Inland Rail has pulled out of a scheduled Wagga public information session less than 24 hours before its representatives were due to arrive.
The project has been criticised by members of the Wagga community, with concerns raised on a string of elements including the timing of the session, infrastructure changes, routes and rail crossing approaches.
The organisation was due to host a two-hour drop-in session on the multi-billion dollar project, where it would answer questions from the community and address any concerns stemming from an extensive document, dubbed the preferred infrastructure report (PIR) on the Albury to Illabo (A2I) section, on Wednesday.
However, Inland Rail announced at 6.45pm on Tuesday it was cancelling the appointment with the public over protest concerns.
"We have become aware of potential protest activity at the Wagga Wagga drop-in session so are postponing the event to allow us to make appropriate arrangements for a rescheduled event, including a revised location to ensure a safe environment for all those attending and to minimise disruption for the local community," a spokesperson for the organisation said.
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The 187-page document was released for public comment last week, with Inland Rail staff due to help guide the public through the extensive report at a raft of public opportunities this week.
A similar meeting with the public was held in Henty earlier that day, and the same is scheduled for Junee on Thursday.
It prompted a strong reaction from the Wagga community, with one man calling for a symbolic protest in the form of red tying red ribbons on public poles, and others urging people to join them at the drop-in session.
The head of Wagga's ratepayer advocacy group, Chris Roche, had also aired concerns around train speed limits, disruptions during the project's implementation, and integrity of the North Wagga viaduct.
The Wednesday session was slated to be held at the Wagga City Library. It is not yet known when and where the new engagement opportunity will take place.
In the statement announcing the Wednesday cancellation, Inland Rail said it has extensively engaged with the Wagga community and wishes to do so in the future.
"Inland Rail will announce the new location, date, and time for the re-scheduled Wagga Wagga session shortly and encourages residents with any questions on the A2I PIR to attend," it said.
"Details of the re-scheduled Wagga Wagga session will be available on the Inland Rail website on the A2I project homepage.
"Inland Rail has engaged extensively with Wagga Wagga residents since 2017 and looks forward to further engagement as we proceed with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment approvals process."
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