In Transport

In New South Wales An Act Of Parliament Is Needed To Close A Railway Line

Victor P Taffa

In regards to cutting back the Newcastle Railway Line this is a matter that would have to be decided by both Houses of the New South Wales (NSW) Parliament followed by Royal Assent.

 

Reason being is that to close an operating Railway Line a vote of the Parliament is required. Although the NSW Government is intending to maintain operations to Wickham at this stage the plan to cut back the line is in fact a permanent closure of part of an operating Railway Line.

If not what is to stop the whole Line being cutback to Broadmeadow in the future without reference to the current law? The NSW Government would be acting illegally if the Newcastle Line was cutback to Wickham without a separate Act of Parliament that allowed for this to occur.

Should the NSW Government cutback the Newcastle Line to Wickham without a separate Act of Parliament a legal challenge would be mounted against the O’Farrell Government that would not succeed and not to mention censure in the Parliament.

While Light Rail uses Railway Tracks it is in no ways a Heavy Rail Service under the strict meaning of a Railway Service. The Newcastle Light Rail Service will not be operated by the NSW Government. To install the Light Rail Line removal of the Heavy Railway Tracks will be necessary to build the Newcastle Light Rail Line. If the old Heavy Rail Tracks are used by the private operators for this new Light Rail service it would have to cease operations as it would be functioning illegally.

When in Opposition then Shadow Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian opposed a change to the law that would have allowed the then NSW Labor Government from selling off many disused Railway corridors around New South Wales. Had Labor’s Rail Trails Bill passed through Parliament the Newcastle Line could now be closed at the stroke of a Ministerial pen.

The proposed cut back to the Newcastle Railway Line will require a vote of both Houses of the NSW Parliament.

Transport Administration Act 1988 NSW

This Act of Parliament has in it a clause that requires a separate Act of Parliament to permanently close down a Railway Line.

Transport Administration Amendment (Rail Trails) Bill 2009

The NSW Labor Government in 2009 sought to abolish the need to have a separate act of Parliament in order to close down a Railway Line. Parliament rejected this Bill.

According to NSWrail.net separate acts of Parliament have been passed to close down a Railway Line in NSW. This includes the following:

  •  Ballina Branch

Closed on 1 June 1948

Ballina to Booyong Railway (Cessation of Operation) Act 1953 No 13

  • Richmond to Kurrajong Line

Closed on 26 July 1952

Richmond to Kurrajong Railway (Cessation of Operation) Act 1954 No 9

  • Morpeth Branch

Closed on 31August 1953

Maitland to Morpeth Railway (Cessation of Operation) Act 1953 No 38

  • Camden Branch

Closed on 1 January 1963

Campbelltown to Camden Tramway and Jerilderie towards Deniliquin Railway Act 1963 No 8

  • Dorrigo Branch

Closed on 9 November 1993

Glenreagh To Dorrigo Railway (Closure) Act 1993

Editor Victor P Taffa in 2009 established a website that supports Railway Expansion in NSW. www.isput.com.au incorporates many of Dr. John Bradfield’s incomplete plans to expand the Sydney Metropolitan Railways. Dr. Bradfield designed and built the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Metropolitan Railways.

Other plans incorporated in www.isput.com.au involve areas that had Railways closed down many decades ago. With modern rolling stock and infrastructure these areas could again serve transport starved communities.

The Richmond to Kurrajong Line was closed in 1952 and yet Editor Victor P Taffa supports the Lower Blue Mountains Line that would extend the Richmond Line to Mount Victoria as a new straight route for High Speed Rail trains and the Indian Pacific from Perth, Western Australia.

Governments that have closed Tramways and Railway Lines sadly do not see the value of these assets and what can be achieved by investing in them.

The history of these long forgotten Railway Line closures and Tramway Closures in Sydney and Newcastle simply shows that all Government’s are wrong by closing these important transport arteries.

The O’Farrell Government must maintain the Newcastle Railway Line to its current terminus and reject all attempts to cutback the line to Wickham. History will show the stupidity to do otherwise.

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