News First Canberra light rail vehicle arrives The first vehicle for the ACT light rail network arrived in Canberra under police escort at 2am on Wednesday 14 December 2017 following an overnight road journey from Port Kembla to the ACT light rail maintenance facility in suburban Mitchell. Built in Spain by CAF (Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles), the light rail vehicle (LRV) travelled from Spain to Australia aboard the 68,000 tonne vehicle carrier Hoegh Berlin. The December arrival is the first of 14 LRVs to be used on the Capital metro network. Each vehicle is 33 metres long with a capacity for 207 passengers – 66 seated and 141 standing. Storage space for four bikes is also provided. Australian Capital Territory Media was on hand to record the arrival, with video shared on the Transport Canberra website. However, soon after arrival the vehicle was vandalised in a graffiti attack, which Canberra Metro chief executive Glenn Stockton described as disappointing. “Of greater concern is that members of the community have accessed a live construction site, which puts them and others at risk,” he said. The graffiti was removed on Thursday 15 December at “modest cost” to Canberra Metro. As a result of the vandal attack additional security has been installed at the Mitchell facility including CCTV cameras and double fencing. One of the new light rail vehicles manufactured by CAF seen on a transporter at Marulan enroute to Canberra on the evening of Tuesday 12 December 2017. Russell Bryant News New South Wales NSW Draft Freight and Ports Plan released The NSW Government is seeking industry feedback on a draft plan that identifies key freight priorities to deliver a more efficient freight system across NSW. The NSW Draft Freight and Ports Plan contains actions and future directions by Government and industry to move goods in an efficient, safe and environmentally sustainable manner. The plan identifies six priority areas; • Strengthening freight industry and government partnerships, • Increase access for freight across the road and rail network, • Protect existing freight precincts and ensure sufficient future land use, • Facilitate introduction of technologies that reduce freight costs and impacts, • Reduce the regulatory burden on industry; and • Ensure safe, efficient and sustainable freight access to places. NSW Roads, Maritime and Freight Minister Melinda Pavey said the freight industry plays a vital role in the movement of $200 billion a year in goods across the state. “Our major commercial ports at Port Botany, Port Kembla and Newcastle are managing increasing volumes of imported and exported goods, requiring faster, more efficient road and rail access with our Sydney and regional NSW markets”. The percentage of container freight moved by rail has increased from 14 per cent to 21 per cent. “We need a strong plan to ensure that our farmers, miners and industries can respond to all opportunities, delivering successful outcomes for the NSW economy and local communities”, Mrs Pavey said. The draft Plan has been released to encourage feedback from industry, local government and members of the community to develop the Final Plan. The Plan, when finalised, will guide future developments for the freight sector, acknowledging the opportunities and challenges as a result of issues such as technology advancements and increased urbanisation. The Final Plan will outline the NSW Government’s priorities and actions, and will include firm targets and key performance measures developed in consultation with the community. The Plan is available at future.transport.nsw.gov.au Feedback and formal submissions are encouraged until 25 March. 8 RAILWAY DIGEST
New South Wales News Newcastle Council approves rail corridor rezoning On Tuesday 12 December Newcastle City Council approved the rezoning of the city’s former heavy rail corridor despite strong objections from Greens councillor John Mackenzie, who said there was no evidence the land would not be required for future transport needs. The decision paves the way for a mix of open space, university buildings and residential and commercial development on the 1.53 kilometre strip of land between Worth Place (located approximately 300 metres west of the former Civic station) and the Newcastle station site. Cr Mackenzie was the only councillor to vote against the plan and the only councillor to speak on the issue other than Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, who moved the motion to support the rezoning. Cr Mackenzie said after the meeting that he accepted the decision of the council, the issue had been “divisive in the community for far too long” and it was time for a “truce”. “It is critical from this point that we move forward collaboratively to make this decision deliver genuine revitalisation outcomes, in terms of university expansion, social housing and open space”, Cr Mackenzie said. However, during the meeting he was critical of a report from council staff on the rezoning, saying it was open to accusations of bias and left the council’s decision open to legal challenge. The report said that 394 public submissions and 137 form letters had objected to the rezoning, while 226 submissions and 46 form letters had been in favour of it. Cr Mackenzie said the report had “miscategorised” the 137 submissions as form letters, and he took exception to a section of the report that said those in favour “expressed excitement about the development of the university precinct”. “We need objective, formal information, not speculation on people’s emotional state,” he said, noting there was “no corresponding speculation” on the emotions of those against the proposal. Cr Nelmes cited the results of a council-commissioned survey of 955 residents by ReachTEL, which she said showed almost 60 per cent of people supported the rezoning while 34.7 per cent wanted the land retained as a transport corridor. Cr Mackenzie rejected the survey’s methodology and results, describing it as “push polling”, a marketing technique designed to sway opinion under the guise of a survey. Cr Nelmes praised the council for securing concessions from the state government during the rezoning process, including an extra $150 million for public domain, a more sophisticated light-rail design, affordable housing and an integrated transport plan. She said the council had lobbied forcefully on urban transformation, and that work was producing significant economic development. The rezoning clears the way for the NSW Department of Planning & Environment’s final approval to change the land use along the former rail corridor to: • Education between Worth Place and Civic, • Mixed use, including affordable housing, between Civic Station and Merewether Street, • Public recreation at Civic and from Perkins Street to Newcomen Street, • A mix of dwellings, retail, commercial and public recreation from Merewether Street to Brown Street; and • A tourism zone at Newcastle Railway Station. SSR’s empty grain train 4343, with Clyde/EMD unit C510 leading BRM001, C506, G513 and a rake of BGKF/BGVF converted grain hoppers, charges through Awaba station on Thursday 28 December 2017, bound for loading at The Rock in southern NSW, returning to Newcastle two days later as Train 3444. Matthew Proctor FEBRUARY 2018 9
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