Lake Macquarie Electorate Railway Station Car Parking

18th June 2019

Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (18:31): One of the great things about living in the Lake Macquarie electorate is that most people live within a reasonably short distance of a local rail station. Situated on the Main Northern rail line, stations at Wyee, Morisset, Dora Creek, Fassifern and Cardiff stations, for example, offer an easy ride into Newcastle or down to Sydney. Yet the vast majority of people who need to travel locally or into Newcastle or Sydney for work, leisure, shopping or medical appointments simply drive. To their credit, the Government and the Minister for Transport and Roads have been working hard to get more people out of their cars and onto public transport via a number of initiatives. Not the least of which is the Transport Access Program, which is providing access upgrades at dozens of railway stations around the State, including Wyee in my electorate. If we are serious about getting more people out of their cars and onto public transport then these types of upgrades are absolutely necessary. People will only leave the car at home if we make public transport more efficient, cleaner, faster and convenient.

In Lake Macquarie, where the local population is growing, most people who catch the train into Newcastle or Sydney drive to the station, park and board the train. This is putting great strain on existing parking space. If you are a weekday rail commuter, parking options have become increasingly poor and for many that becomes a reason not to bother. It is my belief that we need to urgently consider building multi-level parking stations at Morisset, Cardiff and possibly Fassifern stations. Morisset currently has several at-grade parking lots, but they are now generally full before 8.00 a.m. on weekdays. At Cardiff, rail commuters are parking more than 600 metres from the station in residential streets and similar issues exist at Fassifern.

I recently commissioned an architect to put together some concept designs for a multi-level car park at Morisset and identified more than sufficient land for similar car parks at Cardiff and Fassifern. I am pleased to say that while these concepts have the backing of my local community, they have been very well received also by the Minister for Transport and Roads. I know his staff and his department are looking at how we may be able to progress these plans. They are also supported by various business groups, and with a bit of innovative thinking at Morisset and Cardiff we could incorporate business opportunities into these multi-level car parks with the assistance of, for example, Dantia, the Lake Macquarie City Council's economic development company.

As I have mentioned a number of times in this House, a lot of the strain on Cardiff station would be alleviated by the long?planned Lake Macquarie Transport Interchange at Glendale.

Hopefully we will hear more about that project once the Government completes a new business case. I know the local members will make sure the Government does not forget about the issue. The situation at Fassifern is more complex. It is a well-used commuter station, complicated by a car park that is poorly designed for cars and buses. It is further complicated because the council owns the car park and the State owns the rail infrastructure surrounding it, making a significant upgrade difficult. It is a complication that has made getting even a simple shelter for commuter use between the station and car park far more difficult than it should be. As it stands, people are still forced to wait for bus and train connections and personal pick-ups in the pouring rain or extreme heat.

The reality is that people do not care who owns what or who is responsible, they just want a basic upgrade and basic facilities—and that is a bus shelter. I also mention that work is about to begin on a significant access upgrade of Wyee station. This upgrade will include the installation of lifts to the platforms, the upgrade of pathways, safety upgrades, a new kiss and ride space, and car park improvements. This station does not serve just the people of Wyee in the southern end of my electorate, it also serves the very large population living in the northern parts of the Central Coast and on the eastern side of Lake Macquarie, in the Wyong and Swansea electorates. The upgrade will greatly benefit many elderly, disabled and frail people who simply cannot access the station platforms now, as well as parents who struggle with prams and those travelling to airports with lots of luggage.

The positive impact that this upgrade will have—and the impact that new parking facilities at Morisset, Cardiff and Fassifern could have—cannot be underestimated. I take this opportunity to thank the Minister for his investment in Wyee station, and for his willingness to work with me and the Lake Macquarie community to fix some of the issues—particularly the parking issues—at Morisset, Cardiff and Fassifern. I trust that the Government will continue to deliver improved accessibility to public transport for the Lake Macquarie electorate and the region.

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