DESPITE its obvious limitations, Cardiff railway station has managed to become one of the best-used stations in the Newcastle area.
This may be partly because it is relatively close to the John Hunter Hospital. Many also use the station as a convenient location for park-and-ride trips to Sydney. For years, governments have been promising to upgrade the station in recognition of its popularity and high use, and work actually started under the previous Labor administration.
Labor’s defeat, however, coincided with a worrying slowdown and some community members suspected that Sydney bureaucrats might have been trying to use the change of government as an opportunity to redirect the project funds to the capital.
This speculation has been put to rest, with the announcement that the work will proceed and that the budget for the job has grown from $6.5million to $14million.
That seems a hefty bill, but Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell says the cost is justified by the complexity of the project – a complexity he has accused Labor of failing to comprehend.
Politicking aside, the important point is that some of the station’s most serious limitations will finally be addressed.
The too-short platform will be extended to accommodate eight-car trains, and the long-awaited lifts and better stairways will make the station accessible for the elderly and those with disabilities.
The other issue that requires attention is parking. Some regular commuters reportedly prefer to use more distant Fassifern, simply because that station has better parking available. Mr Cornwell should keep this in mind in his discussions with Railcorp. It may be possible to acquire some run-down properties not far from the station that could be converted to parking.
Many have noted that, while the Cardiff upgrade is very welcome, other rail projects need attention too. Chief, of course, is the Glendale bus-rail interchange. Indeed, this project – if properly accompanied by the ample parking that ought to be available at that location – might well take much of the park-and-ride business from both Cardiff and Fassifern.
Mr Cornwell is evidently pushing hard for progress on Glendale. His constituents, and many residents of other Hunter electorates, will be hoping his efforts bear fruit soon.
THE Hunter’s wine industry has endured many hardships over the years, including some created by the incursion of large corporate interests.
Some operators fear that a new round of pressures from corporate consolidation could subject the industry to a debilitating shake-up.
Global economics being what they are, it is hard to see how the trend to dominance by fewer and bigger concerns can be arrested.
Quality has always been the key to success for Hunter wines. That quality is as good as ever, which ought to be a reassuring fact in troubling times.