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Customer Outcome 4: Supporting centres with appropriate transport services and infrastructure

Greater Newcastle Future Transport Plan

Customer Outcome 4: Supporting centres with appropriate transport services and infrastructure

Greater Newcastle serves a diverse range of places which requires a scalable transport network response

Greater Newcastle’s importance will significantly increase over the next four decades as a Global Gateway City. This is due to its:

  • Catchment of over 1 million people
  • Access to international markets through the port and airport, strong health and education precincts, world class sporting facilities and economic development opportunities such as tourism, growth of specialised manufacturing and small-medium enterprises, defence facilities and a growing knowledge industry base
  • Urban renewal opportunities with transformative light rail and frequent public transport connections
  • Its liveability, including opportunities for more sustainable travel behaviour.

Transport has an important part to play in supporting Greater Newcastle as a Global Gateway City to ensure its success and competitiveness into the future.

With its port, New Cruise Terminal and Airport, Greater Newcastle will increasingly become the primary city-serving regional catchments beyond the Hunter to the north, north-west and west. Investments in infrastructure such as the Hunter Expressway, Pacific Highway, New England Highway and Golden Highway will facilitate safer and more efficient connections for passenger and freight movements from Tamworth, Armidale, Dubbo, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.

Improving transport connections to/from and within Greater Newcastle will be critical to realising its potential as Australia’s newest and emerging economic and lifestyle city, connected with northern NSW and acknowledged globally, as envisioned in the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan 2036.


Cardiff-Glendale Emerging Strategic Centre

The Hunter Regional Plan 2036 identifies Cardiff-Glendale as an emerging strategic centre and outlines an urban renewal corridor between Cardiff and Glendale.

Additionally, the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan 2036 identifies the North West Lake Macquarie area as a catalyst area. Actions identified within the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan 2036 for the various precincts of the North West Lake Macquarie area are to improve transport connectivity between employment and retail precincts, explore opportunities for better pedestrian and cycle connectivity to Cockle Creek station and to the Glendale Retail and Sport Precinct.

The NSW Government has allocated $1.7 million towards the development of a Strategic Business Case to identify transport initiatives which address the precincts’ future needs and complement its growth and renewal, including a potential Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange.

Transport for NSW has established a working group to support work on the Strategic Business Case in collaboration with RMS, DPE and Lake Macquarie City Council. This new collaborative approach has focussed on all stakeholders having a shared vision for the transport and land use future of this emerging strategic centre and important catalyst area.

The working group has engaged in a process to define the problem using the movement and place framework which focuses on customer outcomes. The working group have agreed in principle to a problem definition and a set of transport options to be considered in the Strategic Business Case. This includes a range of potential road, public and active transport opportunities, as well as considering the proposed Pennant Street bridge, to achieve the best outcomes.

We expect the Strategic Business Case to be finalised in mid-2018. It will recommend options to be prioritised based on the agreed objectives and value for money.


Connections within Greater Newcastle

As discussed earlier, the Hunter Regional Plan 2036 includes a vision to have 95 percent of residents living within 30 minutes of a strategic centre. The network hierarchy presented in Chapter 2 identifies the connections needed to support access between Greater Newcastle’s strategic centres. Future transport services and infrastructure will respond to this hierarchy to support access. Improvements to public transport routes and service frequencies will result in expanded public transport catchments.

As most trips within Greater Newcastle are for discretionary purposes, such as shopping, social and recreational trips, people can often choose the time they travel. These trips also tend to be shorter in length making them suitable for walking or cycling.

Walking and cycling provides a number of benefits for both people and places. Around the world, people’s health is negatively impacted by congestion and sedentary lifestyles. Walking and cycling for short, local trips helps to prevent the onset of chronic illnesses, reduces road congestion and lowers carbon emissions and air pollutants.

Places that have corridors where walking and cycling connects people to green spaces, shops, services, schools and entertainment are also attractive places. This is important for the wellbeing of the community and to attract skilled workers that facilitate globally competitive businesses and cities.

Newcastle ‘On Your Bike’ Campaign

From 2016 to 2018 the NSW Government’s cycling program has provided matched funding to Newcastle City Council to deliver a campaign to get Newcastle riding more than ever. The campaign has included popular bike workshops, a website, maps, guides, rides, social media and billboards to help Novocastrians find their path.

The campaign has sparked growth in the already large number of people who ride to get to places around Newcastle and has encouraged more people to get riding.

The Levee

The Levee in Maitland is one of the best examples of mixed traffic shopping streets in Australia. In this environment, priority is given to people walking, with cars travelling slowly on the same cobblestone street as passing shoppers on foot.

The street has awnings and trees for shade and planter boxes, benches and bike parking to create walking thoroughfares away from the moving traffic without the need for line marking. Events and installations such as markets and opportunities for photos with Santa continue to make The Levee an exciting space.

Recent streetscape improvements to The Levee were completed at a cost of $9.92 million and funded through the NSW Government’s Restart NSW Resources for Regions program.

We are also investing in road projects to support connections within Greater Newcastle. RMS are currently developing Road Network Strategies with local councils to identify road improvements in the local government areas. We are investing in a number of roads such as the Newcastle Inner City Bypass – Rankin Park to Jesmond, Cormorant Road – Industrial Drive to Stockton Bridge and Nelson Bay Road – Fern Bay to Williamtown. We will look at travel demand management policies and tools to manage congestion and support improvements to travel time reliability.


Connections to surrounding Hunter region

The Hunter Regional Plan 2036 identified Newcastle city centre as the capital of the Hunter region. People and businesses across the Hunter rely on Greater Newcastle and the services, infrastructure and opportunities available there. Conversely, there is demand for travel from Greater Newcastle to the Hunter region. For example, over 8,000 people travel from Greater Newcastle to work locations around the Hunter (based on 2011 ABS Census Journey to Work data, see Figure 39). We need to support this relationship by providing adequate transport connections.

The Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan identified a new way of providing transport services in regional NSW. This is a hub and spoke network model that focuses on providing connections radiating out from regional cities and centres, rather than focusing on providing connections to Sydney. The network will comprise of a range of modes to reflect the level of demand and distance travelled.

The Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan also includes a number of initiatives for investigation to support access to Greater Newcastle from around the Hunter region. These include road improvements to the New England Highway and the Golden Highway as well as investigating a Dubbo to Newcastle rail connection.


Connections to Greater Sydney

A key part of a successful Global Gateway City is its connections to other major cities. The demand for travel between Sydney and Greater Newcastle will continue to grow. This is shown in Figure 20 and Figure 25. With recent significant investment in road infrastructure on these corridors, alternate public transport links such as rail have significant room for improvement in journey times to become competitive with car and air travel.

Emerging technologies for land based long distance travel are rapidly evolving. However, tested and proven methods of transport remain some time off and the previously federally investigated (2012) mode of high speed rail (HSR) is not deemed to be feasible in the Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan for implementation until the 20+ year timeframe.

Whilst the operation of emerging technologies are likely to be some way off, opportunities for faster and higher speed rail will be considered as part of investigations within the 0-10 year timeframe, and more detailed investigations into corridor preservation based upon the most constrained design criteria (HSR) should be investigated within the 10-20 year timeframe.

In the next decade it is recommended that Faster Rail corridor infrastructure investment programs be focused on Satellite and Global Gateway Cities to achieve significant travel time savings.

For the Global Gateway City of Greater Newcastle, the travel time aspiration is two hours to Sydney. The Australian Government has recently announced that it will provide matching funding for the development of a strategic business case for Faster Rail in the Sydney to Newcastle corridor. These investments will be required independently of the introduction of higher speed connections which would appeal to different rail travel markets (i.e. less or no stops and potentially higher fares) and deliver benefits to both passenger and freight flows.

Faster rail improvements as well as the New Intercity Fleet will also mean better connections between the Central Coast and Greater Newcastle.

Access to the trade gateways of Newcastle port from inland NSW will continue to be important for the next 40 years with the movement of coal dominating the rail transport task.

Connections to surrounding regions

Greater Newcastle’s role as a Global Gateway City is reflective of the relationship that currently exists and will continue to exist between Greater Newcastle and surrounding regions.

The patronage data for NSW TrainLink rail services discussed in Chapter 1: Introduction shows the strong existing public transport connection that Greater Newcastle has with the North Coast and New England North West regions. However, this data only reflects the existing public transport network. Improvements to data collection across regional NSW, proposed as part of the Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan, will enable a greater understanding of where people travel will support the implementation of the hub and spoke model to provide better transport connections across regional NSW.

We are also investing in a new regional rail fleet to deliver better levels of comfort and service for regional rail customers. Improvements to the regional rail fleet will benefit people travelling to and from Greater Newcastle. There are opportunities to consider new servicing patterns for regional cities and centres to support day return travel and increased accessibility for customers across regional NSW.

Improvements to transport within Greater Newcastle will ensure people travelling from outside the region will be able to connect to the places they need to go easily and efficiently.

Additionally, we are working on rolling out integrated ticketing across regional NSW. This will mean people travelling into Greater Newcastle from outside the area will not have to purchase different tickets.
The growth of Newcastle Airport, supported by funding from the Regional Airports Program, and investigation into higher speed connections will mean faster journeys for people travelling long distances.


New Regional Rail Fleet

The entire regional rail fleet will be replaced to deliver unprecedented levels of comfort and service for regional rail customers. This includes 60 XPT passenger cars (plus 19 diesel locomotives), 23 XPLORER and 28 Endeavour passenger cars for services between Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and major NSW regional centres.

An Expression of Interest was issued in August 2017 for the design, construction and maintenance of the new trains and a new maintenance facility at the preferred site in Dubbo (subject to planning approval). In December 2017 a Request for Proposal was issued to three proponents, and is due to close June 2018. A detailed review of proposals will follow before the contract is awarded. The new trains will come into service progressively, with the first trains anticipated to be delivered in the early 2020s.

Dubbo has been identified as the preferred location for the brand new regional maintenance facility, subject to planning approval.

The key benefits from the introduction of the new Regional Rail Fleet are:

  • Safe, reliable, comfortable and accessible regional trains
  • Ability to leverage innovative technologies for customers and fleet operations
  • A more reliable service for customers travelling long distances
  • Opportunities for new servicing patterns for regional cities and centres, including day return travel to support the hub and spoke model
  • Stimulation of the regional economy and provision of long term, sustainable jobs including traineeships and apprenticeships with the maintenance of these new trains in regional NSW.

Trials of day-return public transport options between regional hubs

NSW TrainLink has recently commenced trials of new coach connections to better connect regional communities and provide day return services:

  • Tamworth to Newcastle
  • Tamworth to Dubbo
  • Tamworth to Port Macquarie

Before these trials there were no direct services between Tamworth and Dubbo and between Tamworth and Port Macquarie. The services from Tamworth to Newcastle did not provide a day return option.

Each trial aims to provide easy connections between regional hubs for better access to medical and health providers, business, shopping, recreational activities or to catch up with family and friends.

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