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If the answer is light, it must be done right

GUIDING LIGHT: France has an excellent light rail system but it is much different to the one proposed for Newcastle, says reader Ralph Spring.
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I FOUND Ian Kirkwood’s article (Herald3/3) interesting reading and admire the extent to which Keolis Downer are attempting to demonstrate the virtue of tramways.

As a person who has happily ridden trams in Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Germany (multiple cities), Bulgaria, Latvia and Moscow, I need no convincing that trams are an excellent long-term investment in local transport if you have the right recipe to generate travellers.

However, I don’t see how you can compare Angers with Newcastle.

The Angers tramway ideally joins a divided riverside city and is 12.5 kilometres long and has 25 stops.

It is a city of very narrow streets and restricted parking. The tram services almost equal distances east and west of the main railway station, opening up new development opportunities at one end.

One of the major reasons for the Wickham interchange was the paucity of travellers between Wickham and Newcastle and now we are asked to believe that a 2.5km Newcastle tramway will generate enough traffic to be sustainable.

This is just not on. We have to accept that whatever attractions the city centre ofNewcastle once held are gone and nothing’s going to bring them back.

The attractions have all moved to either Honeysuckle, Kotara, Charlestown or Glendale.

So to be feasible and efficient, the tramway needs to go west as far as the main university campusand it needs a spur or loop line that takes in John Hunter Hospital.

Ralph Spring,CardiffCAR-FREE CBDLAST year my wife and I also visited a number of European cities where light rail was a popular mode of transport. In Montpellier we stayed at an Airbnb which was located opposite a light rail station.

Trams were running backwards and forwards every few minutes. The owners of the Airbnb told us that having a car in Montpellier was out of the question. Not enough parking and very cheap and efficient public transport available.

Another city we visited was Amsterdam. This city is full ofbicycles and trams.

Private cars were barely seen in the CBD. Parking is very expensive and hard to find.

Newcastle will get the same benefits when light rail is running through the city.

However, anextended network is definitely necessary to make people use that mode of transport. It should be cheap, frequent, effective and coordinated with other modes of transport.

Visiting the new courts, the university, the beaches and the city will be easier without the hassle of parking your car.

Chris den Hollander,MaitlandNBN SUCCESSAM I the only person in Newcastle who has had a successful experience with the transitioning to NBN?

I first made contact with the Telstra repat Belmont Shopping Centre, where he did all the paperwork and explained the procedure to me.

Several weeks later I received a phone call from Telstra to make a time to have the modem installed and also to let me know when the NBN would be connected.

On the day of installation the technician called and said he was 10 minutes away and was this OK.

He arrived and installed the new modem and explained what he was doing and why, in simple easy to understand terms.

He then advised that the NBN would be connected a week later and we would be advised when this was done. We received advice by email on the exact date we had been advised, and all was done.

All along the way I was kept well informed by Telstra and received written information regarding changes that would appear on my bill and the services I would receive under the plan I had agreed to.

The NBN is faster than before and so far so good.

Do we only complain and not congratulate?

Karen Percival, ValentineBroken promisesCRITICISING the Defence department’s decisions on submarines this week should have reminded Tony Abbott that he is an MP – not the prime minister.

His destabilising influence both inside and outside the Liberal Party has done serious damage.

There is nothing more poisonous than disunity, especially in an election year.

Mr Abbott assured us he would never leak or white-ant. Another broken promise from a deposed leader who just can’t accept that driving Bronwyn Bishop to her helicopter is his true calling.

Any member of the Liberal Party who dared to have an idea of his own would have been dealt with swiftly during the Abbott regime and it is not acceptable now for Mr Abbott to break his own rules.

However, his behaviour this week is typical of the behaviourwe saw each day during during the Abbott prime ministership.

John Butler, Windella DownsDisputing deductionsLES McCarthy (“Winners and losers”,Letters 5/3)described a negative gearing tax lurk.Or did he?

His friend whosupposedly makes $400,000 a year, buys a house for $500k, spends another $500k on it and thensells it tax-free through negative gearing.Really?

The $500k of improvements would be a capital expense, claimable against capital gains tax, not through negative gearing.He would have to hold the house for at least a year to be considered for capital gains tax, otherwise sale-profit would be considered income and fully taxable at marginal rate.

His claim of tax exemption for family residence would conflict and nullify any tax-deduction claims for negative gearing and/or capital improvements.

Perhaps he improved and rented the house for say one year to claim tax deductions.

Perhaps hethen claimed it as family home for say one month to avoid any tax on sale.

But thenhe faces serious taxation questions.Did he buy it as an investment?Then he can’t claim it as family home.Did he buy it as the family home? Then he can’t claim the negative gearing or capital tax deductions.The tax office is well aware of this ploy and will come down heavily on people who try to game the system.

Peter Devey, Merewether

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