The city of Newcastle is on track to enjoy improved public transport infrastructure following the announcement of a new light rail project.
Minister for Planning Pru Goward and Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian recently confirmed the route for the Newcastle Light Rail, which will encompass both the rail corridor and Hunter Street. Trains will travel east from the new Wickham interchange, along the rail corridor before connecting with Hunter and Scott Streets. The service terminates at Pacific Park.
The route, in which Urban Growth NSW had a large role in developing, recognises the importance of both utilising the existing rail corridor while also limiting impact on Hunter Street Mall. According to Ms Goward, the desire of residents and businesses to retain more public domain was also a key consideration.
“By removing the barrier of the heavy rail line, and opening up significant areas of the rail corridor for public use, the city centre can be re-united,” she explained.
“The NSW government is investing in Newcastle to support the next phase of the city’s growth, following the successful lease of the Port of Newcastle. This project will support future urban renewal as part of the revitalisation of the city.”
Bryan Nye, CEO of the Australasian Railway Association, welcomed the project – especially given the federal budget’s limited funding for rail and notable international cases of light rail success.
“Light rail is the ideal way to revitalise Newcastle, with proven examples of this occurring all over the world,” he commented.
“Over the last 30 years, the Docklands Light Rail Project has transformed East London from a region of high unemployment, disconnected from London with low levels of development to a major business and residential centre with a population that has almost doubled. Light rail has the ability to deliver similar benefits for Newcastle.”
With project timelines soon to be announced and other considerations such as rail asset management likely to be under review, the Newcastle public will want to keep an eye on proceedings moving forward.