Labor vows to keep rail and revive Newcastle CBD

PROMISES: Opposition Leader John Robertson says Labor will retain the heavy rail but still revitalise the Newcastle CBD if elected next March.The NSW opposition says Newcastle City Council’s aim to increase public transport use by 400 per cent is only achievable if the government keeps the rail line open between Wickham and Newcastle beyond Boxing Day.

Opposition Leader John Robertson said yesterday that Labor would revitalise Newcastle CBD and retain the existing rail line.

“Newcastle council’s goal to get more ­people out of their cars and onto public transport is the right move, but unfortunately the Liberals’ plan to rip up the rail line will have the opposite effect,” he said.

“Instead, the Liberals want to waste $340 million to rip up the line at Wickham.

“This will make travelling into the city more difficult and create a substantial ­disincentive to catch public transport in the first place.”

Labor has committed $750 million, half the net proceeds from the Port of Newcastle lease, to infrastructure in Newcastle and the greater Hunter.

Labor candidate for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp said Newcastle council’s Draft Transport Strategy, which included the 400 per cent target, contained good recommendations to reduce traffic congestion in the city.

“However, the best place to start is to ­immediately stop the plans to remove the existing public transport link that goes right into the city centre,” he said.

“Other cities would give anything to have this infrastructure.”

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