Community key in region's transport future

SAVE Our Rail may hold workshops in Lake Macquarie and Newcastle to plan for the region’s transport future, a spokeswoman said yesterday.

Maitland mayor and Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund chairman Peter Blackmore addressed about 50 people at the Maitland Polish Hall, sharing his perspective on the state of the region’s transport infrastructure.

Organisers said the workshop spanned numerous issues including a multi-level car park for Maitland station and a Thornton to Morisset freight rail bypass.

Save Our Rail vice-president Kim Cross said more workshops could follow the Maitland meeting, giving residents a chance to take stock of their area’s shortcomings.

‘‘We plan to get feedback from the community [because] we feel as if there has been a real lack of that,’’ Ms Cross said.

Cr Blackmore fielded a number of questions from yesterday’s group in a discussion of the transport infrastructure limitations posed by Maitland’s rapid growth.

The rail line’s future factored into the debate’s broader focus on how the Hunter would handle the transport challenges posed by a swelling population.

Cr Blackmore said there had also been discussion making Newcastle more attractive.

He applauded Save Our Rail for its broad perspective on improving the Hunter’s infrastructure.

‘‘These people realise there has to be change and we must keep proceeding,’’ Cr Blackmore said.

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