Labor writes to premier demanding halt to rail truncation

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NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson has written to Premier Mike Baird requesting that the Government cease all plans to suspend services or remove the Newcastle rail line before the March 2015 State election. 

The Baird Government has announced that it will end direct train services to Civic and Newcastle on Boxing Day instead forcing commuters to get out at Wickham.

On a visit to Civic Station today with Labor Candidate for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp, Mr Robertson said the Government lacked a mandate to remove the rail line before the election.

“I believe the people of the Hunter deserve the chance to vote on the future of their rail line without having it ripped away from them on Boxing Day,” Mr Robertson said. (See full letter attached).

“The community was not told before the 2011 election that the Liberal Party wanted to rip up the Newcastle rail line.

“Since that time, serious questions have emerged about the probity of the Government’s planning processes in the Hunter matters that are now the subject of a Parliamentary Inquiry.

“The Premier is well aware that Labor – if elected in March will continue full service on the Newcastle rail line. We will also use the $340 million allocated by the Liberals to dismantle the line to build new infrastructure for the region.

“It is only right that the Baird Government cease all plans to suspend or remove the line before the March election.

“If the Government were to dismantle the rail line before the next election, I believe it would be acting without a popular mandate.”

Labor Candidate for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp noted that Civic Station was close to the proposed site of the University of Newcastle campus expansion.

“It would be complete madness for the Liberals to rip up the rail line and leave thousands of additional students without a direct public transport option,” Mr Crakanthorp said.

“Suspending services on Boxing Day makes no sense. To close the line during the height of tourism season – with people eager to hit the beach and the Asian Cup football around the corner the Baird Government would be sending a message that Newcastle was shut right at the time we should be promoting our city to the world.

“The Government should leave the Newcastle rail line the way it is – and allow people to have their say at the election.” 

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