Not to be confused with the Newcastle and Central Coast railway line
The Newcastle railway line is a branch railway line in the city of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. The line branches off the Main North line at Broadmeadow and travels in an easterly direction through the inner suburbs to Newcastle station. CityRail operates electric passenger train services over this line as part of its Newcastle and Central Coast line service, and diesel railcars to Maitland and beyond as part of its Hunter line regional service.
A line between Newcastle and the then much larger settlement at Maitland was first proposed in 1853 by the proponents of the original Sydney to Parramatta railway. The Hunter River Railway Company was formed later that year and the line was surveyed, however the private company failed and was bought out by the NSW government. Construction continued until the line opened in 1857. It was electrified in June 1984.
The terminus at Newcastle moved to various locations throughout the years, and has variously been named Honeysuckle and Honeysuckle Point. It was moved to its current location in 1872 and took its final name of Newcastle in 1935 when Wickham and Civic stations opened. A mortuary station opened in 1883 to serve trains departing for Sandgate Cemetery. It closed in 1933. A large goods yard, the Newcastle Goods yard was constructed east of Newcastle station in 1858. This was closed in the late 1980s and redeveloped as a bus station and park land. The line was duplicated in 1864. The Main North Line from Sydney connected at Hamilton Junction in 1887.
A criticism of the line has been that it cuts Newcastle off from its own harbour foreshore. Since the 1990s there have been a number of proposals to close or at least pare it back.
In 2005 there was a move pushed by business and property development interests to close the line with the proposal to redevelop the foreshore. This was widely criticised by among others Upper Hunter Valley users, and former Deputy Prime Minister and rail enthusiast Tim Fischer. Originally the New South Wales government had decided to close the line but later in 2006 and after a huge public outcry the Premier Morris Iemma announced that the line would stay open although in 2007 tenders were placed for a study into the lines future, including possible removal of the overhead wires and 'dieselisation' of services.
In October 2008 in response to demands from the developer General Property Trust that the rail line be removed from the city centre the Minister for the Hunter, Jodi McKay MP commissioned a consultation with the online consultation website Bang the Table. It yielded over 90,000 page views and 2800 comments from the community. A survey on the site showed in excess of 70% of respondents favoured the removal of the line from the current city centre terminus.
In December 2012 the New South Wales government announced the line east of Wickham would close to open up the area for redevelopment. This will result in the closure of Civic and Newcastle stations sometime after 2015.
Passenger and goods services were operated by steam haulage from inception. In 1961 the 620/720 class diesel railcars were introduced to provide local suburban service to Maitland on the Hunter line and south to Fassifern and Toronto on the Toronto branch line. Long haul trains to Sydney were operated by steam haulage until their final withdrawal from passenger services in 1971, and from freight trains in 1972.
In June 1984 the line was electrified when the electrification project from Wyong was completed and electrified local and long distance services were introduced south to Sydney. Local services to Maitland and beyond continue to be served by diesel railcars. The introduction into service of the Endeavour cars from 1994, and the Hunter cars from 2006, allowed the final withdrawal of the long running 620/720 railcars.
<ref>tags exist, but no
<references/>tag was found