Jul 18

Newcastle rail survey highlights concerns

EXPERIMENT: Wickham rail station is a key to rail cuts now under scrutiny.RESULTS from a new community survey has found the majority of Hunter train users reject the imminent rail cuts scheduled for Civic and Newcastle stations.

The online survey of 733 train travellers was put together by retired Newcastle University professor Patricia Gillard, from Community Too.

Dr Gillard commissioned the survey soon after the NSW Legislative Council launched an inquiry into the planning process in Newcastle and the Hunter, following ICAC hearings.

She felt the state government failed to carry out proper, evidence-based research before it decided to truncate Newcastle’s heavy rail line.

The results of the survey have been submitted to the inquiry, which is due to hand down its findings next year, with an interim report by Christmas.

Sixty-two per cent of those surveyed by Community Too rejected the rail cuts.

The survey found travellers to Newcastle, Civic and Warabrook stations were the most regular users of the train line.

Travellers to Newcastle and Civic stations would be the worst affected by the cuts, saying they faced extra time travelling and threats to their safety.

People with a disability said they would have major difficulties travelling into the city with poor connectivity.

Half of the 32 per cent who supported the rail cuts said they would not be affected by the cuts.

They said they looked forward to improved traffic flow, better connectivity between the CBD and the harbour.

Dr Gillard said cuts to the two city stations appeared to be more like a social experiment than a project for public benefit.

She said more time and opportunity was needed for public discussion, and evidence-based, integrated planning was needed.

More than 250 public submissions into the upper house inquiry have been received to date.

The inquiry was launched soon after several Hunter MPs admitted to ICAC they had accepted allegedly illegal donations from developers.

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