$6.5m for Cardiff rail station upgrade

AFTER an 18-year long community campaign, the State Government has bowed to pressure and agreed to a $6.5 million upgrade of Cardiff railway station to make it easier for passengers.

Work on the station, bound by two steep flights of stairs, would start in early 2011 and include two lifts and an access ramp to the footbridge, which would also be extended.

The NSW cabinet's budget committee is said to have endorsed the spending on Thursday night.

Charlestown MP Matthew Morris and Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery said yesterday the upgrade would support the expansion of the Cardiff business area and be a relief for the many elderly and disabled passengers who used the station, as well as families with prams.

Premier Kristina Keneally is expected to visit the station on Monday.

"The station was already very well patronised, however this work will see a big increase in rail passengers using Cardiff," Mr Morris said.

He said he understood the spending was new money, rather than diverted from a $12 million upgrade earmarked for Broadmeadow railway station.

The Herald has reported the campaign for improvements to the Cardiff station.

More recently, the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce has campaigned for an $8 million upgrade, one of several improvement options for the station RailCorp is understood to have devised.

Chamber president Rob Denton said yesterday he was elated and the money was a tribute to the combined efforts of the community and its political representatives.

"Finally, finally we've got a result," Mr Denton said.

Mr Morris and Ms Hornery also paid tribute to campaigners, including Brian Young, who they said had produced a 10,000-signature petition.

As well as aiding passengers, the spending largely dampens what would have been a hot political issue in the area in the lead up to the 2011 state election.

The Government had argued the upgrade was not needed as the Glendale interchange was in the pipeline.

Government documents tabled to State Parliament last July said Cardiff station had missed out for the next six years on access works.

A recent meeting of Hunter MPs, Transport Minister David Campbell and RailCorp staff was said to have turned fiery when bureaucrats argued against the proposal.

The subject was discussed again at a meeting of Hunter MPs and Ms Keneally's chief of staff last week.

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