True that the rail lines came into Newcastle and Sydney in different ways, and the cities developed differently.
The issue is the lack of adaption, as you mentioned, the shopping centres in Sydney always went up next to rail lines and stations, and not being the case in Newcatle.
I imagine this is because historically, everyone in Newcastle traveled to the CBD due to it's smaller size and I imagine it was a central location before the sprawl happened, yet in Sydney, I imagine suburbs like Liverpool started out as separate locations and sprawled out into the one large city we see today, and the result is making suburbs like Liverpool mini-CBD's, each with their own services including the railway stations, hospitals, educational facilities, and shopping centres in a walkable CBD like environment.
In the case of Newcastle, there was only one CBD, and the local stations in the residential areas represent local patronage at a time when the Newcastle CBD was still a place to be, and where the stations are spread out further apart is where the terrain is the most hostile, my best guess back in the old days, not many bothered with these areas due to inconvenience.
Long story short, the only real open space for the new suburban shopping centres was between stations as there was no real other commercial areas at the time and the existing stations were serving residential areas with the purpose of taking people to the CBD. Can we blame the shopping centres themselves for not going near stations? I don't know. But it is clear that the government has never once adapted the local stations and services in Newcastle with the rest of the city, and the result has always been very low patronage on services.
It's certainly a good discussion on whether or not you can justify building a station just to serve a suburban shopping centre, but it has been done in Sydney before so why not Newcastle? In 1974, Mount Druitt station was relocated 0.5km to the east to serve the shopping centre and this was partly funded by the developer of the shopping centre, and in 1985, Macarthur station opened to serve the shopping centre, and it gets over 3,000 passengers a day, it does also serves Campbellltown TAFE and UWS Campbelltown.
Also, just because when you build the station at the shopping centre, doesn't meant it will always be just for the shopping centre, developers have expressed interest in transit orientated development in Kotara for example.
A station serving the retail centres at Kotara and Glendale and a high service frequency would see the area become more dense and development and likely give birth to more jobs and services around the new stations, likewise for a relocated Cardiff, and obviously the existing stations would need proper pedestrian access to really make the local services work.
Remember, Sydney did not get dense so we decided to put the rail lines and stations in, we put the rail lines and stations in and Sydney become dense around these stations.
The Glendale station would have some obstacles to clear but certainly can be justified on the grounds of serving a commercial area, future development, and halving a long gap between stations, likewise Kotara and a relocated Cardiff. Over on the Hunter Line, new stations could be justified at Clyde St (for the TAFE) and Maud St.
It's not a "I don't like buses and therefore I want a train" mentality, it's because trains are more attractive to commuters so would likely entice people to use PT more, and current local services simply do not work, the bus service could then also be improved to compliment the train service, Newcastle sprawls too much for the bus services to work as the only mode of PT.
And having to get off a train in a residential area to catch a bus to the commercial area will just lead to PT failure for both modes and send people to their cars very quickly, as it already has.
Enjoy the S-Set farewell tour tomorrow by the way.
You've certainly led an interesting life.
Regarding moving Cardiff station, the most ideal thing to do would be to straigen out the entire alignment which would put the station in the heart of the commercial area and speed up travel time, the existing alignment could then be used as a passing loop for freight and regional trains. Second best option is closer to the commercial area on the existing alignment, developers identified the current location as being weak for development, a relocated station would probably see units go up and the area become more dense and walkable.
The existing station gets good patronage, but it's primarily park and ride patronage with very limited parking, it's not uncommon to see people simply waiting with their cars on in the traffic area of the car park waiting to pick people up from trains. The 29 bus is nice for connecting with Sydney-bound express trains for that matter, but when the best thing about Newcastle
Transport is that it gets you out of Newcastle faster, I think something is being done wrong.
Closer to Tickhole, a station at Garden Suburb to interchange to the A37 road and frequent buses to Charlestown and John Hunter would be very beneficial for local PT, and an island platform could fit right between the tracks when they split apart to go through the tunnel. Plenty of room for commuter parking too.
A station at Glendale would primarily be a local destination/bus interchange station, so it would not really need commuter parking, it might be possible to fit some limited angled or 90 degree parking spaces offn the stub road though.
Most people drive due to convenience, and I imagine this is amplified due to the inconvenience of the unusable PT with it's infrequent service, poor connection times, bypassing of local destinations, and general inaccessibility. And this is not sustainable for the following reasons:
-financial strain on people, talked about this enough already so I don't need to into to much detail, but basically, a car is a pre-requisite for a job in Newcastle, not because people absolutely can't get to work on PT, someone with a good work ethic will make use of the limited services, but it's become of employer discrimination favoring applicants with cars, the problems comes with the question of how are you meant to buy a car and pay the exorbitant insurance premiums before being able to get a job?
-bad for small businesses, when someone drives from their garage, to their work car park, to the suburban shopping centre, and back to the garage with zero walking (every PT trip begins and ends with a walk), what room is there for small businesses? they can't afford the rents in the suburban shopping centre.
-lack of consideration for pedestrians in planning and development, since almost everyone drives, there is little consideration given about PT users and pedestrians with the location of housing and other facilities, and it's not uncommon to see large multi-lane roundabouts which are hazards for pedestrians
-congestion, the proper Newcastle metropolitan area has abound 400K population, there are already some places places where congestion already occurs, imagine what it would be like when the population rises, and it will rise since not everyone can afford to live in Sydney, but they do need city facilities, and Newcastle being NSW's second largest city, and far enough away from Sydney to offer cheaper housing, can provide this.
-constant PT decline, it seems every few years, some form of PT in Newcastle is being cut, this time, it was buses in eastern Lake Macquarie were cut to a 2 hourly frequency to support the premium on-demand service.
If PT is attractive and convenient, then people will use it, rail is the most attractive form of PT to people, but it's the weakest form of PT in Newcastle, and the buses are on the decline also.
The store site is become the bus interchange for the Wickham interchange by the way.