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THE majority of inner-city residents who attended a community consultation on the state government’s light rail plan last night were wholeheartedly behind the project.
Their only concern seemed to be how it was going to work.
More than 90 people flowed in and out of Newcastle City Hall over three hours to view plans for the removal of heavy rail in Newcastle’s CBD.
Representatives from UrbanGrowth NSW and Transport for NSW were on hand to answer their queries.
Ray Pratt and his wife Patti, of New Lambton, said they were “without a doubt’’ supportive of the project.
“I just think that it should be a loop,” Mr Pratt said.
“But this should have happened 20 years ago.
“With all the money they’ve spent on planning and consulting they could have had the thing half built by now.”
Kerrie Swan, of Newcastle East, was at the consultation with her husband David.
“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have it on the existing rail corridor,” she said.
“Scott Street is already a bottleneck.
“[Light rail on] Hunter Street, that makes sense. It goes past all the cafes and shops.”
Jenny Cook, of Merewether, said it was “fantastic” that light rail was finally happening.
“I just hope the state government doesn’t short change us,” she said.
“If it’s done well it’s going to be great.”
Yet some people weren’t sold on the idea.
While Giles Martin, of Hamilton East, admitted he would use light rail if installed, he said it was a waste of money.
“I’m a supporter of the heavy rail,” he said.
“I think there are things they can do to fix the perceived problems without removing it.’’
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Existing line better option
NSW lobby group Save Our Rail remains convinced that the heavy rail line into Newcastle is the best public transport option for commuters, Maitland branch president Kim Cross said.
Ms Cross said the group wanted the heavy rail line retained into Newcastle station, and was disappointed consultation with Maitland people was held after the decision to install light rail had been made.
The group is sceptical patronage numbers will increase when commuters move from the heavy rail line onto buses, and eventually onto light rail when it is built.
‘‘Every study that has been done shows that when you change modes there is a decrease in patronage.’’
Ms Cross said if the government was adamant about installing light rail it could begin at the end of the heavy rail line near Newcastle station, instead of at Wickham where the line will be terminated.
This article first appeared on www.theherald.com.au
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