Rev Fred Nile calls on the Government to delay closing Newcastle electric train line at Wickham Station 

18 December 2014

Truncation of the Newcastle rail line

should not proceed on Boxing Day

The parliamentary committee inquiring into the planning process in Newcastle and the broader Hunter region has today tabled an interim report, declaring that the truncation of the Newcastle rail line should not proceed on Boxing Day 2014 as planned.

The Chairman of the committee, the Revd the Hon Fred Nile MLC, said: “The committee has issued this early report due to the NSW Government’s decision to truncate the electric railway during the Christmas holidays”.

The interim report examines the proposals to truncate the Newcastle city rail electric line at Wickham and construct light rail to the Newcastle city centre. Revd Nile said: “The decision to truncate the rail line was based upon flawed cost-benefit analysis and we have not seen any other business case to support the truncation. Likewise, the decision to construct the light rail was made without full consideration of alternative options.”

“We are concerned that these two critical decisions appear to have been made without adequate consideration of the community’s concerns.”

Revd Nile continued: “The committee has therefore recommended that no steps be taken to remove any rail infrastructure until there is a peer-reviewed report thoroughly considering the economic, social and environmental costs and benefits of alternative options to removing and retaining the existing rail line. Such options could include sinking the rail line, constructing additional overbridges and/or level crossings, landscaping the existing rail corridor and reducing train speeds.”

“We are also perplexed by the government’s decision to truncate the heavy rail line on Boxing Day 2014 given that the construction of the light rail is not expected to commence until late 2015 and there is no defined completion date. If truncation of the rail line does proceed, the NSW Government should postpone the date of truncation at least until construction of the light rail service commences.”

Revd Nile concluded: “We strongly encourage the government to implement our recommendations and restore public confidence in the planning process in Newcastle.”

The committee’s final report will be published by 27 February 2015. Further information about the inquiry is also available on the committee’s website.  Copies of the report can be downloaded from

http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/newcastleplanning

Refer Hansard for Rev Nile’s Question and Speech.

HYPERLINK “http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/” http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/

For Media Interviews contact:
Rev Fred Nile (02) 9230 2478 or 0418 619 731

Research Assistant: Belinda Dover (02) 9230 2978

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The Rev. The Hon. Fred Nile MLC ED L.Th

Member of the Legislative Council

Assistant President of The Legislative Council

Parliamentary Leader, Christian Democratic Party

Parliament House, Macquarie Street, SYDNEY NSW 2000

Telephone: (02) 9230 2478    Facsimile: (02) 9230 2098

Email: f.nile@parliament.nsw.gov.au