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A BUSINESS case for the extension of the Newcastle light rail should be ready for public consultation early next year, Transport for NSW has confirmed.
Investigations into four potential routes – described as “priority corridors” – are already under way, with an extension from the Wickham interchange to John Hunter Hospital via Broadmeadow top of the list.
The other priority corridors are on the existing main roads from Wickham to Charlestown, Mayfield and Wallsend.
It is not known what the business case will recommend but the main government agency involved, Transport for NSW (TfNSW), is pushing for high frequency bus services as a first step before light rail, because they can be put in place more quickly and cheaply than light rail.
Although the business case is looking at all four routes, future connections to Broadmeadow and John Hunter are undergoing more detailed investigations.
“To extend the light rail we must do the necessary groundwork to model the impacts and benefits of light rail along with cost and a business case,” a TfNSW spokesperson said.
“The first step towards extending light rail is a strategic business case, currently under way, looking at [the] four priority corridors.
“This work will confirm the first stage and potential future stages of extending light rail as well as the investment required to strengthen existing public transport.
“Improving bus servicing to key areas will have a beneficial effect through the shorter term while the planning for light rail is under way.”
BRAND NEW: The first light rail set soon after its recent arrival in Newcastle. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
TfNSW hopes to have the strategic business case delivered to Mr Constance by the end of the year, with documents to be ready for public display in early 2019.
The John Hunter line would run from Wickham along Tudor Street, Hamilton, onto Belford Street, Broadmeadow, and along Lambton Road – along the “Gully Line” up to Russell Road, New Lambton, before turning into Lookout Road and the hospital.
Old maps show trams ran from the city as far as Turton Road, where the track swung north-west onto Hobart Road – past Western Suburbs Leagues Club – and ending at the intersection of Howe Street and Croudace Street, Lambton.
As well as the promised business case, the potential for light rail extension is outlined in the NSW government’s 40-year vision for the movement of people and goods across the region – the Greater Newcastle Future Travel Plan 2056 – which has been obtained by the Newcastle Herald before its publication today.
This article first appeared on www.theherald.com.au
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