Newcastle Rail Line: Announcements

 
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

I'm sorry, comments on newspaper articles do not count as a reliable source.
donttellmywife
I did not say they were my source.

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  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
I did not say they were my source.
Newcastle Express
You went a bit further than that, and said the link was "proof".  A comment on a newspaper article is not proof.  I also still don't understand what the underlined extract from the article has to do with that proof.

The motivations of those advocating truncation of the line is also mostly irrelevant.  Evaluate the proposal on its merits.

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.
"tezza"


Justifying 320 million dollars of state government money on the basis that it improves the visual appearance of a small part of one local government area is absurdly ridiculous.  Lunacy.  If the Newcastle City Council really wants to beautify their city centre, then hit their rate payers up with a special rate payer variation, and get on with the job.

You could find so many more useful ways to spend that money, and ways that would have some use for the entire state as well as the entire local region (and not just some wealthy landowners and a few residents in one "suburb").  Finish off the Glendale transport interchange.  Put it towards the Fassifern to Hexham bypass.  Put it towards capacity and curve easing works between Newcastle and Sydney.  Sort out the V-set replacement.  Complete the Newcastle bypass.  Connect the end of the F3 through to Raymond Terrace.  Start the Singleton or Muswellbrook bypasses.  Sort out the Scone level crossing.  Fix the Industrial drive through to Sandgate road traffic issues.  Build the new Maitland hospital.  Etc.

In a couple of years time, the next time someone from the Newcastle political scene complains that the train from Newcastle to Sydney is too slow... the answer then should simply be "but now you have a tram".
  tezza Chief Commissioner

Here you go donttellmywife, tell someone who cares...

http://www.timowenmp.com.au/site/contact-tim
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

I have to agree with donttellmywife. You can't answer every argument with a claim that people want to build high rise buildings on the corridor. Aside from the minor matter that there isn't that much land that could be used for anything wider than a garden shed, there is the political reality of the situation. After telling everyone that they need to remove the railway to allow good level access between Hunter Street and the harbour, they are hardly going to turn around and ram legislation through parliament to sell the land to allow one or two people to build on it and block the access. At the same time, the hundreds of people who own land in Hunter Street and the old CBD see their property values fall when their easy water access is blocked. They want to be re-elected in 2015 and 2019. Selling the corridor would be political suicide. The reality is that the old CBD will be a better place if it is all within one or two blocks from the water. To be honest, if you don't accept this reality, then you are fooling yourself.

The big question is, is it worth the cost of removing the heavy railway and replacing it with light rail. Where does the balance sheet end up on the pros and cons. It is 2km of railway that has declining patronage. Does it really matter if the trip takes a few minutes longer in the bigger picture? These are the things that need to be weighed up. Ranting on about greedy developers, as Save Our Rail have been known to do, does not help the cause or their credibility.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1999584/letters-suspicion-in-rail-land-deals/?cs=315

He wants it for "more open space" & car parks Oh BULL Crap he wants for "that". Remember Honesuckle anyone? THAT was meant to be open/park land.
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1999584/letters-suspicion-in-rail-land-deals/?cs=315

He wants it for "more open space" & car parks Oh BULL Crap he wants for "that". Remember Honesuckle anyone? THAT was meant to be open/park land.
Newcastle Express
I rest my case.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

Northern Flyer, despite what McCloy states, he does not want the rail land for open space, he wants it for Development, as does GPT.This subject is about a land grab
  Calgully Deputy Commissioner

Location:
The reality is that the old CBD will be a better place if it is all within one or two blocks from the water. To be honest, if you don't accept this reality, then you are fooling yourself.

The big question is, is it worth the cost of removing the heavy railway and replacing it with light rail. Where does the balance sheet end up on the pros and cons. It is 2km of railway that has declining patronage. Does it really matter if the trip takes a few minutes longer in the bigger picture? These are the things that need to be weighed up. Ranting on about greedy developers, as Save Our Rail have been known to do, does not help the cause or their credibility.
Northern Flyer


Well whatever happens, the CBD aint going to be any closer to the water.  It's going to remain exactly the same distance from it.

I really don't know whether the motivation is development or not.  I agree that harping on that one theme regardless of evidence is not constructive.  It is an emotional issue though so I can forgive those who feel so strongly about this issue for feeling desperate - particularly since the omens are dark at this stage.

My theory is that the proponents honestly and genuinely believe that the city would be a better place without the railway line because they don't believe there is any social or economic value.   But they don't have the guts to say it that bluntly because they have just enough nous to know that it would be controversial to say so even though they don't understand why.  

Those of us old enough to have lived through the 1970s will recall having seen this attitude at is zenith then.  Anyone younger than 40 has lived all their adult life in an era of growing awareness and appreciation amongst the community of the utility of public transport - and rail in particular, and might actually find it hard to believe that there was a time when community attitudes to transport were fare worse than now.

Government attitudes to public transport and rail lag behind community attitudes.  Some more than others.  What I am seeing here is a 1970s era government approach.  Thankfully it is a rare and dying breed.  It is a sad comment on Newcastle though.

The tragedy though is that if community and government attitudes in Newcastle are say 10-20 years behind real cities then what are the leaders of 20 years time going to think about today's elected officials if this plan does go ahead?  (That's a rhetorical question in case anyone didn't pick it).
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

Northern Flyer, despite what McCloy states, he does not want the rail land for open space, he wants it for Development, as does GPT.This subject is about a land grab
Newcastle Express

Herein lies the problem with the argument

1. What is your proof that McCloy wants the land - which part of the corridor, what will he do with it, how is he going to get the Act through Parliament, etc

2. How will GPT "grab the land" They own land south of Hunter Street, the railway is north of Scott Street - there is two entire city blocks owned by numerous people and two roads in between the land owned by GPT and the railway corridor.
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

Well whatever happens, the CBD aint going to be any closer to the water. It's going to remain exactly the same distance from it.

I really don't know whether the motivation is development or not. I agree that harping on that one theme regardless of evidence is not constructive. It is an emotional issue though so I can forgive those who feel so strongly about this issue for feeling desperate - particularly since the omens are dark at this stage.

My theory is that the proponents honestly and genuinely believe that the city would be a better place without the railway line because they don't believe there is any social or economic value. But they don't have the guts to say it that bluntly because they have just enough nous to know that it would be controversial to say so even though they don't understand why.

Those of us old enough to have lived through the 1970s will recall having seen this attitude at is zenith then. Anyone younger than 40 has lived all their adult life in an era of growing awareness and appreciation amongst the community of the utility of public transport - and rail in particular, and might actually find it hard to believe that there was a time when community attitudes to transport were fare worse than now.

Government attitudes to public transport and rail lag behind community attitudes. Some more than others. What I am seeing here is a 1970s era government approach. Thankfully it is a rare and dying breed. It is a sad comment on Newcastle though.

The tragedy though is that if community and government attitudes in Newcastle are say 10-20 years behind real cities then what are the leaders of 20 years time going to think about today's elected officials if this plan does go ahead? (That's a rhetorical question in case anyone didn't pick it).
Calgully

I think you will find that part of the problem is that the railway is not doing much now and never will in it's current configuration. It has a very small catchment and this will be the case based on future land usage within the CBD. If the railway was rebuilt as light rail along existing corridors with stations closer to where people live, you may have something useful, but the location of current stations is not doing it for patronage.Calgully has not read this yet
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

** PUT 1ST LINK BACK SHORTLY ** &
Should be back in about 30 minutes or so. If not, please just wait, & I'll update the approx. wait time.



(For some reason, the bottom link isn't adding the URL link)
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

Northern Flyer
** PUT 1ST LINK BACK SHORTLY ** &
Should be back in about 30 minutes or so. If not, please just wait, & I'll update the approx. wait time.



(For some reason, the bottom link isn't adding the URL link)
Newcastle Express

The link is to a bunch of photos that you took showing what happens when buses replace trains. Looking at some of them, it would indicate that they are when buses replace trains when all 160km of the line is shut down. It is hardly relevant when the heavy railway will stop at the other end of Hunter Street and be replaced by light rail for the last 2km. The first thing that will happen is that passengers will have a choice of maybe 6 places to get off instead of just two and hence be better off as a result.

The other photos show some busy trains on what could be special days like Australia Day. The trouble is that the figures collected by BTS don't support any claim that the station is well used. It is lucky to crack 1000 passengers per day which will fit on trams many times over.

The photos of cars on Wharf Road are puzzling. It's like that most days if you pick the right moment. I would hardly use congestion at that point as an argument. One of the key reasons for traffic congestion in Newcastle is that there are only three north-south road connections, two with level crossings and a few extra foot bridges. One of the key arguments for removing the railway is that it will open up 12 new north-south crossings which will make life easier for cars and people. Once again, you need to argue the actual scheme on offer, not something that has no relevance.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

Note that these were taken on various days.


http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list="PLHyNc8vaYfcDTTxv-spRwyLwLh3IIWn83
(Hope this works this time)
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
The reality is that the old CBD will be a better place if it is all within one or two blocks from the water. To be honest, if you don't accept this reality, then you are fooling yourself.

The big question is, is it worth the cost of removing the heavy railway and replacing it with light rail. Where does the balance sheet end up on the pros and cons. It is 2km of railway that has declining patronage. Does it really matter if the trip takes a few minutes longer in the bigger picture? These are the things that need to be weighed up.
Northern Flyer

As Calgully notes, the old CBD area (Newcastle and perhaps Newcastle West suburbs proper) are not going to be physically closer.  And let us not pretend that accessibility has actually got anything at all to do with the current state of the CBD - that purely reflects the downturn in high street retail (due to competition with the shopping mall) and loss or regional branch offices (due to back-office automation and agglomeration) that has affected regional (and most state capital) CBD's all over the country.  Removing the rail line isn't going to remove Charlestown Square.

What almost certainly will move is the location of the "CBD".  If you look at the Transport for NSW factsheet, that's pretty clearly what they use to justify the current project - Wickham will be the new CBD for the lower Hunter.  

It's a shame this decision wasn't made earlier.  The state has just spent/committed to a considerable amount of money for redevelopment of the Newcastle court house and relocation of the legal precinct.  If the former CBD is no longer to be the CBD, then perhaps that redevelopment was in the wrong location.  Similarly there's a proposal to relocate some parts of the University of Newcastle into the old CBD.  Perhaps that needs to be rethought.

Which then brings us back to the light rail proposal.  The cost is a bit up in the air (I think $120 million allocated in one budget, and then there's talk of (extra?) $340 million from port sale proceeds) at the moment, but it doesn't look cheap, even after you take out the remediation cost.  If all you are talking about is perhaps a thousand people per day (remember - it isn't going to be "the CBD" any more) over a couple of kilometres of route length... under what sort of fanciful assumptions does that result in justification of all the infrastructure and cost associated with an isolated light rail system??  That sort of patronage over that sort of route length as an isolated system ... that's well and truly boring street bus territory.  

You already have the bus fleet - maybe you need a couple of tins of terracotta paint to demarcate some dedicated lanes, and you are done.  The locals might not be impressed, but objectively that is the realistic alternative to the current rail system.

I do hope the landholders in the current CBD realise that you can't have your cake and eat it too... if you don't want your area to play the role of the regional CBD, then you shouldn't expect regional CBD related state government investment.

Alternatively, if there's a couple of hundred million of random expenditure on the table to improve the Newcastle city centre appearance, then can Lake Macquarie get a slice too?  After all, more people live in that part of the region, than in the Newcastle LGA.  How about Maitland, Port Stephens, Cessnock, Singleton, Dungog...  collectively there's more people again (and growing, spectacularly) - some of those councils would undoubtedly like even just a couple of million to make their main street look a bit nicer - perhaps just "landscaped with turf and fountains, and equipped with paths for people and bikes".  After all, the port is a state asset - so spread the love a bit.
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

As Calgully notes, the old CBD area (Newcastle and perhaps Newcastle West suburbs proper) are not going to be physically closer. And let us not pretend that accessibility has actually got anything at all to do with the current state of the CBD - that purely reflects the downturn in high street retail (due to competition with the shopping mall) and loss or regional branch offices (due to back-office automation and agglomeration) that has affected regional (and most state capital) CBD's all over the country. Removing the rail line isn't going to remove Charlestown Square.

What almost certainly will move is the location of the "CBD". If you look at the Transport for NSW factsheet, that's pretty clearly what they use to justify the current project - Wickham will be the new CBD for the lower Hunter.

It's a shame this decision wasn't made earlier. The state has just spent/committed to a considerable amount of money for redevelopment of the Newcastle court house and relocation of the legal precinct. If the former CBD is no longer to be the CBD, then perhaps that redevelopment was in the wrong location. Similarly there's a proposal to relocate some parts of the University of Newcastle into the old CBD. Perhaps that needs to be rethought.

Which then brings us back to the light rail proposal. The cost is a bit up in the air (I think $120 million allocated in one budget, and then there's talk of (extra?) $340 million from port sale proceeds) at the moment, but it doesn't look cheap, even after you take out the remediation cost. If all you are talking about is perhaps a thousand people per day (remember - it isn't going to be "the CBD" any more) over a couple of kilometres of route length... under what sort of fanciful assumptions does that result in justification of all the infrastructure and cost associated with an isolated light rail system?? That sort of patronage over that sort of route length as an isolated system ... that's well and truly boring street bus territory.

You already have the bus fleet - maybe you need a couple of tins of terracotta paint to demarcate some dedicated lanes, and you are done. The locals might not be impressed, but objectively that is the realistic alternative to the current rail system.

I do hope the landholders in the current CBD realise that you can't have your cake and eat it too... if you don't want your area to play the role of the regional CBD, then you shouldn't expect regional CBD related state government investment.

Alternatively, if there's a couple of hundred million of random expenditure on the table to improve the Newcastle city centre appearance, then can Lake Macquarie get a slice too? After all, more people live in that part of the region, than in the Newcastle LGA. How about Maitland, Port Stephens, Cessnock, Singleton, Dungog... collectively there's more people again (and growing, spectacularly) - some of those councils would undoubtedly like even just a couple of million to make their main street look a bit nicer - perhaps just "landscaped with turf and fountains, and equipped with paths for people and bikes". After all, the port is a state asset - so spread the love a bit.
donttellmywife

You are correct in saying that the decline of retail in Newcastle was not caused by the railway line. Aside from the suburban shopping centres you can throw in a heap of other causes like the earthquake, removal of the hospital and other government departments. Having said that, it is not about finding the cause and undoing it. You need to look at the city as it is now and work out what is the best way to take it forward. Newcastle is not unique and there are plenty of post-industrial cities that have a similar problem and have had to reinvent themselves. 2km of retail will never come back and we don't want it to. People forget that the place was empty after 5pm. What we want is a city that takes advantages of the assets it now has and what will make it different from Westfield. Obviously the beach, the harbour, the heritage, the lifestyle comes to mind. The lessons from other cities is that you want mixed use, so that you have 24/7 activity, hence retail, commercial, residential, entertainment all mixed in together. The other lesson from other cities is that the place must be walkable with good connections to move about within the city. The downside with Newcastle is that it is long and skinny which works against this. Throw in the railway line cutting it in two and it is even worse.

What you can't do is to do nothing and hope it sorts itself out. It has not to date and is not going to in the future. Commercial around Wickham makes sense as the consolidated land holdings exist and the height limitations are not there. It is already happening with more people working north of the railway and moving west. The old cramped smelly heritage buildings that pass as offices around the courthouse have had their day.

So the question is does removing the railway offer value for money and can a better transport system be put in place? Despite ridiculous claims about the cost of light rail, the bulk of the money will be spent building the terminus at Wickham and everything that goes with it. The money from the port sale just means that it will be done properly. The next question is should light rail provide the last 2km link to the eastern part of the city which will be niche retail, residential, small scale commercial and civic. If it is just a shuttle for heavy rail passengers who would never been seen dead in a bus, the answer is no. Buy the best bus on the planet and it will do the job for much less money. If the light rail is run down Hunter Street and turns it back into a main street and gets people around the CBD and therefore attracts investment into the CBD, then you have a better chance of justifying the extra cost over and above the main cost, which is the Wickham Interchange. The restrictions in the eastern part of Newcastle, be it height, mine subsidence, heritage and just the size of the area dictate it is very unlikely that sometime in the future people are going to want a high capacity, high speed heavy railway taking people the extra 2km to the eastern end of the CBD.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
...

What you can't do is to do nothing and hope it sorts itself out. It has not to date and is not going to in the future. Commercial around Wickham makes sense as the consolidated land holdings exist and the height limitations are not there. It is already happening with more people working north of the railway and moving west. The old cramped smelly heritage buildings that pass as offices around the courthouse have had their day.

So the question is does removing the railway offer value for money and can a better transport system be put in place? Despite ridiculous claims about the cost of light rail, the bulk of the money will be spent building the terminus at Wickham and everything that goes with it. The money from the port sale just means that it will be done properly. The next question is should light rail provide the last 2km link to the eastern part of the city which will be niche retail, residential, small scale commercial and civic. If it is just a shuttle for heavy rail passengers who would never been seen dead in a bus, the answer is no. Buy the best bus on the planet and it will do the job for much less money. If the light rail is run down Hunter Street and turns it back into a main street and gets people around the CBD and therefore attracts investment into the CBD, then you have a better chance of justifying the extra cost over and above the main cost, which is the Wickham Interchange. The restrictions in the eastern part of Newcastle, be it height, mine subsidence, heritage and just the size of the area dictate it is very unlikely that sometime in the future people are going to want a high capacity, high speed heavy railway taking people the extra 2km to the eastern end of the CBD.
Northern Flyer

The proposals need to be evaluated in their entirety.  You can't simply ignore the cost of building the interchange station - because if the line is not truncated that cost doesn't occur.  Similarly the cost of remediation (or the additional cost of remediation if a predominantly street running alignment is chosen).  

Again, we need more detail to understand exactly how the costs fall, but the likely indication is that the total cost is substantial.  Any value for money argument is going to be hard pressed to win.  You are not buying additional capacity (the existing systems have oodles), I've not seen any mention of operating cost savings (though perhaps they are there - particularly if the bus network gets appropriately adjusted) and, given the preference and real time cost associated with interchange, it's difficult to think that you have a much better service.

The cost is also likely to be substantial relative to any additional private spend that might ... or might not ... happen subsequently (particularly when you look at the total costs associated with some of the other state government initiatives to try and rejuvenate the former CBD).  How much state government money is it reasonable to spend in order to encourage some very local area investment?  Are they going to whack some extra land tax or similar on the area in an attempt to try and recover that investment?  Are landholders in the area prepared to stump up in any way ... or are they just along for a free ride?  What's council putting on the table?  I don't really expect them to be taking on a significant public transport role, but "landscaped with turf and fountains, and equipped with paths for people and bikes" sounds very much like the sort of stuff that councils do all the time... so there's plenty of scope for them to encourage things along!

$100, $200, $300, $400 million - whatever it is... it is not small change.  Is this the best thing that you could spend "precious" state government money on?

(Contrast this Newcastle proposal with the Sydney CSELR proposal - where you have a capacity increase, a clear service improvement, an operating cost reduction benefit, other various environmental and economic benefits, plus $220 million of Sydney council money being tipped in!)

There's a sit-on-the-fence aspect to the rejuvenation logic... once you have decided to make Wickham the new CBD (which is a fair enough decision - it practically already is), it is then silly to dilute that by continuing to encourage CBD-like businesses (office space) to set up in the former CBD.  That just "trying to have your cake and eat it it too".  In the absence of overwhelming demand it will not go well.  For an example - see what happened to ... Newcastle! ... when a competing commercial office district became available as part of the Honeysuckle redevelopment.  

Non-CBD stuff - like medium/high density residential, which I think would be perfect for the area - great... pick whichever block of derelict buildings you want in the former CBD, knock it down and get building.  GPT retail-like proposals - as long as they don't try and compete land-use wise with the new CBD - they are fine too (but big retail is always going to struggle with geography if it needs to rely on a bigger catchment area).

You mention "if the light rail is run down Hunter Street and turns it back into a main street and gets people around the CBD and therefore attracts investment into the CBD"... be clear that the part of Hunter Street you are referring to will not be part of the "CBD".  Can you continue to redevelop Wickham as a CBD (I think that will work - it practically has already) and fix up Hunter Street as something else at the same time?

(In the absence of local population growth, encouraging a cafe strip or retail outlet is just moving activity from one place to another.  I'd be pretty annoyed if I was a landowner along Darby Street (particularly) in the face of an active attempt by the state government to make a nearby strip more competitive.)

Much of what I touch on above comes down to local town planning.  I think that's the most significant part of the problem with the former CBD - things have moved on, but perhaps council, landholder and resident attitudes haven't.  If you wanted to do something about the former Newcastle CBD - that's where things should start.

(A detail - but I don't see the relevance of any existing height restrictions - given this has to be an much more fundamental town planning exercise in order to make sense.  Council waves their fingers and that restriction evaporates.  If not, those restrictions are actually part of the problem - an artificial obstacle to redevelopment of the area.

This same reasoning flaw is in the arguments against the Hamilton option for the interchange in the TfNSW factsheet - height restrictions are a minute detail in amongst the large scale town planning changes that are associated with this sort of proposal.  Not that I think Hamilton makes sense, for a variety of other reasons.)
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

The proposals need to be evaluated in their entirety. You can't simply ignore the cost of building the interchange station - because if the line is not truncated that cost doesn't occur. Similarly the cost of remediation (or the additional cost of remediation if a predominantly street running alignment is chosen).

Again, we need more detail to understand exactly how the costs fall, but the likely indication is that the total cost is substantial. Any value for money argument is going to be hard pressed to win. You are not buying additional capacity (the existing systems have oodles), I've not seen any mention of operating cost savings (though perhaps they are there - particularly if the bus network gets appropriately adjusted) and, given the preference and real time cost associated with interchange, it's difficult to think that you have a much better service.

The cost is also likely to be substantial relative to any additional private spend that might ... or might not ... happen subsequently (particularly when you look at the total costs associated with some of the other state government initiatives to try and rejuvenate the former CBD). How much state government money is it reasonable to spend in order to encourage some very local area investment? Are they going to whack some extra land tax or similar on the area in an attempt to try and recover that investment? Are landholders in the area prepared to stump up in any way ... or are they just along for a free ride? What's council putting on the table? I don't really expect them to be taking on a significant public transport role, but "landscaped with turf and fountains, and equipped with paths for people and bikes" sounds very much like the sort of stuff that councils do all the time... so there's plenty of scope for them to encourage things along!

$100, $200, $300, $400 million - whatever it is... it is not small change. Is this the best thing that you could spend "precious" state government money on?

(Contrast this Newcastle proposal with the Sydney CSELR proposal - where you have a capacity increase, a clear service improvement, an operating cost reduction benefit, other various environmental and economic benefits, plus $220 million of Sydney council money being tipped in!)

There's a sit-on-the-fence aspect to the rejuvenation logic... once you have decided to make Wickham the new CBD (which is a fair enough decision - it practically already is), it is then silly to dilute that by continuing to encourage CBD-like businesses (office space) to set up in the former CBD. That just "trying to have your cake and eat it it too". In the absence of overwhelming demand it will not go well. For an example - see what happened to ... Newcastle! ... when a competing commercial office district became available as part of the Honeysuckle redevelopment.

Non-CBD stuff - like medium/high density residential, which I think would be perfect for the area - great... pick whichever block of derelict buildings you want in the former CBD, knock it down and get building. GPT retail-like proposals - as long as they don't try and compete land-use wise with the new CBD - they are fine too (but big retail is always going to struggle with geography if it needs to rely on a bigger catchment area).

You mention "if the light rail is run down Hunter Street and turns it back into a main street and gets people around the CBD and therefore attracts investment into the CBD"... be clear that the part of Hunter Street you are referring to will not be part of the "CBD". Can you continue to redevelop Wickham as a CBD (I think that will work - it practically has already) and fix up Hunter Street as something else at the same time?

(In the absence of local population growth, encouraging a cafe strip or retail outlet is just moving activity from one place to another. I'd be pretty annoyed if I was a landowner along Darby Street (particularly) in the face of an active attempt by the state government to make a nearby strip more competitive.)

Much of what I touch on above comes down to local town planning. I think that's the most significant part of the problem with the former CBD - things have moved on, but perhaps council, landholder and resident attitudes haven't. If you wanted to do something about the former Newcastle CBD - that's where things should start.

(A detail - but I don't see the relevance of any existing height restrictions - given this has to be an much more fundamental town planning exercise in order to make sense. Council waves their fingers and that restriction evaporates. If not, those restrictions are actually part of the problem - an artificial obstacle to redevelopment of the area.

This same reasoning flaw is in the arguments against the Hamilton option for the interchange in the TfNSW factsheet - height restrictions are a minute detail in amongst the large scale town planning changes that are associated with this sort of proposal. Not that I think Hamilton makes sense, for a variety of other reasons.)
donttellmywife

Plenty of good ideas and I won't attempt to comment on all of them. "CBD" is one of those terms that probably doesn't apply cleanly, particularly in Newcastle or any modern rejuvenated mixed use city. What I am referring to as the "CBD" is the commercial area (existing and future) around Wickham (with some areas closer to Civic). I wouldn't call Civic or the Eastend a CBD in that sense, but it can still have a "main street", hence my point about that light rail would reinforce the role of Hunter Street as the main street. If you add another 12,000 residents to the CBD, it would help to increase PT use within the CBD.

I don't think you can dismiss height restrictions as they are fundamental to town planning. You might want to fiddle around the edges, but fundamentally, Hamilton is low rise, medium density (at best) and there is no good reason to change that with so much consolidated and underutilised land at Wickham. I think allowing high buildings east of around Auckland Street would be a mistake, distract from the character of that part of town and be unnecessary anyway. I agree that there will be no large shopping mall in the city - it will be niche retail and that is reflected in GPT/Urban Growth NSW's proposal.

It is probably academic anyway, as the decision has been made, but I can see a new terminus (with bus connections) as being seperate from the LRT proposal. The first is primarily a urban renewal / town planning decision which could be done in isolation. The LRT is icing on the cake that needs to be designed wisely to make the most of the opportunity, noting that it is something that would never had happened had it not been a local dividend for the lease of the port.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

I'm sorry if this is off-topic, but what he is aiming at is not off topic.

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2026189/panic-as-commuter-train-derails/?cs=305

Northern Flyer,

You comment on that article and state "thank goodness Sydney Trains were able to call on the ever reliable buses to get people home."

So don't you believe that was an incentive comment to make, especially when people almost got injured?
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

I'm sorry if this is off-topic, but what he is aiming at is not off topic.

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2026189/panic-as-commuter-train-derails/?cs=305

Northern Flyer,

You comment on that article and state "thank goodness Sydney Trains were able to call on the ever reliable buses to get people home."

So don't you believe that was an incentive comment to make, especially when people almost got injured?
Newcastle Express

You have totally lost me on that one. What are you talking about?
  grw Station Staff

> (A detail - but I don't see the relevance of any existing height restrictions - given this has to be an much more fundamental town
> planning exercise in order to make sense. Council waves their fingers and that restriction evaporates. If not, those restrictions are
> actually part of the problem - an artificial obstacle to redevelopment of the area.


These height restrictions are a key part of the redevelopment problem. Because of the extensive undermining all substantial buildings on the flat areas around the harbour need to have the mine workings filled in with grout. This is quite expensive and it means that buildings less than 10 or so storeys don't have enough floor space to them economic. This was a major issue with the Honeysuckle redevelopment and it means that you need to get unusually high returns (e.g. waterfront views) for buildings less than 10 storeys. In the old Mall area there is a height restriction (I think its 10 storeys) so that nothing can be higher than Christchurch Cathedral. Not sure how far west this restriction goes. This has been an issue with apartment development in the east (the Tattersalls development went on ice for a while because these economics didn't stack up).

McCloy did point out this problem late last year and is one reason why Wickham is preferred for any future high rise because there are less (from the way my colleagues talk there are actually none but I don't know for certain) height restrictions.

PS. I am a senior Civil Engineer in Newcastle so see part of this debate from the inside.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

McCloy did point out this problem late last year and is one reason why Wickham is preferred for any future high rise because there are less (from the way my colleagues talk there are actually none but I don't know for certain) height restrictions.
grw

It's no secret that McCloy & his greedy property developer mates are after the rail land, as a land grab.

See http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1639979/mccloys-vision-reach-for-the-sky

The developers in Auckland saw the advantage of having a train line, after Auckland HAD to put back their CBD railway. Auckland has proven what happens when you remove a CBD railway.
  tezza Chief Commissioner

It's no secret why the heavy rail needs to go judging by yesterdays dismal performance,there were 40 000+ people spread along the city foreshore area from Wickham to Nobby's enjoying the Australia Day festivities.
A great majority choosing to arrive by bus, car or on foot while the near empty trains continued to operate on the dismal Sunday timetable.
  Northern Flyer Train Controller

It's no secret that McCloy & his greedy property developer mates are after the rail land, as a land grab.

See http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1639979/mccloys-vision-reach-for-the-sky

The developers in Auckland saw the advantage of having a train line, after Auckland HAD to put back their CBD railway. Auckland has proven what happens when you remove a CBD railway.
Newcastle Express

You make 2 points and both are without logic or proof.

1. If you are convinced that it is all about the land, then where is it? Where is there anything worth building on and why is it worth 50 times the value of land in the rest of Newcastle.

2. Transport is not a one size fits all. For the handful of examples of where railways have been returned, there are hundreds, if not thousands examples of where it has not and nor would the residents ever want it back.

You do the case for heavy rail retention no favours by running these sort of arguments.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

Tezza, that is rubbish. It's the similar, or same sort of post, when you tried to claim that the trains were empty to the Fat As Butter, even though my videos & photos prove otherwise, and that the trains are well used.

Tezza, it was Saturday train timetable, and trains were well used.
  tezza Chief Commissioner

Not rubbish at all, Saturday or Sunday timetable the performance was still dismal. Would you explain why all streets and carparks were packed to capacity with parked cars, the buses were full with the foreshore and surrounding street filled with walkers. The trains were hardly used at all because they dont offer a frequent service to cellebrations or festivals . It is definately time for the heavy rail to go.

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