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Closure of Newcastle rail stations not technically a closure of whole line, State Government lawyer says
The state's Transport Minister has refused to detail what evidence was used to justify the government's change of mind on the feasibility of light rail in Newcastle.
Earlier this year the Planning Minister Brad Hazzard said light rail in Newcastle was not economically viable or sustainable given the size of the population.
But the government has now committed to building light rail and has called for tenders to explore where the line should go and how it will revitalise the Newcastle CBD.
At a budget estimates hearing this week, Greens Upper House MP Mehreen Faruqi says she tried to get the Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian to explain what evidence she had to support the switch to light rail.
"And it seemed that there was no evidence," she said.
"The Greens strongly support investment in integrated public transport but not when it's done without clear and transparent justification.
"And in this case we especially need to be careful because it involves tearing up an existing line which serves thousands of people into Newcastle."
Ms Faruqi says she is not convinced the state government will not sell off Newcastle's rail corridor.
Ms Berejiklian told the budget estimates hearing the government had no current plans to sell off the rail corridor, but Mr Faruqi says that means nothing.
"Plans can change," she said.
"There's no commitment from the government from where the light rail line will be.
"No commitment to actually producing some evidence for the need for light rail which I'm sure is there, but what site, what options?
"The government has recently issued tenders to study the feasibility of light rail but they've been handed to particular companies so there's no transparency."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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