Save Our Rail will continue its fight against the state government’s decision to terminate the Maitland-Newcastle railway line at Wickham after Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard refused to back down from the plans yesterday.
Mr Hazzard met with SOR representatives in Sydney where they outlined their concerns about the truncation of the line.
Group president Joan Dawson said Mr Hazzard politely listened to their arguments for the line’s retention but was adamant that it would be cut and commuters would be transferred onto buses at a first class interchange to complete their journey into Newcastle.
Ms Dawson said Mr Hazzard had no knowledge of the inadequacy of buses within the CBD and the group was determined to provide him with information that would change his mind about the government’s plan.
“There were some positive discussions and we are prepared to be involved in workshops and have input,” she said. “We think him consulting with us after the decision has been made is unacceptable.”
The group will rally the troops against the plan at a meeting at the Station Hotel in Hamilton at 5pm today where political parties will unite with the group and commuters will have a chance to express their opinions.
Opposition Leader John Robertson will test the government’s plan today with a train ride from Maitland to Wickham and then a bus from Wickham to Newcastle station.
Mr Hazzard said the government’s plan would strike a balance between urban renewal in Newcastle and the public transport needs of people in Maitland, Lake Macquarie and the rest of the Hunter.
“I indicated [to Save Our Rail that] we would have to agree to disagree, but I am keen to work with them on the bigger issue of better public transport and I am confident we can work together to achieve that,” Mr Hazzard said.
“Someone has to make a decision about how to revitalise Newcastle and this government has made it.
“Save Our Rail should be for Save Our Public Transport rather than Save Our Rail and work to make it better.”