The people have spoken.
Thousands of residents marched on Civic Park to protest the truncation of the rail line into Newcastle.
People from Maitland and the Upper Hunter joined others from Lake Macquarie and Newcastle at the beginning of the Rally for the Rail in Pacific Park on Sunday morning.
Save Our Rail president and Dungog resident Joan Dawson addressed up to 3000 people at the rally after the crowd marched down Hunter Street to Civic Park.
Protesters chanted slogans and waved banners to show their anger at the state government’s determination to cut the rail line at Wickham on Boxing Day.
Mrs Dawson told the protesters Save Our Rail would organise direct action if necessary.
“This decision to cut the rail line has not been made with due process,” she said.
“There has not been consultation with the community or the original owners of this land.
“If they do manage to close the rail line on Boxing Day, we are endeavouring to use every legal means necessary to stop the chop.
“Let me assure you, if the closure does go ahead it will only be temporary, Save Our Rail will not give up this fight.”
Opposition Leader John Robertson spoke at Pacific Park before the march.
“I’ve said if Labor is elected in March next year and this mob have stopped the trains then we will reinstate train services back into Newcastle,” he said.
“What we have is a government who is arrogant, out of touch and completely missing what the opportunities are for Newcastle and the wider Hunter.
“What we have is a decision that is the ultimate act of vandalism.
“This region deserves to be treated with respect.
“We need to all stand together to make sure this decision does not proceed.”
Senator Janet Rice (Greens) and Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes also spoke at the event.
A train left Telarah Station at 9.45am packed with protesters from Maitland and the Upper Hunter.
East Maitland woman Hannah Hill, 18, joined the Save Our Rail express from Victoria Street Station.
“It’s good to see heaps of people involved,” she said.
“There’s lots of young people here today as well, my age and younger, which is exciting.
“I think, with this number of people, they’ll [the government] start to realise people are on to them, they just can’t ignore them anymore.
“Young people are now getting to that voting age and we have a say now.”
Opposition Leader John Robertson, Greens Senator Janet Rice and Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes all spoke at the event.