Call for commuter service

Jenny Gardiner MLC (third from left) releases the rail report at Byron Bay Railway Station last week.
Jenny Gardiner MLC (third from left) releases the rail report at Byron Bay Railway Station last week.

A low-cost daily commuter rail service on the Casino to Murwillumbah line has been recommended by a committee probing the State Government's decision to axe the North Coast XPT passenger service.

In its final report released last week, the Legislative Council standing committee chaired by The Nationals MLC, Jenny Gardiner, recommended the State Government accept the Federal Government's offer of funding help for the service.

The committee also believes the State Government should be willing to redirect savings from the Australian Rail Track Corporation Agreement to the Casino to Murwillumbah line.

It also acknowledged calls for the extension of the line into south-east Queensland to join with the proposed south-east Queensland railway line to the Gold Coast Airport.

It called on the State Government to consult with the Queensland Government and commission a new study on the viability of extending the line to Coolangatta.

The State Government's announcement last April that it was axing the North Coast XPT service and re- placing it with a coach service caused widespread outrage in the region.

The decision was made after Transport Minister, Michael Costa, had pledged only several months earlier that the service would remain in place until December this year.

A study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers has found the introduction of a lower cost community service on the Casino to Murwillumbah line would be viable.

One of the recommendations from the standing committee included that the State Government produce a comprehensive preservation plan for the Casino to Murwillumbah line.

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