THE NSW Government has said it is moving ahead with plans for a new integrated transport model in Newcastle, as consultation gets under way for light rail to revitalise the CBD and connect Wickham to the beach.
Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance visited Newcastle last week to announce key initiatives to progress the transformation of the city:
- The launch of the tender process for Transport for Newcastle, a new model of a locally-based operator to partner with the community to plan and deliver improved transport services, including buses, ferries, light rail and the new Wickham interchange;
- The start of consultation about the design and construction of light rail; and
- The appointment of a Newcastle Coordinator General to work with the community and stakeholders on these major projects.
"The current transport system is not working. As the city grows and light rail gets under way, this is an opportunity to rethink how we deliver transport and create something that will benefit Newcastle and set it up for the future," Mr Constance said.
"The new model is an Australian first and will see a new world class operator take the reins on designing and running an integrated timetable that meets local needs. Fares and minimum service levels will continue to be set by the government.
"As part of the tender process, new operators will need to prove how they'll partner with the community to boost declining patronage and provide transport services that go where and when locals want them.
"The community will be at the heart of this new model, which is why we're calling on locals to tell us what they want from their new integrated transport network so we make sure we get the best people for the job."
Local consultation is also now under way on the design and construction of Newcastle's new light rail system, ahead of the release of a review of environmental factors report in the next few days. Major building work is set to start early next year, with enabling works now under way.
The light rail system will travel from the new interchange at Wickham along the existing rail corridor before moving south into Hunter Street at Worth Place, continuing through the heart of the CBD down Hunter and Scott Streets, and terminating at Pacific Park.
Stops are proposed at the new interchange, Honeysuckle, Civic, Crown Street, Market Street and Pacific Park.
The light rail network will feature fully-accessible, air-conditioned vehicles that can accommodate luggage, prams and surfboards. There will be no need for timetables as services will arrive for customers about every 10 minutes during peak times.
Each vehicle will be able to carry at least 100 customers, providing capacity to move more than 1200 people per hour during weekdays.
Mr Constance said the introduction of a world class transport system will change Newcastle – working hand in hand with UrbanGrowth NSW's initiatives to attract jobs, investment, visitors and activity back to the city.
"Local feedback will be absolutely critical to shaping the new transport model and guide how light rail is built to minimise impacts on businesses and the community," Mr Constance said.
"I am pleased to announce the appointment of Anna Zycki as the Newcastle Coordinator General to oversee these transformational projects and work closely with the community and stakeholders over the coming years."