CLOSING?: The Hannell Street gates in Newcastle WestTHE state government is poised to make one of the biggest political statements in the Hunter’s history by ripping up the inner-city rail line between Hamilton and Newcastle.
At least that’s been the talk of the town all week.
Woodville Junction at Hamilton is understood to be the preferred terminus, with a green corridor left, allowing for a future light rail service, into the CBD.
Premier Barry O’Farrell and Minister for the Hunter Mike Gallacher will not make an announcement until next year but there is a meeting on December 19 to examine the proposal.
Various business sources have told the Newcastle Herald they have been consulted about the plan.
Newcastle state MP Tim Owen was tight-lipped about the topic yesterday, leaving it for the Premier’s office to issue this statement: ‘‘We are having ongoing discussions with stakeholders to examine the options for transport in Newcastle and the Hunter.’’
Woodville Junction was identified by lord mayor John Tate as the perfect site for the city’s rail interchange in 2002.
Several other options have been explored since then, including cutting the rail line at Wickham and also at Broadmeadow station where the northern line splits from the inner-city line.
Former state Labor minister Jodi McKay was under pressure from Fix Our City advocates to cut the passenger line to the city to open it for future investors.
The GPT Group blamed the state Labor government’s inaction over the rail line as the main reason for withdrawing its $600million Hunter Street Mall development in August last year.
Mr O’Farrell said he was willing to work with development companies to deliver key infrastructure aimed at revitalising Newcastle’s CBD.
‘‘The future of the Newcastle rail line and CBD will be a matter for the Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund,” Mr O’Farrell said in April this year.
The Hunter infrastructure investment board, announced last month, is working on the issue.