MEDIA RELEASE - Aitchison demands answers on rail promises for Maitland

The NSW Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance keeps promising rail upgrades for the Maitland community but has refused to outline the specifics of any projects in the city.

The Baird Government has secretly deferred 170 vital disability, accessibility and safety upgrades to NSW train stations and ferry wharfs amidst a $23 million blowout in its Transport Access Program.

In the Maitland electorate, referred to in the listing as ‘Lower Hunter – Additional Station’ upgrades have been deferred.

Exactly which project from Maitland’s rail transport ‘wish list’ is the Minister referring to?

  • Upgrades to Victoria Street Station

  • New Western Stations to service growing communities in Aberglasslyn, Bolwarra Heights, McKeachie's Run and Farley.

  • A new station to the existing station at Metford to service the growing Chisholm community.

  • A new station to service the New Lower Hunter Hospital

Ms Aitchison yesterday requested information from Minister Constance's office about exactly what the deferred projects were, however no information was forthcoming.

Accessibility upgrades to Victoria Street Station have been promised since the former Minister for Transport the Hon Gladys Berejiklian stood with Former Member for Maitland Robyn Parker and a member of our community in a wheel chair.

In October 2015 a spokesman for Minister Constance said:

"Planning and investigation work has already commenced...investigations are under way, including the installation of new lifts and canopies at the station, which will make catching the train easier for customers in wheelchairs, those who are less mobile, and parents with prams...Planning for upgrades including bike racks, kiss-and-ride facilities and accessibility parking are also underway."

The Baird Government has already cut the city's vital link into Newcastle and now they are deferring essential upgrades of local train stations.

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Disability Services Sophie Cotsis

“A lift or ramp for people with disabilities, ageing or parents with prams is not a luxury upgrade but a necessity.

“For many members in the community, no lift or ramp access means they can’t access public transport at all. It’s unacceptable to be delaying these projects.

“Every commuter deserves to have access to the NSW rail network – but for thousands of people with disabilities, elderly passengers and travelling mums that sadly isn’t the case.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Jenny Aitchison

“It seems the Baird Government’s plan for rail transport in Maitland after their disastrous rail truncation is to keep quiet and hope for the best.”

“I’m calling on Minister Constance to clarify the location of ‘Lower Hunter- Additional Station’ and to update us about the long promised accessibility upgrades to Victoria Street."

"The people of Maitland have the right to know where the government is up to with promised new stations, the upgrade to Victoria Street Station and what other projects have been deferred."

“The residents of Maitland are paying for blowouts of multimillion dollar harbor side wharves while our local community needs are ignored.”

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