Newcastle rail case may be long wait

IT will be several weeks before a final judgment on the rail debate will be handed down after the state government and community group Save Our Rail presented their cases in the NSW Court of Appeal last week.

The Newcastle rail line was back in court after both sides appealed a Supreme Court ruling made in December that meant an Act of Parliament was needed for the truncation to be legal.

Section 99A of the Transport Administration Act states that a rail infrastructure owner cannot close a rail line unless they have approval of Parliament.

Save Our Rail rejected the state government's argument that closing Newcastle and Civic train stations would not amount to closing the Sydney to Newcastle line and put it in breach of the law.

The court heard the state government tried to get around the act by transferring ownership of the railway's physical assets to the Hunter Development Corporation for $10.

The Hunter Development Corporation would then take ownership of the land where the heavy rail tracks lay, using its powers under compulsory acquisition laws.

The government has continued with its plans to "revitalise" the city despite the ongoing court case, removing heavy rail boom gates, installing new level pedestrian crossings across the heavy rail line and replacing the rail services with buses.

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