THE Berejiklian government will put the Hunter’s rail history at risk if it moves assets from the Broadmeadow Locomotive Depot to Sydney, Tim Crakanthorp has warned.
The Newcastle MP was speaking after fire tore through the Richmond Vale Railway Museum last week, causing an estimated $1 million worth of damage to many of the Lower Hunter’s rail assets that hold historical industrial significance.
Mr Crakanthorp said it was now “more important than ever” to safeguard the region’s rail assets, with a cloud continuing to hang over the Broadmeadow depot after much of the land was declared “surplus to operations” last year, stoking Labor fears that large chunks of the 18-hectare site could be sold off. The MP said he believed the government was secretly planning to move Broadmeadow’s rolling stock to Chullora, in Sydney’s western suburbs.
Under questioning from Labor heritage spokeswoman Penny Sharpe in budget estimates earlier this month, Transport Minister Andrew Constance repeatedly refused to rule out the move, saying only that the government was doing “everything we can” to protect the rail assets and accusing Labor of “letting them rot”.
NSW TrainLink chief executive Howard Collins admitted that the trains were “deteriorating very quickly” but they couldn’t fit inside the depot’s roundhouse.
“The physical problem is that there is very little space to accommodate what are probably 70-, 80-, or 60-foot long pieces of heritage infrastructure and we cannot squeeze anymore into the existing covered round house,” he said.
“The trains and carriages that are left out in the open are deteriorating very quickly and as a heritage member I am absolutely committed to ensure that we get these things under cover from the sun and the rain and everything else that is causing them damage.”
Mr Crakanthorp called on the government to restore the Broadmeadow depot.
“We need to keep Newcastle’s history in Newcastle,” he said. “Why does this Government insist on sending Newcastle jobs and assets to Sydney?”