Well-respected Maitland community member Chris Welbourne has called on voters to punish the state government at the March polls if it cuts the rail line on Boxing Day.
Mr Welbourne, who was the district schools inspector for 12 years and principal of Maitland Grossmann High School, said Maitland MP Robyn Parker had failed the city in negotiations to save the rail despite her best intentions.
“I think Maitland people should show their disapproval,” he said.
“[Maitland] can’t vote them out statewide, but they can show their disapproval in Maitland.”
Ms Parker and the Liberal Party candidate for Maitland Steve Thomson have gone to ground on the issue, refusing to comment publicly on the Wickham truncation.
Mr Welbourne, who is a fan of the half-hour express train between Victoria Street and Newcastle Station, is incensed with the government.
In his possession is a flier from February 2012 in which Ms Parker pledged her support of the rail.
“I will continue to fight to ensure that the people of Maitland receive an efficient and effective transport system which will provide the level of service its commuters deserve,” she said.
In the web document Guide to Newcastle Transport Changes, it advises that bus services from Newcastle will leave about 25 minutes before connecting trains are due to depart Hamilton. Mr Welbourne said these trains usually took only seven minutes for the short journey.
“That means that a train journey from Newcastle to anywhere beyond Hamilton [including Maitland] will take 18 minutes longer,” he said.
“Is adding 18 minutes to the journey and a change from one mode of transport to another what Mrs Parker calls efficient?”
Mr Welbourne is chairman of Maitland Community Care Services, which supplies clients with transport services.
The service would usually encourage its clients to use the Hunter line rail services, but Mr Welbourne said he would reconsider this after Boxing Day.
“We’ve got frail and elderly people who need a straightforward procedure from point A to point B,” he said. “I would put money on Robyn Parking standing up in cabinet for the rail service and she was most likely outvoted.
“That’s why the Liberal Party should lose the seat of Maitland in the March election.”