MORE young people are wandering through Newcastle’s poorly lit back streets in the early hours of the morning to get home from late night venues since truncation related works on the rail line began on Boxing Day.
On December 26, Railway Street at Wickham, on which the popular live music venue the Lass O’Gowrie Hotel is located, was cut in two severing a brightly lit thoroughfare for pedestrians between the two sides of the city.
Security guards now man the fenced work-site on the rail line around the clock to ensure anyone who attempts the crossing on foot does not succeed. However, no well-lit alternative route for foot traffic has been provided.
Hotel licensee Ian Lobb said the situation was dangerous and told Transport for NSW about his concerns four weeks ago.
‘‘I have a duty of care to get them home safely,’’ Mr Lobb said.
‘‘[Prior to truncation] There was lighting all the way from the Lass to Hunter Street.
On Saturday night the Newcastle Herald saw several patrons from the hotel attempt to cross the closed rail crossing on foot. They were turned away.
Presumably they then would have taken one of two routes to Hunter Street.
The quickest foot-route since truncation is east down Station Street alongside the rail line to Stewart Avenue, then southward to Hunter Street. The other route is north along Railway Street, turning west along Albert Street and across Wickham Park to Maitland Road, which becomes Hunter Street.
‘‘It’s very dark, there are no lights,’’ Mr Lobb said.
‘‘I was watching the young girls walking home on their own.’’
On Monday the Herald contacted Transport for NSW and was told it would ‘‘work with the owner of the Lass O’Gowrie to look at solutions for patrons, including the potential for improved lighting.’’
After the Herald’s inquiry, Transport for NSW then contacted Mr Lobb and a meeting with engineers is expected to be held at 11am on Tuesday to discuss potential solutions, which could include lighting up Station Street.
State member for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp said the closure of the Railway Street level-crossing posed a serious health and safety issue for young people leaving late night venues.
He said it should have been considered before truncation commenced.
‘‘Wickham has an enormous amount of young people living in it. It’s very problematic,’’ he said.
‘‘They like to walk from venue to venue.
‘‘There are very dark uninhabited areas where people can potentially be mugged.’’
He said the issue was reflective of the entire truncation process.
‘‘These issues have not been thought through,’’ he said.
‘‘They are working in reverse to patch up solutions.’’
Transport NSW said security guards were in place to make sure nobody entered the rail corridor.
A fully accessible pedestrian bridge over the rail corridor near Railway Street is expected to be constructed as part of the Wickham Transport Interchange.