Newcastle for decades.
"Look, I've worked with big business and I've worked with government bureaucracies," he said.
A member of Newcastle City Council for the past six years, Mr Crakanthorp has a business degree and has worked in mine safety regulation.
"I know how things work and I know we can only have progress if we all work together. On the council I've disagreed with [former lord mayor] Jeff McCloy on a number of matters but I was happy to work with him."
Mr Crakanthorp believes the days of the major parties taking Newcastle for granted have almost gone.
"Newcastle has changed. It's gone from a Labor seat on a 16 per cent margin, to a Labor seat on 1 per cent to Liberal on 1 per cent. The city isn't getting credit for that swing, yet."
How does he answer critics who praise the Coalition's progress in Newcastle?
The law courts was a Labor initiative, he said. The university city campus got $30 million from Labor plus land. Labor was ready to go ahead with the city's art gallery revitalisation, but conservative politicians threw the money back.
"Add it up yourself," he said.
Michael Osborne
GREENS candidate for Newcastle Michael Osborne feels the time has never been better for his party to make a really strong showing in Newcastle.
The byelection, he says, is about trust in decision-making, and both major parties have broken faith with the community.
"How were decisions made? Why were they made? Who will benefit from them? I want answers to these questions before things just push on," he said.
"Newcastle needs evidence-based decision-making, not just decisions made by and for vested interests."
Mr Osborne says he is particularly perplexed by the GPT towers proposal.
"We've always had a very sensible plan to promote high-rise in the west end. Now we say we are going to put towers in the east it turns all that on its head.
"There's more than a million square metres of developable land in the west of the city. If we do these towers in the east it means the west can't happen. It won't be viable. So, why can't we ask who made this decision, why they made it and who will benefit?"
The Greens are hoping their traditional supporters will come out in force, motivated not only by anger at the ICAC revelations but also by frustration over mining and gas issues.
Personally, Mr Osborne said he was very heartened by the level of recognition he was achieving in the community, following his years of civic involvement.
"People know my name and they know I stand up for what I believe in," he said.
Jacqueline Haines
JACQUELINE "Jak" Haines readily concedes that her winning is unlikely. "But you don't have to be elected to achieve something with your candidacy."
The aim, instead, was to get her agenda on the table with whoever did win.
So, what is Ms Haines' agenda?
The former Tasmanian, who moved to the Hunter in 1991, wants an end to the squabbling and infighting in the city and a new style of politics that puts the city and its people first, ahead of political parties or narrow business interests.
"I want Newcastle to have a diverse economy and I want a manufacturing industry on the agenda," she said.
That's not surprising, perhaps, coming from an industrial project manager with a strong interest in the economic underpinnings of social prosperity.
Ms Haines told me she was approached, once, by Labor to join the ALP after running in a mayoral contest. She declined, not because she lacked sympathy for Labor's social program, but because she didn't like what the party did to some of its people.
The Liberals? "I couldn't agree with half their stances on issues at present. Nor Labor for that matter," she said.
"One thing they did prove: they proved they could work together to destroy Newcastle's chance to have a container terminal. I'm not going to forget that."
In her travels campaigning she says the dominant feeling she gets is that people have turned off politics in a big way.
"There is a loud base that is either pro or anti cutting the rail. Beyond that it's very hard to open a discussion."
What about the recent planning decisions?
"I want to see the projects go ahead, but when you have people breach trust then you need to examine what's gone on. You do need to analyse the issues and it needn't take a tremendous amount of time."
Ms Haines calls herself a realist.
No member for Newcastle, no matter their political allegiance, would have a lot of power to alter decisions that had been made, she said.
"You will have the power to shape things and you will have opportunities for influence. But if you are realistic you will recognise what you can and can't do.
"I believe an independent member will be in the best position to get good results for Newcastle."
Milton Caine
MILTON Caine isn't boasting when he flatly takes credit for Newcastle's parliamentary inquiry into its recent controversial planning decisions.
"I'm the one who went to Fred Nile's office at Parliament. I took people who were upset and angry and we persuaded Fred that this inquiry was necessary," Mr Caine said.
He also acknowledges with the same matter-of-factness that he's been a near-permanent fixture on ballot papers in the Newcastle areas for decades, sometimes as a Liberal, sometimes as an independent and now as a member of Fred Nile's Christian Democrats.
"I came close once. That was the time that people actually listened to me".
And if voters listen to Milton Caine in 2014 what will they hear?
First, the rail line. Mr Caine believes the rail line should stay, but that trains should be slowed in the inner city area so that the tracks can be landscaped and made simple to cross at any point.
He believes a tram network should be added, linking the University of Newcastle's Callaghan campus and its proposed new city operation, sharing the same existing tracks as the heavy rail.

His passion for the transport issue is related to his work, driving a taxi for disabled people.
"Hurt the transport and you hurt the disabled, who are the most vulnerable and least
listened-to people in our community."
What about the GPT towers in the Mall?
"I'm not opposed to high-rise if it's what the people of the city say they want," he said. But personally, he likes the way the east end looks and doesn't want to see it ruined.

Sponsored advertisement

Display from:   

Quick Reply

We've disabled Quick Reply for this thread as it was last updated more than six months ago.