You are a funny guy. "What investment" - did you see the SIX tower cranes in the CBD. Newcastle would celebrate if there was one crane. I would say SIX is unheard of. There is over a billion dollars worth of projects coming out of the ground and about to start.What investment. The CBD is dead and the last time I was in Newcastle (a few weeks ago). There were shops shutting down left right and centre and there was not one new development started. In fact the only thing new that I saw was the amount of shuttered buildings with for sale or lease signs on them. The only thing being constructed in Newcastle is the Wickham interchange. Other then that everything else is being dismantled.So how do you explain the massive explosion in investment since the rail truncation was announced?For all of my life I have been a frequent visitor to Newcastle and a routine traveller through the area. From my earliest memories, regular visits to relatives in Newcastle are constant joys. The 4.40pm UP Newcastle Flyer was a much loved old friend.In a nutshell: "How To Kill A CBD"
With 6 months of the new transport arrangements it was time for a visit to see how the objectives promoting the line closure were progressing towards fulfilment. The changes can only be described as profound. Had somebody predicted them 12 months ago they would not have been believed. The proponents of the line closure and their supporters must be beside themselves with delight.
The most striking change east of Stewart Ave is the absence of people. The area around Hunter/Watt/Scott Sts is like a ghost town – totally deserted. The bus terminus is a lonely and empty place with a few buses standing over and no people. The route 110 shuttle buses barely have enough passengers to justify their operation. The normal services along Tudor St and Maitland Rd can easily handle the demand. There is no justification for a tramway.
Prior to the line closure it was predicted that the downturn in train passengers would be about 25%. Anecdotally, it appears to be about 66%. The only people now travelling into downtown are those who must; employees and those needing to keep appointments. Just about all travel by choice has ceased. The visitors are now going elsewhere.
We were told that an objective of the line closure was to rejuvenate the retail trade. The closure has certainly brought fundamental change to retail. Without the passing pedestrian traffic, many surviving retailers are fast going broke. There is no longer enough business to remain financially solvent. The visitors who have gone will not be coming back.
A second objective of the line closure was to open up the town to the riverbank. The new crossings of the railway “right of way” are tradesmen’s masterpieces. The sun reflects brightly off of the green grass and black bitumen of the crossings. Nobody is using them. They are deserted. Recently another 7 story building was approved for construction on the riverbank in the Honeysuckle precinct. Undoubtedly this will enhance the attraction of the riverbank from Hunter St. The enhancements will be complete when all of the space between Hannell St and Honeysuckle which is north of the railway line is filled with 5 or 7 story buildings. A wonderful achievement of the claimed objective.
It is almost awe inspiring to observe the management of train movements at Hamilton. You do not need to be a railway minded person to understand that convenient interchange is of major importance to passengers. The connection at Hamilton between Sydney and Maitland trains has never been good, let alone perfect. I had the spectacle of a Maitland train departing and being held at the first junction signal to allow the train from Sydney to cross in front of it. Passengers from Sydney being denied a convenient connection to Maitland. The inconvenience made worse by the Maitland train continuing to be held to allow an UP freight to cross in front of it at Islington Jct. This was a wonderful display of how to arrange matters for the comfort and convenience of passengers.
Then there is the spectacle of carsets sitting in the Railway St reversing lines preventing arriving trains from moving forward from the platform which of course blocks further arriving trains from entering the station. The confected issue of running empty trains continues. Trains arriving at the end of their journey need to be cleaned and serviced. The necessary facilities are not at Newcastle nor at Hamilton so they must return to Broadmeadow. The serviced carsets must then return empty. This practice continues as a necessity. The Beaumont St gates close against road traffic on average every 6 minutes. When road traffic is stopped by the traffic lights at Tudor St or Maitland Rd., it banks up and vehicles stop on the railway tracks. Newcastle road users are such wonderfully safe drivers. The whole spectacle at Hamilton is like something from Alice in Wonderland.
The proponents of the line closure and their supporters should be delighted with the progress being achieved since the line closed.
By any measure; Newcastle has ceased to be a city. Retail is in its final death throes; as office leases expire it remains to be seen if they will be renewed; visitors have stopped coming; there has never been a lot of recreational/sports/arts facilities in the downtown area and the viability of any proposals looks doubtful.
The reason buses are having it so easy is because traffic has dropped significantly and nothing at all to do with the train line closing. Fixing up the CBD could have easily been fixed by sinking the rail line. This would have opened up the cbd to the foreshore and retained passenger train services into Newcastle while also removing the level crossings. If the tram was to get built the level crossings would have to be re activated which is why the tram will never happen as it will get in the way of the government selling the land to developers.
It must be nice however to look through rose tinted classes Northern Flyer.
Care to name which shops are closing? I bet not because there has not be so many shops open in Newcastle since the late 1970's. How is a closing a heavy railway that carried only 500 passengers in the peak period the cause of traffic decreasing?
It sounds like you have visited the wrong city. I live in Newcastle and what you have just said is 100% BS.