Newcastle Rail Line: Announcements

 

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  tezza Chief Commissioner

WHENEVER anyone asks me what I think about the Newcastle rail line, I usually reply that I can see good reasons for cutting it,and good reasons for keeping.

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2715563/ian-kirkwoo-dont-cut-rail-and-run/?cs=308

By IAN KIRKWOOD Nov. 23, 2014

I say the existing rail line, with its fences and pedestrian overpasses, is indeed the problem that its critics say it is, and that removing it is the key to the next logical stage in the central business district’s development.
But I also believe that cutting the line at Wickham will create more problems than it solves, and that an overpass or underpass at Stewart Avenue would be a better solution for the motoring majority.
For years, politicians and opinion-makers talked of the need for compromises.
But the two concepts at play here – the need to open up the city and the need to maintain the rail service – are so diametrically opposed as to make a ‘‘win-win’’ outcome almost impossible.
That is, of course, unless the rail went underground, but this has been so vocally ruled out – usually on grounds of cost, but sometimes with such spurious reasons as ‘‘drainage’’ – that I doubt it’s ever been properly considered.
Now, with Labor back in power in Newcastle, the rail issue is again political dynamite and I will not be surprised if Premier Mike Baird pulls the pin on his government’s decision in the coming days.
Even if he does stick to his guns and terminates the trains at Hamilton to allow construction of the Wickham terminus, the light rail side of the project is so conflicted – and so apparently underplanned – that we could end up with the very worst of outcomes: a truncated rail line with no real public transport replacement, and a conventional wisdom that says transport reform is ‘‘too hard’’ to carry through in Newcastle, leading to another generation of neglect by the power brokers in Sydney.
I was at the Fred Nile inquiry at Newcastle City Hall on Friday for most of the day, and it was not a pretty sight.
Typically, the upper house committee conducting the inquiry appears divided along partisan lines, with Liberals Catherine Cusack and Greg Pearce doing little more than running defence for a government in disgrace – rightly or wrongly – over the ICAC funding disclosures.
Committee members spoke over each other.
Any mention of former lord mayor Jeff McCloy or of Hunter Development Corporation general manager Bob Hawes drew hisses and cries of ‘‘shame’’ from an audience liberally salted with members of the Greens and Save Our Rail. That said, the government, the HDC and the developers have given the critics plenty to chew on.
As someone who has reported on aspects of the rail debate, it was clear to me  the University of Newcastle had always said publicly that its inner city campus was not dependent on the rail line being cut, a position the university’s representatives reinforced on Friday.
Yet here were documents, some uncovered by a Greens-backed ‘‘call for papers’’ in the upper house, in which the development corporation was claiming the campus was contingent on the rail line being cut.
The corporation also had Newcastle City Council supporting a rail ‘‘terminus’’ at Wickham, when the relevant 2008 resolution was for a rail ‘‘interchange’’.
A minor point, some might say, but the pro-rail lobby sees such examples in a more sinister light.
Similarly, the government’s refusal, thus far, to release a whole host of rail reports, including any rigorous cost-benefit analysis of its plans, does make it look as though there is something to hide.
And I would not be surprised if the consultants have had a hard time making the numbers stack up.
I was at Wickham station on June 26 last year when Mr Baird, then still the treasurer, came to town to unveil plans for a light rail running straight down the heavy rail corridor.
In the very same hour, Mr McCloy went public with his vision for a Hunter Street light rail, clearly catching the government by surprise.
As far as I know, the engineers and experts are still trying to make it work.
And Boxing Day is fast approaching.
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
They could of reopened the level crossing next to the box to open it up a bit, maybe if we milk the corruption we can expose the hidden agenda but as the weeks roll by a back flip seems unlikely.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
If the railway line is cut and buildings are put in its place wouldn't they create more of a visual barrier to the foreshore than the current occasional train?

Newcastle seems to have a good transport interchange as it is with the buses and the nearby Stockton ferry and all the green space near the foreshore. Would it really be good to have all of that replaced by large buildings?
  Showtime Chief Train Controller

If the railway line is cut and buildings are put in its place wouldn't they create more of a visual barrier to the foreshore than the current occasional train?

Newcastle seems to have a good transport interchange as it is with the buses and the nearby Stockton ferry and all the green space near the foreshore. Would it really be good to have all of that replaced by large buildings?
GeoffreyHansen

Well it would be good for the developers!
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
Well it would be good for the developers!
"Showtime"


But what about the public who are supposed to be the owners of the land?
  NotebookMan Assistant Commissioner

Location: Wahroonga NSW
But what about the public who are supposed to be the owners of the land?
GeoffreyHansen

... and what about the public who are supposed to be the owners of the Port of Newcastle, which was sold off to subsidise the developers' pipe dreams? They get the mushroom treatment.
  NotebookMan Assistant Commissioner

Location: Wahroonga NSW
They could of reopened the level crossing next to the box to open it up a bit, maybe if we milk the corruption we can expose the hidden agenda but as the weeks roll by a back flip seems unlikely.
Junction box

It's interesting to think about what a backflip on the rail truncation issue would cost this government. It's almost a confession of guilt, or (even worse) that their whole plan for Newcastle is faulty. They sold the Port to help finance it, unless they really are planning two platforms and a poor man's rustic cowshed for the new terminus. They spent a lot of money (and presumably even more goodwill) helping the Singapore GIC put Humpty Dumpty (oops, I mean GPT) back together again financially after the GFC, using Landcom => Urban Growth. They have visions of high-rise as the payoff for all this.

Trying to brazen it out will be painful for this government. But I think it's all they have left.
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
LOL at selling our Port so the Chinese can hold us to ransom in five years, Im not sure running a tram up main street and selling the train line is Newcastle moving forward.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper

"The second thing that they need to do is to seek bids from actual tunnel constructing companies as to what they say it would cost to building a tunnel as opposed to asking developers what they think it would cost building a tunnel."
"ABC News"


The above is what should be done. IE make some proper enquiries as to the actual costs of sinking the line.
  tezza Chief Commissioner

Yes that's right spend millions to sink a line that very few people use or want to use. Do any of you actually live in the region to know what youre talking about? The line id going because very few people use it and i would love to see high rise on the old corridor because as a mass transit railway line it is completely bloody useless.
  arctic Deputy Commissioner

Location: Zurich
LOL at selling our Port so the Chinese can hold us to ransom in five years, Im not sure running a tram up main street and selling the train line is Newcastle moving forward.
"Junction box"


Why five years? What's going to happen?
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
Why five years? What's going to happen?
arctic

Well they will probably be nice at first then rip us off to go anywhere near their Port, I bet you a million bux they over charge.
A city should not sell its port, it was a short sighted decision to buy a stupid tram.
  NotebookMan Assistant Commissioner

Location: Wahroonga NSW
Yes that's right spend millions to sink a line that very few people use or want to use. Do any of you actually live in the region to know what youre talking about? The line id going because very few people use it and i would love to see high rise on the old corridor because as a mass transit railway line it is completely bloody useless.
tezza

Well there you have it, the real answer is to spend millions to truncate "a line that very few people use or want to use". If the line was "completely bloody useless" there would be no problem with shutting down all Newcastle suburban services. The core of Tezza's post is the declaration "I would love to see high rise on the old corridor". Everything else is subordinate.
  gw0071 Deputy Commissioner

As a potential social obligation towards being a sound global corporate citizen, perhaps China Merchants could contribute towards the infrastructure development of the Newcastle CBD and the transportation issues that will arise beyond that of resource transhipment. In view of the price paid for the lease hold, I'm sure that they stand to sap a tidy profit from the world's busiest coal port over the next 98 years
  Bethungra Train Controller
  arctic Deputy Commissioner

Location: Zurich
Well they will probably be nice at first then rip us off to go anywhere near their Port, I bet you a million bux they over charge.
A city should not sell its port, it was a short sighted decision to buy a stupid tram.
Junction box

To be fair my understanding is that the Newcastle Port was leased to a 50:50 JV between an ASX listed company and China Merchants. There are also obligations under the ACCC and also State & Commonwealth-based regulation of port charges.

Also- my understanding the NSW govt got a price that is 27x earnings. A good deal for the govt for an asset they retain price control and also ultimate ownership.

Cheers
  tezza Chief Commissioner

The Nile Inquiry and Moving Newcastle Forward....

http://youngpoliticalofficial.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/the-nile-inquiry-and-moving-newcastle.html?m=1

On Friday 21 November 2014, I entered Newcastle City Hall ready to deliver an address on behalf of the young people of Newcastle ahead of major decisions being made that aimed to contribute to our city's renewal. From the moment I entered the room I felt excluded, I did not fit the crowd. Piercing eyes hit me like lazers and in Julie Bishop style maintained their intensity for the duration of my time within the Inquiry room. They knew from that first moment that I wasn't a Save Our Rail sympathiser, rather that I had a plan and vision to cater for Newcastle's youth that didn't fit their post-colonial agenda. Below is the speech that I presented to the inquiry amidst jeers and taunts from the noisy minority of backward Novocastrians:





"My name is Matthew Newman, I am an 18 year old Novocastrian not concerned, but excited about decisions being made in Newcastle. For the first time in Newcastle’s history we are seeing record levels of investment and interest on an international scale which promises to deliver a city that is vibrant and energetic whilst maintaining its character.


I aim to use this opportunity to spell out the need to create a city that is Workable, Liveable and Connected for the adults of tomorrow. Today’s youth, often labelled Generation Z, are pragmatic, intelligent and insightful in everything we do, despite this, young people have not been included in the renewal discussion. Newcastle needs not be created to accommodate Australia’s aging population and turn into a macro retirement village. We need to embrace the talent, innovation and charisma of our city’s youth so that Newcastle is ready to accept the challenges the future undoubtedly holds.



Some of you might have per-conceived expectations and opinions on how to renew Newcastle, and no matter the response you gauge from the community your solidified opinions will not wane. I understand this, but I would request that you take the time to consider my point of view and why it is so important that the progress that has been made in Newcastle is not halted. I am going to explore 3 key aspects of Newcastle’s renewal that are central to creating a city for the future. We need a city that is workable, liveable and connected.


To my first point, making the city Workable. This means supporting and developing a means by which employment can be sustained in the long term. The current proposals for the East end development, light rail implementation and the Wickham interchange will create thousands of construction jobs for a decade which will then translate into retail and commercial positions looking into the future. Bringing thousands of additional people into the city on a daily basis presents obvious economic benefits of the city and will generate a culture of prosperity whereby people will want to start up and support new and existing businesses contrary to the once derelict and deserted situation.

This leads into my next point of making the city liveable. This starts with bringing people into the city to live and delivering the services to support their lifestyles. The GPT group’s plan to build 500 apartments in the East End on top of the thousands that plan to be built in other projects stretching throughout the city will provide a population to support the small to medium enterprises that will occupy the currently empty facades.
Whilst on this note it is important to consider transport situation. A noisy minority have rattled about the removal of the rail line as the end of all efficient transport solutions in the city. This couldn’t be further the truth and all arguments they put forward are entrenched in emotion, neglecting the facts presented in the Review of Environmental Factors submissions report and the AECOM transport management and accessibility plan. Both outline an effective and reliable transport network that includes buses, light rail and I believe could be bolstered by an extension of the city’s ferry network – including terminals at Wickham to support the interchange and an additional one at Nobby’s beach to support the crowd who come to the city for our world class beaches. This would subdue any pressure on the existing and new transport systems whilst providing an added benefit to the city.

Lastly, let’s make Newcastle connected. First and foremost we must remove the rail line that divides our harbour from the city. Interestingly when the rail line was first installed in 1857, Community sentiment was staunchly opposed to its construction with fears that it will ‘divide the city’. Ironically, as was the case some 157 years ago, again the noisy minority made a case of opposition to progress in the city, and how history has repeated itself! It seems is the case that there are people who fear the future, who fear progress and who fear development. We need to move forward and connect our city, with our harbour whilst embracing our beaches and West End. Imagine a city which is not limited in potential and can prosper with an open planned layout.



Our representatives need to stop their political opportunism and constant endeavors to create political advantage through emotion filled campaigns based on fear. We as a city do feel let down by the ICAC revelations, but our mission to see this city prosper should not be perturbed. Newcastle needs us to unite and work with the decisions that have been made rather than continuing a debate that has raged longer then I have been alive. The current indecision is hurting business confidence and the positive steps that have been taken as part of this long journey are being put at risk. We need to create a city that will support and accommodate the wants and needs of the adults of tomorrow and I implore this committee to not disturb the progress that is being made. When considering the contents of your final report, consider the young people of Newcastle and consider your role in creating a workable, liveable and connected city for us to inherit"
Are you a young Novocastrian who also wants to see progress continued in our city? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
  Showtime Chief Train Controller

So the kid is 18 and wants to make a change but has no real world experience.
He's dreaming of a Utopia that can't be had in Australia.
It would be nice to be able to believe everything the elected leaders tell us.
Give him another 10 years and he will see the error of his ways.
By then there will still have been no light rail and transport in Newcastle would have become so difficult that nobody will be there to shop at all.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

Matthew Newton read "his" speech. The word "his" is deliberately in double quotes for a reason.

But as for "piercing eyes' comment, that was wrong. Each inquiry was opened to everyone, no matter what their position is. And the rail line was not the only issue.
  Newcastle Express Chief Commissioner

Transcript for Monday's (24 Nov 2014) inquiry: http://tinyurl.com/k5mwxrs

Remember that they were under oath
Mr Byres & Andrew Fletcher were there for the Property Council of Australia
Page 48:
Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: You have a good number of members who own property in Newcastle?
Mr BYRES: Some of them would, yes.
Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: And is the former lord mayor one of your members?
Mr BYRES: To explain, we do not have a membership based on individual membership, we have membership based on companies. If you are asking if the McCloy Group is a member, it is.
Mr DAVID SHOEBRIDGE: The McCloy Group owns a lot of property either side of the proposed
light rail route that you are endorsing. Do you see the conflict there?
Mr BYRES: We have formed this view based on 10 years of work. We do not and never will advocate on behalf of a single member.

Page 52 (Still under oath)
The Hon. CATHERINE CUSACK: Is there anyone in the Newcastle business community who wants to see the railway line maintained?
Mr FLETCHER: No.
The Hon. LYNDA VOLTZ: Nobody.

(The transcript for page 52 should have Andrew Fletcher's no, as a "NO!", a short, sharp quick no. Lynda Voltz's nobody should be a "Nobody?" as in a question.)
  tezza Chief Commissioner

Newcastle Express you have ommitted a list of the businesses that support retention of the railway to back up your above post.
  PKBeam Locomotive Driver

Location: Somewhere in NSW
I'd like to see that list
  Fred Scuttle Junior Train Controller

Location: Point Clare, NSW
We heard you the first time, Northern Flyer  -  no need to be tediously repetitive . . . . . . . .
  Magic Man Station Master

The Nile Inquiry and Moving Newcastle Forward....

http://youngpoliticalofficial.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/the-nile-inquiry-and-moving-newcastle.html?m=1

On Friday 21 November 2014, I entered Newcastle City Hall ready to deliver an address on behalf of the young people of Newcastle ahead of major decisions being made that aimed to contribute to our city's renewal. From the moment I entered the room I felt excluded, I did not fit the crowd. Piercing eyes hit me like lazers and in Julie Bishop style maintained their intensity for the duration of my time within the Inquiry room. They knew from that first moment that I wasn't a Save Our Rail sympathiser, rather that I had a plan and vision to cater for Newcastle's youth that didn't fit their post-colonial agenda. Below is the speech that I presented to the inquiry amidst jeers and taunts from the noisy minority of backward Novocastrians:


"My name is Matthew Newman, I am an 18 year old Novocastrian not concerned, but excited about decisions being made in Newcastle. For the first time in Newcastle’s history we are seeing record levels of investment and interest on an international scale which promises to deliver a city that is vibrant and energetic whilst maintaining its character.
tezza

Is this the same Matthew Newman aged 18 years old from Newcastle who is a member of the Young Liberals?
https://twitter.com/mattnewman96

>>

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