Countdown to the Asian Cup

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The NSW Labor Opposition has called on Premier Mike Baird to explain how Newcastle will handle the tens of thousands of extra tourists and visitors expected to pour into the city for Asian Cup football matches at Hunter Stadium without a rail line into its CBD. 

With just 100 days to go until tournament matches begin on January 9, the Baird Government is refusing to answer basic questions about what, if any, bus services, will replace the train when the rail line is cut between Wickham and Newcastle on Boxing Day.

Last week, the NSW Opposition wrote to the Premier requesting that the truncation of the Newcastle Rail Line be deferred until after the March election. This would allow people to have their say on the Government’s plan and – along with summer tourists – avoid serious inconvenience over summer.

“The Asian Cup is one of the world’s premier football events – and it is fantastic that Newcastle has been selected to host four matches including one of the semi-finals,” Shadow Minister for Tourism and Major Events Steve Whan said today.

“With an estimated television audience of 700 million people – and tens of thousands of extra people due to pour into the city – the exposure for Newcastle and the Hunter is priceless.

“It makes no sense that in the middle of this extravaganza, the Baird Government has announced it will cut the Newcastle Rail Line leaving tens of thousands of tourists stranded.

“The Baird Government needs to bow to reality and drop its rail truncation plan – because it reality is a recipe for transport chaos.”

Labor Candidate for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp said: “The Asian Cup is an opportunity for Newcastle to shine on the international stage – and tourists deserve better than to be greeted by the Baird Government’s transport chaos and demolition works.

“Trains move more people than buses – and tourists coming into our city for the Asian Cup should have unimpeded rail access between Hunter Stadium and the shops, beaches, cafes, bars and architectural landmarks around Newcastle’s East End.

“No Government would have been silly enough to shut Central and Town Hall stations during the Sydney Olympics in 2000 – and the same principle should apply to Newcastle and Civic.”

Labor Candidate for Maitland Jenny Aitchison added: “Tourists during the Asian Cup should be able to catch the train from the Newcastle CBD direct to Maitland and our wonderful art gallery or the historic gaol at East Maitland – just the way visitors to the Hunter have always done.

“I’m appalled that the Baird Government is preparing to hang a closed sign over the Hunter right when we have a chance to promote Maitland to the world.

“It would be a terrible look to have the rail line shut while a major international sporting event is in full swing.”

ASIAN CUP SCHEDULE IN NEWCASTLE

January 12 – Japan v Palestine January 17 – Oman v Kuwait January 27 – Second Semi Final January 30 – Third Place Playoff 

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