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The Hunter Independent Public Transport Inquiry says a freight bypass of Newcastle is urgently needed to free up the current rail line for commuter trains.
The findings of the inquiry were presented to about 50 people at a forum in Newcastle last night.
The inquiry also found a 15 minute timetable is needed for both buses and trains to encourage more people to use public transport.
Economist and member of the inquiry, Howard Dick says a freight corridor needs to be built from Fassifern through to Thornton
"We know that we're going to get more long freight trains, more long coal trains and that means more delays and as you say at times more breakdowns," he said.
"So the simple and only logical long term solution is get the freight out of the city then get a decent passenger transport system within the city. But it does require planning."
The forum also heard a transport interchange at Hamilton would be more effective than Wickham.
The Hunter Development Corporation's City Centre Renewal Plan, released in 2009 recommended an interchange be built at Wickham.
But the inquiry says the interchange needs to be further west because Wickham would draw traffic too far into the city centre.
Mr Dick says while an interchange at Hamilton would require detailed planning it is a more appropriate site.
"That's the obvious point where you transfer from the northern line onto the university and Maitland line, so that is the least diversion," he said.
"But at the moment it's not a good transfer from rail to rail and there is no bus interchange there at all so that would be quite an expensive project."
Mr Dick says parts of Lake Macquarie have been identified as priority areas for an express bus route into Newcastle.
The inquiry believes a 15 minute timetable is needed for both bus and train services, along with interchanges at Glendale and Hamilton and a freight bypass of Newcastle.
Mr Dick says public transport needs to service more areas to get the congestion off roads.
"We identify Swansea, Belmont, Charlestown into Newcastle as priority for an express bus route, it lends itself to it," he said.
"Something that is fast and frequent, certainly much better than an hour into town which people have to put up with presently" he said.
"So slow and infrequent is not the recipe to get people out of cars."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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