Liverpool Plains Shire Council (LPSC) has welcomed an announcement from Tamworth MP, Kevin Anderson that he and the Government are going to start looking at a daily return service from Tamworth and the the Liverpool Plains to Newcastle.
According to LPSC Deputy Mayor, Councillor Doug Hawkins, Council has been pushing for a daily return Tamworth/Liverpool Plains – Newcastle service for a number of years and he believes the establishment of such a service would be a great legacy from Mr Anderson’s political career if he can drive the proposal to a succesful conclusion.
“Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, is correct when she points out the importance of a strong link from the region to Newcastle and as she points out there are a lot of trains to and from Sydney to Newcastle. Connection with these trains would open up further options for travellers from our region .
“People from our part of the world often have to attend medical appointments in Newcastle, a day return service would allow families a day at the beach, it would improve transport options for students and in the return direction it would support tourism potential in our part of the world,” Councillor Hawkins said.
“It is encouraging to hear Deputy Premier John Barilaro say ‘we want to see more people on rail’ and that new trains to be rolled out from 2020, will mean ‘greater flexibility’ in terms of timetabling. However, I’d like to think we can see a day return Tamworth/Liverpool Plains – Newcastle service somewhat sooner than 2020,” he said.
“There is far too much inequity currently surrounding rail travel to regional/rural areas. For example Scone residents can get to Sydney and back for well under $20, while less than 80 kilometres to the north residents of Liverpool Plains Shire pay a minimum of $100 and as much as $140+ for a ticket. Add to that the fact that if you utilise the current Explorer service you must arrange to have two nights accomodation in Sydney, or one night in Newcastle because of the way the train is timetabled.
“Sadly, the current service fails dismally in so many ways as a public transport service, it is costly, badly timetabled and for most people, a last resort when public transport needs to be a real option,” he continued.
Councillor Hawkins said he was encouraged by the findings of a Northern Daily Leader online poll showing support for more regular access to Newcastle.
“Improved links to Newcastle can also open up options for better links to the regular Newcastle – Sydney electric interurban services which in turn offer a much more affordable fare structure. It can also reduce the requirement of two nights accomodation in Sydney to one night which in itself would save people a lot of money,” he said.
“Recent years have seen a massive injection of State funds into the Sydney Rail Network and this Government also introduced the day return Bathurst – Sydney service. Compared to these investments the extension of a train that currently commences and terminates at Scone to the Liverpool Plains/Tamworth area would be minimal in real terms but of huge value to the regions residents,” he continued.
“LPSC looks forward to working co-operatively with Mr Anderson as he starts working out ‘some options for the community’ regarding train services,” Councillor Hawkins concluded.