The future of the publicly owned rail network across NSW hangs in the balance today as the NSW government’s appeal against Save Our Rail’s historic Newcastle rail court victory commences.
If the government succeeds in its arguments that the statutory protection that covers all publicly owned rail lines in NSW does not apply to Newcastle, then this opens the way to the wholesale privatisation of rail lines across NSW.
Greens MP and Hunter Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“This court case is important not just for the future of Newcastle, but for the future of the entire public rail network in NSW.
“Save our Rail are a shining example of the public spirit of Newcastle, taking the struggle to protect the state’s rail line all the way to the Court of Appeal.
“Having won the case at first instance, Save our Rail are now protecting the public rail network from the appeal by the NSW government and their developer mates.
“The Hunter needs a quick restoration of the rail line into the heart of Newcastle, every day the line remains cut businesses and communities are suffering,” Mr Shoebridge said.
Greens MP and Transport spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi said:
“If the government can sidestep parliament on the removal of the Newcastle line, every publicly owned rail line in NSW is up for grabs.
“We can already see the Liberals’ privatisation agenda being rolled out in Sydney with the planned handing over of the Chatswood-Epping and Bankstown lines to private operation as part of the Sydney Metro plan.
“The removal of Newcastle rail services since Boxing Day has hurt public transport patronage enormously. Congestion and parking are getting worse in the Newcastle CBD as people get back into their cars.
“Rail lines across NSW should be kept in public hands, for the public benefit. The Newcastle rail line must be reinstated as a matter of urgency,” Dr Faruqi said.
- The NSW government cut the Newcastle rail line on 24 December 2015.
- The relevant statutory protection is s99A of the Transport Administration Act 1988:
99A Closure and disposal of railway lines
(1) A rail infrastructure owner must not, unless authorised by an Act of Parliament, close a railway line.
(2) For the purposes of this section, a railway line is closed if the land concerned is sold or otherwise disposed of or the railway tracks and other works concerned are removed.
- On 24 December 2014 Save our Rail won their case in the NSW Supreme Court preventing the NSW government from tearing up the rail infrastructure in Newcastle. You can read the case here.