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The Newcastle rail debate will heat up again this week as stakeholders appeal parts of a Supreme Court decision that an Act of Parliament is needed to remove the train line that stretches into the CBD.
But a final outcome might not be known for several weeks.
The appeals, by state government agency Hunter Development Corporation and lobby group Save Our Rail, will be heard at the NSW Court of Appeals on Wednesday and Thursday.
They deal with a ruling made by Supreme Court Justice Michael Adams last December that HDC had taken ownership of the rail infrastructure, not just the rail corridor land, so the organisation needed an Act of Parliament to truncate the train line.
Save Our Rail Maitland president Kim Cross said she expected the court’s findings to be reserved.
She said she expected a written judgement to be delivered in the coming months and guessed the matter would take about eight weeks to finalise.
“What we will do, though, is get a feel for how the judges are feeling [regarding the issue],” Ms Cross said.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the government was continuing its work to deliver “the best transport solution for the city”.
“We’ve always said we’re not going to hold Newcastle back any longer,” he said.
“We will wait for the outcome of legal proceedings, but I would say to everyone, it’s time to get on board and build for the future.”
Justice Adams’s ruling in December meant the government could not remove the heavy rail line, which it had planned to begin on Boxing Day.
The government has since replaced trains with buses between Hamilton and Newcastle stations and covered sections of the unused track with road base and grass to create crossings.
The rail issue has been an ongoing source of division in the Hunter.
A transport interchange at Wickham, where the train line would be cut, would be a base for a light rail network into the city, under the government’s plan.
Some people have argued that the truncation would allow for a more vibrant revamp of Newcastle’s city centre, which would benefit the greater Hunter.
But others, including regular public transport users from Maitland and surrounding towns, have expressed concern that the change could make it more difficult for people to access services, work and leisure activities in the city.
This article first appeared on www.maitlandmercury.com.au
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