IT has taken two decades and a passing parade of state transport ministers but work will begin this week on a $14 million upgrade of Cardiff railway station.
The project, a major milestone for transport infrastructure in the south-western Lake Macquarie growth corridor, is expected to attract more people to public transport.
The upgrade includes the installation of lifts linking the platform area to car parks and the extension of the platforms to accommodate eight-car trains.
New access ramps, station building and security surveillance will also be built.
The former Labor government announced the project in 2010 at a cost of $6.5 million and promised it would be complete by late 2012.
The project is now expected to be finished in late 2013.
Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell said the significant difference in cost was the result of poor costing on the part of the former government.
‘‘It’s a much bigger project than anyone ever expected,’’ he said.
‘‘The former government left us with rough costings that turned out to be extremely rough.’’
Petition after petition calling for the station’s upgrade has been collected since the early 1990s.
Cardiff pensioner Brian Young, 74, spent the best part of the past decade and considerable personal funds campaigning for the project.
‘‘More people use Cardiff station than any other station in Newcastle because they get off to go to the John Hunter Hospital,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s a lot of people who can’t use it at the moment but once they put the lifts in its usage will multiply.’’
The Cardiff upgrade will also complement the planned the Glendale interchange project.
Talks are scheduled to take place next month between Railcorp and the Hunter Development Corporation (HDC) to progress the Glendale interchange project.
‘‘No one has ever gone to the effort of getting it into an organisation like HDC which has the skill sets to develop it rather than letting it sit with Railcorp,’’ Mr Cornwell said. ‘‘Whilst we are still waiting for federal funding there are other jobs we can get on with and one of those is negotiations between Railcorp and HDC.’’