Cabinet still to decide rail fate

STATE cabinet has not yet decided on the fate of the Newcastle rail line, the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Brad Hazzard says.

"The government continues to consider the issues and listen to all sides of the debate," Mr Hazzard said yesterday.

The Newcastle Herald has reported previously about government deliberations on a proposal to remove the rail line to Wickham. A decision is tipped before the end of the year.

"The former Labor government stood by and watched the deterioration of the Newcastle CBD," Mr Hazzard said.

"The Coalition government has Newcastle on its radar and is determined to make sure Newcastle CBD is revitalised - but the government must get the decision right.

"We have only been in government for 18 months and we are already further advanced in the planning of Newcastle CBD than Labor ever was.

"It will take some time to address the issues, but we will listen to the community."

Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy said yesterday the condition of Hunter Street was "an embarrassment to the people of Newcastle and the Hunter".

"If this decision is not made, the commercial activities of Hunter Street will remain the same for the next 25 years."

The removal of the line as part of a broader revitalisation strategy is favoured by most of the Hunter's Liberal MPs including Newcastle MP Tim Owen, Charlestown's Andrew Cornwell, Port Stephens MP Craig Baumann and Swansea's Garry Edwards.

They have the backing of Minister for the Hunter Mike Gallacher.

But Maitland MP Robyn Parker, and to a lesser extent Upper Hunter MP George Souris, are opposed to the plan on the grounds it would reduce transport services for their electorates.

GETTING: A decision on the rail line is tipped before the end of the year.

GETTING: A decision on the rail line is tipped before the end of the year.