Gladys Berejiklian must release plans for how government will transport visitors to and from Asian Cup

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The NSW Labor Opposition has challenged Gladys Berejiklian to explain how the Hunter will host one of the world’s biggest sporting events in three months – the Asian Cup soccer tournament without a fully functional rail line. 

Cup fever hits Maitland today with the Asian Cup trophy and officials set to be given a civic welcome involving some of the region’s leading soccer stars – including Newcastle Jets representative Tara Andrews.

However, Shadow Minister for Sport and Recreation Guy Zangari has slammed the Government for failing to reveal what transport arrangements will be put in place given the Newcastle Rail Line will be cut on Boxing Day, two weeks before matches begin.

Hunter Stadium is scheduled to host four games including a semi-final and bronze-medal playoff potentially involving the Socceroos but once the rail line is cut, there will be no train link to the nearest station Broadmeadow from either the Newcastle or Maitland CBD.

“Yet another week has elapsed without Mike Baird or Gladys Berejiklian visiting the Hunter – or bothering to explain how they will dig the region out of the transport chaos that ensues from the Boxing Day rail truncation,” Mr Zangari said today.

“The Asian Cup is one of the world’s premier sporting events – and what a day for Maitland to be welcoming the trophy but the Government seems to have no credible plan for transporting the fans.

“People coming from both Newcastle and Maitland will have no direct train access to Hunter Stadium and that’s just nonsensical.

“You have the prospect of tens of thousands of visitors – many of them from overseas who will see the shutters up at Newcastle Station and be completely confused as to how to get to Broadmeadow.

“The Asian Cup is the Hunter’s time to shine – and it is very silly of the Government to be impeding rail access to Newcastle’s shops, beaches, cafes, bars and architectural landmarks.

“I say to Minister Berejiklian – for goodness sake, abandon this ridiculous plan to bring in the bulldozers on Boxing Day.

“Allow the Hunter the dignity of hosting a major global sporting event with a fully functioning rail line.”

Two weeks ago, the NSW Opposition wrote to the Premier requesting that the truncation of the Newcastle rail line be deferred until after the March election. Labor’s plan for the revitalization of Newcastle involves keeping

the rail line and redirecting the $340 million that the Baird Government wants to use for the truncation straight into additional works.

“Visitors arriving in Newcastle for the Asian Cup in January deserve better than to be greeted by transport chaos and demolition works,” Labor Candidate for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp said.

“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: “The Asian Cup has the potential to be a tremendous shot in the arm for Maitland and our city extends a warm welcome to the trophy and tournament officials who are visiting today.

“As someone who has worked in the travel industry, I am keen to see Maitland in there fighting for a big slice of the tourism and economic benefits that come from hosting a major sporting event.

“The last thing we want is visitors eager to visit our art gallery or historic gaol and then seeing the shutters up at Newcastle or Civic station – and giving up getting here because it’s all too hard.”

Ms Aitchison noted that from Boxing Day, people travelling from Maitland to Sydney will need to catch a train to Hamilton, switch to a bus to take them one stop to Broadmeadow and then switch back to a train to get to Central.

“The Baird Government is showing appalling disregard for Maitland if it thinks people will wear this,” Ms Aitchison said.

““Instead of hiding from Maitland, Gladys Berejiklian should be up here explaining what she is planning to put our commuters through.”

ASIAN CUP SCHEDULE IN NEWCASTLE

January 12 Japan v Palestine January 17 Oman v Kuwait January 27 Second Semi Final January 30 Bronze Medal Playoff 

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