Artist impression of an upgraded Broadmeadow station from 2004
The NSW Government have confirm that on Boxing Day, December 26 2014, that the Newcastle line will be truncated (cut off) permently from Wickham, meaning trains will no longer terminate at what is currently Newcastles main CBD terminus.
This means trains on the Newcastle and Hunter regional lines will have to compete for terminus space at Wickham until the new station has been built to accommodate more trains via new platforms.
Along with this announcement, the NSW Government along with the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian who is also the minister for the Hunter region, has along with the NSW Planning Minister, Pru Goward, stated that trains from Wickham to Newcastle CBD will be replaced by Light Rail.
However until the Light Rail stops, along with signaling equipment and reconditioned tracks and the purchase of new light rail vehicles (also commonly known as trams) are built, buses will be supplementing services into the main CBD area of Newcastle.
Now whilst the truncation of heavy rail and replacement of these services via light rail are going to transform public transport for novocastrians, there are issues that not only we have found here at TfANSW, but also through various other community lobby groups and transport experts alike which are very worrying.
These issues namely relate to the timeline of this whole process, which seems very rushed at best, but also the main issue is the timeline for the light rail conversion process of the heavy rail from Wickham to Newcastle CBD.
Based on the press releases from not only the Ministers Office along but also local MP's and Transport for NSW is the issue surrounding the light rail conversion, which is not slated to begin until just on a year from the official truncation of the heavy rail from Wickham.
To us here at Transport for All NSW this is very worrying considering that planning for the new light rail stops, along with the conversion of heavy rail tracks, signals, power supply, wiring and building of new Light Rail Vehicles should be in the planning stages, with the beginning of conversion building stage happening immediately after the truncation of services, it certainly shows that this whole process has been rushed and little thought given to the thousands of commuters who still need to travel into the heart of Newcastles CBD beyond Wickham, especially people with disabilities who will be forced onto crowded smaller state owned Government Bus services run by State Transit/Newcastle Buses.
To be honest, such planning should be currently undertaken along with the release of what an upgraded Wickham Terminus will exactly look like, along with the transport interchange between heavy rail, light rail and buses but also planning of the conversion building stage be undertaken now.
We have reached out to the Transport Minister for comment, however at the date of publish we have been advised that a response can take up to 1 month.
We would like to hear your thoughts about the truncation of the heavy rail system but also the conversion of the system to Light Rail and the timeline for such a conversion to occur. Tell us your thoughts in the comments below