FROM THE EDITOR
The time has well and truly passed for Newcastle to get over its fixation with the removal of the heavy rail line from Wickham and work together to help Newcastle become a modern, prosperous city that we can all be proud of.
As we all know, the process has begun and it is happening.
Whilst heavy rail can be a very efficient means of transport, the geographic nature of inner Newcastle as a peninsula and the fact that there is no through traffic means that it is not the ideal solution in this case. The heavy rail line is a major barrier to unifying the city, opening the southern side to the harbour and helping to attract additional investment and prosperity to Australia’s sixth largest city.
I know this has become a very emotive topic and there will be a significant number of HBR readers that don’t agree with the line removal. I would encourage everyone to take the discussion away from the emotive level and onto a factual basis.
As I see it, some of the arguments against the lines removal don’t really hold water.
Firstly, the number of passengers was not high. Most of us remember being stuck for several minutes at the Wickham level crossing for a train with only a handful of passengers.
The historic nature of the line should not be forgotten, but change must happen for us to move forward. If humans had not embraced change we would all be still living in caves.
The fact that developers may make money out of the lines removal is put up as a negative by a number of people when it is a major positive. We all know that the Newcastle CBD needs investment, and the plain fact is that it is not going to happen unless there is a financial incentive for developers to invest large sums of money in projects.
The argument that it will make access to Newcastle more difficult, particularly for the less mobile, could be true for those whose destination is next to a train station. For many others, the greater number of stops offered by light rail means that they will have less distance to walk to their destination.
One of the problems with the rail line debate is that many of us don’t like change and prefer the comfort of the status quo. Human nature often dictates that many focus on the negative aspects of a change rather than the positives.
But for the future of Newcastle and future prosperity of its citizens we do need to move ahead and unite to make this city reach its full potential.
I truly believe that when the rail line is removed, the light rail installed and the investment dollars roll in that the vast majority of Hunter people will wonder why it didn’t happen years earlier.