Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Newcastle Heritage Railway Station must remain a unique railway destination in the Newcastle urban renewal strategy 2012. 

The O'Farrell Government has acted recklessly in announcing a termination of passenger rail services to historic Newcastle Station at the same time as announcing a new transport interchange will be built at Wickham, a suburb of Newcastle, with buses replacing trains.

No Environmental Impact Statement has been prepared for this proposal.

The rights of the disabled, the young and the elderly, indeed all railway users have been discriminated against without the slightest consideration in this reckless announcement.

Concerning cross rail connectivity: in recent years HDC has overseen the removed 3 pedestrian over-bridges and 2 vehicular level crossings. (Over-bridges at Bolton St, Worth Pl. and Cooper St. & Level crossings at Hannell St. & Market St.)

Two new replacement Level Crossings should be completed at Steel Street and Worth Place. (the roads each side of the railway have been in place for many years). The 3 pedestrian over-bridges could be replaced at convenient locations between Wickham and Newcastle.

Newcastle Rail Station Heritage importance & accessibility : 

The Newcastle Railway Station is a heritage place having the distinction of being a unique terminal station of the second passenger rail system in NSW (The Great Northern Railway: 1857 - Newcastle to Maitland) the station is situated in the heart of historic Newcastle close to the harbour Foreshore and the Newcastle Beaches. It is listed on the NSW State Heritage Register and is surrounded by other State Heritage Items: the Coal River Precinct including Nobbys Headland and Fort Scratchley and the Convict Lumber Yard. The wonderful Customs House with its distinctive clock tower and Time Ball and the Great Northern Hotel are heritage listed sites adjacent to the station. Many elderly and disabled people as well as commuters from the Central Coast and from the Hunter Valley including Maitland travel to Newcastle rail station  to access this unique destination and appreciate its excellent accessible platforms with their easy access to the harbour and Stockton Ferry and existing bus interchange.

The announcement must be set aside and the passenger rail services be made a feature of the Renewal Strategy with improved pedestrian access to Wickham and Civic Stations and the replacement of the connectivity removed in the past two decades.

The legal machinery to correct this situation must be invoked by directing the Hunter Development Corporation to review its "Approved Scheme" which is totally inappropriate for its widened responsibility over the whole Hunter Region.

The Hunter Region deserves better, Premier O'Farrell.

Doug Lithgow

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