THE removal of the city’s heavy rail will spell big changes for rail workers as well as passengers, prompting criticism from their union about a lack of consultation as the government pushes ahead with its plans.
It comes as opponents of the rail’s truncation met on Monday to devise protest tactics.
Rail staff based at Wickham, Civic and Newcastle will relocate to Broadmeadow or to Hamilton station, where demountable buildings have been brought in to house them for at least two years while the new interchange at Wickham is completed.
But as many as hundreds of workers would be effected in some way given the number of staff, from train crew to cleaners and security, who begin or finish work at the three stations, according to the Rail, Tram and Bus Union.
A Transport for NSW spokesman said there was ‘‘no plan to make any NSW TrainLink staff redundant due to the truncation’’.
Customer service staff moved to Hamilton would be on hand to help passengers with trains and interim bus services once work began.
“NSW TrainLink has been consulting with staff and their unions about the new working arrangements,’’ the spokesman said.
But union Newcastle organiser Steve Wright said getting information, including details of arrangements for the start of works on Boxing Day, out of the government had been like pulling teeth.
‘‘We’re not being told anything,’’ he said.
The Transport spokesman said overhead wiring would be removed as soon as possible to make way for new pedestrian crossings and to reduce the potential for theft of copper wiring and vandalism.
Work at Wickham and new stabling areas at Hamilton would get underway.
‘‘The scope of work further along the line is still being finalised as we prepare for construction of light rail in Newcastle,’’ he said.
Protesters are expected to try to disrupt the works, which will be carried out by the Novo Rail alliance.
In Newcastle on Monday, residents and community groups met with Greens MPs to formulate a strategy for protesting in the lead up to December 26.
Greens transport spokeswoman Mehreen Faruqi said about 70 people attended to discuss options including seeking advice for possible legal action, and measures for ‘‘non-violent direct action’’.
‘‘There are a lot of people who feel passionately about this and want to protest against the Baird government’s plans, of course within the parameters of doing it peacefully,’’ Dr Faruqi said.
The Newcastle Trades Hall has not ruled out lodging an industrial dispute about safety arrangements for rail workers.
A rally will be held on December 14 against the removal of the rail.
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