Newcastle Rail Line: Announcements

 
  NotebookMan Assistant Commissioner

Location: Wahroonga NSW
Is it really worth keeping a rail line running at a loss of over 100 million per year just so an average passenger loading of 12 per train can have a 4 minute trip?
tezza

The solution to the economic problem of a rail line that loses 100 million per year would be to cancel all the loss-making services that use it (yes, that means Maitland/Telarah and Morisset as well as Scone and Dungog) and then remove the line because after those cuts it serves little purpose (Central Coast and Sydney services being handled with minimal alterations at Broadmeadow, treating the Hamilton loop tracks as turnback sidings and using a better bus interchange than previously proposed). No government has had the stomach for such a solution, despite the urging of NSW Treasury. Relocating the terminus away from the present CBD simply adds to the capital cost and depresses the farebox revenue because long haul passengers resent break of journey. That is not a solution to the economic problem, which is tolerated because the rail line provides a service to the public, and the voters would lash out if the services that use it were withdrawn. It is completely artificial to look at the Hamilton to Newcastle section or any part of it as an optional accessory to the area served by the trains that run on that section and use the Newcastle terminus.

Of course the demise of all Newcastle suburban services might be a long term goal for those advocating truncation, but not willing to stick their necks out too far just yet.

The fictitious light rail would simply make the economic problem even worse because it would inflate the capital cost even further and would have a hopeless struggle to return adequate farebox revenue (even by the highly tolerant standards of public transport in Australia) over a 3km section in a city that has been compared to Beiruit on a bad Friday night.

One remembers the jaw-dropping statement of Bob Hawes that choosing a terminus/interchange location was just a matter of operational detail. Well it might be for HDC, which doesn't have any responsibility for the capital cost of the rail truncation proposal, or the effects on farebox revenue. Whatever happened to the days of government agencies that respected such things?

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  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
How is removing the rail making it harder to get to? First, bugger all people use the train to get to the East End, secondly, changing to light rail is hardly a huge impost, particularly if it gets you closer to your destination.
Northern Flyer

Go down there on a weekend or when a foreshore event is on and see how many people are getting off the train, do you expect the pubic to ride buses on New Years eve?
Yes changing modes of transport is a pain in the clacker especially after a long journey with luggage.
Yes genuine work commuters will have a delay.
Yes two years of buses is a massive joke while the work is being done.
If you reckon no one uses the train then why bother with a tram if no one goes there anyway?
Total waste of money then, just close the line and forget that part of town then eh?
  Transtopic Deputy Commissioner

Location: Sydney
I was quite impressed Transtopic reading through your post above until i read right to the very end and you mentioned the undermined railway, this indicates to me that you havent done your research into the history of mining activities or studied any of the mapping available held by the Department of Mineral Resources in the area occupied by the railway corridor. It became apparent that you are relying on hearsay and innuendo to make that remark.
tezza

I didn't make any reference to the "undermined railway" as you put it.  In fact my remarks referred to railway land which is "NOT" undermined.

Putting that aside, I can't see anyone making a credible business case for the cost of constructing the light rail line with supposedly so little patronage transferring from the heavy rail line, unless of course they're thinking of terminating all suburban bus services at Wickham as well.  Even then, I doubt if it would stand up to scrutiny.  It's about as useless as the CBD to Rozelle Metro debacle in Sydney which resulted in $500m going down the drain.  If the rail closure goes ahead, then I suspect that the light rail will never be built and the bus shuttle service will remain in place permanently.
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

Go down there on a weekend or when a foreshore event is on and see how many people are getting off the train, do you expect the pubic to ride buses on New Years eve?
Yes changing modes of transport is a pain in the clacker especially after a long journey with luggage.
Yes genuine work commuters will have a delay.
Yes two years of buses is a massive joke while the work is being done.
If you reckon no one uses the train then why bother with a tram if no one goes there anyway?
Total waste of money then, just close the line and forget that part of town then eh?
Junction box

I live right near Newcastle Station, and the numbers are tiny and decreasing. So where are these people with luggage going? If they are struggling with a cross platform change, I assume they are being picked up at Newcastle Station - so they will get picked up at Wickham Station. Decisions about the city should be based on much more than a heavy railway line carrying a handful of people. It's not about nostalgia from those who happen to like trains.
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

As an outsider and someone who has taken a keen interest in the Newcastle rail truncation debate, it seems to me it would be a backward step to remove a valuable piece of transport infrastructure into the Newcastle CBD. The lessons of history haven't been learnt. In the early 20th Century, there was major public agitation to extend the Sydney Suburban rail system into the CBD proper from the then Terminus at Central. Until the city underground railway was extended into the CBD, thanks to the vision of Dr Bradfield, passengers had to change to trams to complete their journeys (sound familiar?). Another example is Auckland, where the rail link into the CBD was abandoned and it has now been reinstated at great expense. The same thing is likely to happen to Newcastle in the future if this mindless decision perseveres.

I would like to know what has been the historical patronage of the inner Newcastle rail line before the CBD went into decline. Similarly, I would like to know if any feasibility studies have been done to estimate the likely public transport patronage arising from revitalisation of the CBD. This should be a crucial factor in determining the future of the rail service. Basing decision making on the current level of patronage is inept if not deceptive. It's putting the cart before the horse. You also have to ask the question, why would you spend millions of dollars in ripping up the existing heavy rail tracks and building a new light rail link for what is supposedly a minimal number of passengers (12 per train?) transferring from the existing rail service? Where are the additional passengers going to come from to justify the expense of the light rail link? Certainly not Wickham. If the government is suggesting that the light rail link will encourage more passengers transferring from the rail service, then it's clearly at odds with its own assessment that public transport patronage will decline by a quarter. If there is an anticipated increase in patronage, then why wouldn't you leave the rail line in place, at no additional cost? You can't have it both ways.

I've worked in the property industry all my life, and I can tell you that the push by certain development interests to close the rail line because it thwarts their redevelopment plans is a myth. If they were honest, it wouldn't make one iota of difference. Look at the alternative, having a wall of buildings between their sites and the waterfront (good call that one!). The key to revitalising the Newcastle CBD is in having the appropriate planning controls to create incentive for redevelopment. It's got nothing to do with the rail line. Any reasonable person would think that having a direct uninterrupted rail link with Sydney, Maitland and the Upper Hunter would be a clear advantage.

It all boils down to the fact that there is a blatant agenda by some developers, including some government agencies, to get their grubby hands on the only land not undermined in the CBD. Nothing more, nothing less!
Transtopic

You said it at the start of your post "as an outsider". The rest is pure speculation to justify your position. If you think removing a fence between the CBD and the harbour won't make any difference, why not run one a block back from Sydney Harbour or down George Street. To say that it wouldn't be a positive is pure nonsense and a sign of denial. Sadly, those who are defending the railway seem to be unable to accept that there are pros as well as cons. To continue saying that it is all one sided and then concocting conspiracy theories to plug the gaps just makes them look even sillier. That is why the general public see them as sad train tragics.
  Transtopic Deputy Commissioner

Location: Sydney
You said it at the start of your post "as an outsider". The rest is pure speculation to justify your position. If you think removing a fence between the CBD and the harbour won't make any difference, why not run one a block back from Sydney Harbour or down George Street. To say that it wouldn't be a positive is pure nonsense and a sign of denial. Sadly, those who are defending the railway seem to be unable to accept that there are pros as well as cons. To continue saying that it is all one sided and then concocting conspiracy theories to plug the gaps just makes them look even sillier. It si why the general public see them as sad train tragics.
Northern Flyer

I may be an outsider, but I know more about Newcastle than you give me credit for.  I'm not just talking about a "sad train tragics" opinion, but the nitty gritty of real world economics.  You have conveniently neglected to respond to the salient points in my argument that a credible business case supporting the closure of the rail line and building a light rail link, hasn't and is unlikely to be established. Where are the additional passengers going to come from to justify the expense?  Any such positive conclusion should be treated with great suspicion.  You also haven't responded to my query about future public transport patronage arising from revitalisation of the Newcastle CBD. No, you wouldn't would you, because it doesn't support your case?

In an ideal world, of course it would be great to have unimpeded access to the waterfront from the Newcastle CBD.  But there are other factors coming into play, such as transport access into the CBD, which can't be easily dismissed.  Taking Sydney again as an example, it would be great to open up the waterfront at Circular Quay by tearing down the Cahill Expressway and railway station, but it serves a useful purpose because it's already in place and the cost of replacing it would be prohibitive.  It's just not going to happen.  It doesn't seem to have had any impact on future redevelopment plans in the immediate vicinity.  I suggest that all these claims about the rail corridor inhibiting redevelopment in the Newcastle CBD are dishonest and a complete furphy.  It's all about planning controls.
  Showtime Chief Train Controller

Well I did something  on sunday I haven't done in ages and that was get a train right into Newcastle.
I decided to take the grandkids in the see the steam locos and calculated the easiest way was to get a train from Cardiff and return.

This all went well (except that the train from Sydney was running 15 minures late and we missed seeing the steam shuttle arriving at Newcastle after I had precisely worked out the exact timing) and I was pleasantly surprised to see our train was well patronised. I thinkit was 8 cars long and double deck and there were only a couple of empty seats in our carriage.
I was expecting the passengers to all be gunzels but this was not the case.
At Newcastle they all dispersed and didn't hang around the platform like we did (foaming).

The return journey was the same. The Sydney train was again 20 minutes late arriving and did a turnaround in barely a few minutes as it was trying to get back on schedule for the return run to Sydney. There were a lot of people waiting on platform 3 for this train and quite a few had baggage.

My observation didn't take into account how many people were arriving from the Maitland line as I couldn't see these trains from the foreshore where we were having lunch, which was well populated and not starving for access due to the rail being there.

If this is an example of normal weekend running, then I would have to say more people were going into Newcastle than were going to Sydney Airpport the last time I went there by train.

Quoting 12 people per train is absolute bulldust as the trains were quite full.
  gw0071 Deputy Commissioner

You saw 12 pax - repeat 12 pax only, per train. Just in case this is not clear, only twelve passengers utilise any rail movement between Hamilton and Newcastle regardless of direction, regardless of day. Highly qualified statisticians with specialised monitoring equipment have concluded these results over a lengthy period. Twelve passengers per train
  PKBeam Locomotive Driver

Location: Somewhere in NSW
Can I take a peek at the source?
  tezza Chief Commissioner

Average passenger loadings per train over the 220 services per day you goose, not just the few services that may be patronised due to a rare steam weekend event.
No doubt if Lachlan Valley Railway relocate to Broadmeadow Depot which was mentioned in todays Newcastle Herald Broadmeadow Station will experience increased patronage. Passenger figures for the Newcastle Branchline are easily found on the web and the quote of an average of 12 per train is grossly overestimated as you know many train run empty.
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

I may be an outsider, but I know more about Newcastle than you give me credit for. I'm not just talking about a "sad train tragics" opinion, but the nitty gritty of real world economics. You have conveniently neglected to respond to the salient points in my argument that a credible business case supporting the closure of the rail line and building a light rail link, hasn't and is unlikely to be established. Where are the additional passengers going to come from to justify the expense? Any such positive conclusion should be treated with great suspicion. You also haven't responded to my query about future public transport patronage arising from revitalisation of the Newcastle CBD. No, you wouldn't would you, because it doesn't support your case?

In an ideal world, of course it would be great to have unimpeded access to the waterfront from the Newcastle CBD. But there are other factors coming into play, such as transport access into the CBD, which can't be easily dismissed. Taking Sydney again as an example, it would be great to open up the waterfront at Circular Quay by tearing down the Cahill Expressway and railway station, but it serves a useful purpose because it's already in place and the cost of replacing it would be prohibitive. It's just not going to happen. It doesn't seem to have had any impact on future redevelopment plans in the immediate vicinity. I suggest that all these claims about the rail corridor inhibiting redevelopment in the Newcastle CBD are dishonest and a complete furphy. It's all about planning controls.
Transtopic

I don't plan to go blow for blow unless maybe I have finished tidying my sock drawer. The business case, like most business cases, will be cabinet in confidence. No doubt, it will be based on the urban renewal uplift from the removal of the barrier rather than just transport considerations. As for transport considerations, you are talking about a very minor mode in all trips to the CBD. As for future growth, the CBD, or at least the CBD that would benefit from rail is moving west and that is why Wickham is growing and Newcastle is declining. Wickham already beats Newcastle in the am peak. Hamilton beats all of them. The growth in the CBD around Civic and Newcastle is constrained and is never going to generate the trips that would justify more than a bus. The simple fact is that few people who want to travel to Civic or Newcastle has access to a railway station. The 2009 HDC Report justified removal of heavy rail when the cost was more than twice was is being quoted now. Some simple maths shows that it would easily exceed a BCR of 2 under current plans.

If you remove the barrier, suddenly businesses that are currently a 1km walk from the waterfront will be 100m from the waterfront. Walkways and roads that are currently sad dead ends will become direct connections to the waterfront. If you don't think that will increase the value of the properties in Hunter Street, you are in denial. The question is about if the increase in amenity, etc will justify the downside of removing the railway. As I said, those who pretend that there are no benefits will be put in the basket with all the other train nuts in Newcastle.
  Transtopic Deputy Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Just to make it official, here are some daily entry and exit statistics based on actual barrier counts for the Newcastle branch from the Compendium of Sydney Rail Travel Statistics 2012 prepared by the Bureau of Transport Statistics:-

Station               Entry              Exit            Ranking (out of 308)

Broadmeadow     1,110              1,110                   152

Hamilton             1,490              1,490                   134

Wickham               510                 510                   186

Civic                     900                 900                   165

Newcastle            1,340              1,340                  141

That's a total of 8,480 entries and exits per day from Hamilton to Newcastle, or 4,480 per day for just Civic and Newcastle, hardly a small number.

Don't ask me why, but all entry and exit figures are the same for every station on the network.

Using the same logic to close Civic and Newcastle, the last three stations on the Richmond line beyond Windsor -  Clarendon, East Richmond and Richmond, have a total daily entry and exit figure of 2,960, far less than Newcastle and Civic, but no one is suggesting that the Richmond Line should terminate at Windsor (it would avoid duplicating the bridge in the future across the flood plain).

In the overall scheme of things, the Newcastle Branch stations are in the middle ranking of all stations on the Sydney Trains/NSW Trains Intercity network.
  gw0071 Deputy Commissioner

Berlin removed a barrier. Maybe Civic Gates could be Newcastle's Brandenburg...

Only x12 visitors at any one time mind. Question is though, if there's nobody about does it really exist?
  tezza Chief Commissioner

No Brandenburg gates for Civic Station as it is being completely demolished, the other good news is that truncation occurs in six weeks

http://www.timeanddate.com/countdown/to?msg=Truncation&p0=569&swk=1&year=2014&month=12&day=26&hour=0&min=1&sec=0
  Showtime Chief Train Controller

Average passenger loadings per train over the 220 services per day you goose, not just the few services that may be patronised due to a rare steam weekend event.
No doubt if Lachlan Valley Railway relocate to Broadmeadow Depot which was mentioned in todays Newcastle Herald Broadmeadow Station will experience increased patronage. Passenger figures for the Newcastle Branchline are easily found on the web and the quote of an average of 12 per train is grossly overestimated as you know many train run empty.
tezza

I already stated that I initially thought the full train was due to the Steam event too but when everyone got off at Newcastle they all dispersed and did not stay on the platforms at all to view the steam trains.
My entourage was the exception as that was what we were there for.
Whilst there we also walked down to Harrys and had pies and hotdogs for lunch.
If we wanted to go further down the foreshore then it wasn't a problem as we were already on the water side. If we wanted to return directly to Hunter street then there was an overhead walkway right next to Harrys.
Didn't feel like we were trapped in Stalag 13 at any time and all the cafes were full so somehow the apparently feeble minded people of Newcastle were able to actually find their way onto the other side of the tracks. A miracle occurred.
  tezza Chief Commissioner

Congratulations on your success, you do realise that what is referred to now asthe Foreshore area is longer than 200m and stretches some 4km from Nobby's to Maryville. The harbour will only be 250m from the new Wickham Interchange so there will be so much more to see than Harry's Cafe de Wheels, overhead walkways and other fast food outlets
  Showtime Chief Train Controller

There won't be any more to see than what is there now.
If I want to go to Maryville I will drive there and I will cross the rail line at Hannel Street.
After the rail line is vandalised and I want to go to Maryville, guess what? I will still have to drive there through Hannel Street.
Nothing will change except we will not have a complete transport system.
  tezza Chief Commissioner

Try walking the 1 km along Hannel Street to Maryville or use the transport solution already provided, a Newcastle Bus service.
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

Just to make it official, here are some daily entry and exit statistics based on actual barrier counts for the Newcastle branch from the Compendium of Sydney Rail Travel Statistics 2012 prepared by the Bureau of Transport Statistics:-

Station Entry Exit Ranking (out of 308)

Broadmeadow 1,110 1,110 152

Hamilton 1,490 1,490 134

Wickham 510 510 186

Civic 900 900 165

Newcastle 1,340 1,340 141

That's a total of 8,480 entries and exits per day from Hamilton to Newcastle, or 4,480 per day for just Civic and Newcastle, hardly a small number.

Don't ask me why, but all entry and exit figures are the same for every station on the network.

Using the same logic to close Civic and Newcastle, the last three stations on the Richmond line beyond Windsor - Clarendon, East Richmond and Richmond, have a total daily entry and exit figure of 2,960, far less than Newcastle and Civic, but no one is suggesting that the Richmond Line should terminate at Windsor (it would avoid duplicating the bridge in the future across the flood plain).

In the overall scheme of things, the Newcastle Branch stations are in the middle ranking of all stations on the Sydney Trains/NSW Trains Intercity network.
Transtopic

No, in 2012, Civic was 850 and Newcastle was down to 1070, a total less than 2000 passengers. That is all that is effected. Every year it reduces. The other comparisons are irrelevant as the change is not just down to passenger numbers, but the other benefits of removing the barrier in the city.
  PKBeam Locomotive Driver

Location: Somewhere in NSW
just to clarify, according to 2013 stats from http://www.bts.nsw.gov.au/Statistics/Rail/default.aspx?FolderID=223
last 3 Richmond Line stations total 1360. (910 Richmond, 390 East Richmond, 60 Clarendon)
Newcastle and Civic total 2000. (850 Civic, 1150 Newcastle).
that is all...
  Showtime Chief Train Controller

No, in 2012, Civic was 850 and Newcastle was down to 1070, a total less than 2000 passengers. That is all that is effected. Every year it reduces. The other comparisons are irrelevant as the change is not just down to passenger numbers, but the other benefits of removing the barrier in the city.
Northern Flyer

Barrier to what?

Apart from Motels and fast food, WTF is there that is so important that all of Newcastle has to get there?

The ace in the hole of Newcastle is it's beaches and they are on the eastern and southern sides.

There will be no miraculous recovery for Hunter Street with or without the rail - it's dead but it just isn't bright enough to roll over.

Wasting millions of dollars on removing an existing asset that is providing a service makes no sense in anyones world (unless you have a hidden agenda)

Maybe we should be asking Tezza and Northern Flyer if they have any pecuniary interests?
Are you plants installed on the forum by the sneaky state government?
Does seem strange for somone on a rail forum to be spruking for the removal of a rail line that has so much history and doesn't require any adduitional funding to keep operational, but will cost millions to remove.
Who are you spooks?
  LesS Train Controller

Location: Behind the Camera
According to the Bureau of Transport Statistics; (a NSW gov body); there is an average of 4960 daily arrivals and departures at Newcastle, Civic & Wickham combined. Over 96% of these passengers travel between 6.00am and 8.00pm. Outside of these hours the numbers of passengers is minimal.

During this 14 hour period the public timetables record that there are a total of 128 trains arriving and departing. This is an average of 38 passengers per train. Over the same period there is an average of 343 passengers per hour moving through the stations.
It must be noted that these are averages and take no account of travel peaks when the counts are much higher.

As a routine and regular visitor to Newcastle over a lifetime I have never seen a train arrive or depart Newcastle with as few as 12 passengers. It is always much more.

Anyone who disagrees with these figures needs to argue with the Bureau of Transport Statistics and NSW Trains becasuse they are their figures.

It has always been claimed that the object of the line closure is to enable the revitalisation and development of the Newcastle CBD. It seems to me that these words have a different meaning for those expounding them  from the meaning understood by listeners.
  Transtopic Deputy Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Maybe we should be asking Tezza and Northern Flyer if they have any pecuniary interests?
Are you plants installed on the forum by the sneaky state government?
Does seem strange for somone on a rail forum to be spruking for the removal of a rail line that has so much history and doesn't require any adduitional funding to keep operational, but will cost millions to remove.
Who are you spooks?

Well I have to admit that the same thought crossed my mind.  They have both studiously avoided responding to my argument that the level of patronage transferring from heavy to light rail at Wickham couldn't possibly justify the expense of closing the rail line and replacing it with a new light rail link.  All of the blame for the ills and decline of the Newcastle CBD is attributed to the rail line and used as an excuse by vested interests to close it.  It's got nothing to do with the rail line.  There are other factors in play.  The Newcastle CBD has been in decline for a number of decades now, primarily because of competition from the regional shopping centres in the suburbs and a dereliction of duty on the part of successive State Governments and City Councils to effect change.  What is needed is the implementation of a new planning regime, which is now underway, to create incentive for redevelopment, with or without the railway.

But, there could be a potential complication for the Government to overcome.  

Over the last few days it has been suggested that the budget for the Sydney Light Rail project has blown out by $600m, from the original estimate of $1.6b, and Gladys Berejiklian's Cabinet colleagues are said to be restless about it.  A consultant has been appointed to prepare a business case for the Newcastle Light Rail project, and regardless of whether it is publically released or not, Cabinet will no doubt require a far more rigorous assessment compared with the apparent lax attitude taken in preparing the business case for the Sydney project. They won't want to get their fingers burnt twice.  

If the business case fails to endorse the project, which I expect, then Cabinet is unlikely to approve it.  What to do then, when the line has already been closed (or at least services suspended)?  

The Transport Administration Act 1988, Section 99A with regard to closure and disposal of railway lines, states that:-

(1)  A rail infrastructure owner must not, unless authorised by an Act of Parliament, close a railway line.

(2)  For the purposes of this section, a railway line is closed if the land concerned is sold or otherwise disposed of or the railway    
     tracks and other works concerned are removed.

If the Government wants to find an alternative use for the rail corridor, even to turn it into a busway or open parkland, it will require legislation to be passed through both Houses of Parliament.  The Upper House may have the last laugh yet!
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

Barrier to what?

Apart from Motels and fast food, WTF is there that is so important that all of Newcastle has to get there?

The ace in the hole of Newcastle is it's beaches and they are on the eastern and southern sides.

There will be no miraculous recovery for Hunter Street with or without the rail - it's dead but it just isn't bright enough to roll over.

Wasting millions of dollars on removing an existing asset that is providing a service makes no sense in anyones world (unless you have a hidden agenda)

Maybe we should be asking Tezza and Northern Flyer if they have any pecuniary interests?
Are you plants installed on the forum by the sneaky state government?
Does seem strange for somone on a rail forum to be spruking for the removal of a rail line that has so much history and doesn't require any adduitional funding to keep operational, but will cost millions to remove.
Who are you spooks?
Showtime

You have caught me out. Mike Baird is paying me to blog on here. I also own all the land on both sides of the railway corridor. Don't flatter yourself, do you really think that the NSW Government gives a toss about what a couple of rail enthusiasts think. Believe it or not, you can have an interest in railways AND understand urban renewal and town planning at the same time. Unlike some, I do not see closing an underutilised railway line as the end of the world and can see the enormous benefit that having a well connected city will bring without the barrier in place.
  PKBeam Locomotive Driver

Location: Somewhere in NSW
Ok, let's get this thread back on track (pun intended).
http://www.newcastlestar.com.au/story/2670130/newcastle-rail-survey-highlights-concerns/?cs=1535

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