SYDNEY trains may be terminated at Broadmeadow rather than Wickham under state government plans to cut the Newcastle rail line.
When Planning Minister Brad Hazzard announced the Wickham terminus plan in December, it was generally assumed that all trains currently running to Newcastle would then end at Wickham.
But speculation about the Sydney service has been triggered by government artwork showing the Wickham interchange as more suited to four-car trains than the eight cars usually used on the Sydney service.
And reports to the government have said the extra rail traffic generated by a Wickham interchange would probably require the permanent closure of the level crossing at Beaumont Street, Hamilton.
The extra rail traffic would come from empty trains, which are presently kept on the Newcastle line, having to go back to Broadmeadow for stabling.
One way to avoid this traffic would be to end the Sydney services at Broadmeadow.
But while this would ease pressure on the Beaumont Street gates it would force Maitland line passengers to catch another train, between Hamilton and Broadmeadow, to reach the Sydney service.
Concerns about such issues led the Newcastle Herald to contact the Premier, Barry O’Farrell, and the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, last week, to ask about rumours that the Sydney trains would terminate at Broadmeadow.
They passed the questions to Planning Minister Brad Hazzard, who sent them to the Hunter Development Corporation.
Corporation chief executive Bob Hawes acknowledged the reports raising concerns about Beaumont Street – and the even closer Railway Street, Wickham, level crossing – but said final decisions would be made once planning for the Wickham terminus was under way.
The same applied to whether the Sydney service would start and finish from Broadmeadow.
‘‘Such matters are operational detail which will be resolved through the scoping study phase in consultation with Transport for NSW,’’ Mr Hawes said.
He said a ‘‘multi-agency steering group’’ would be put together in the coming weeks to implement the decision announced by Mr Hazzard in December.
‘‘I can honestly say I haven’t seen anything to indicate a departure from the starting point of the announcement, which is services terminating at Wickham,’’ Mr Hawes said.
‘‘But that’s a general planning position and from here on in there will be an interesting and complicated matrix of issues to be worked through.
‘‘It’s a bit like the Hunter Highway. An announcement was made and a line drawn on a map but the eventual outcome was somewhat different.”
What the change could mean:
MAITLAND-SYDNEY: Change trains at Hamilton for Broadmeadow, change at Broadmeadow for Sydney.
MAITLAND-NEWCASTLE: Terminate at Wickham.
NEWCASTLE-SYDNEY: Start at Wickham, change at Broadmeadow for Sydney.