RAIL TRACKS: Scenes at the Lismore train station in 2004 when the last XPT ran on the Casino to Murwillumbah line.
RAIL TRACKS: Scenes at the Lismore train station in 2004 when the last XPT ran on the Casino to Murwillumbah line. Jacklyn Wagner

LETTER: Seeing sense in re-instating rail

THE NORTHERN Rivers Railway Action Group is overjoyed at recent news that the State Govt will not be proceeding with the current EOI process for a Rail Trail on the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line.

"There was a wide range of proposals for projects along the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line but some differing views as to the best model and a range of views and options for investment," said Minister for Regional Development John Barilaro. "Further work will be necessary before we can progress proposals on that corridor."

Perhaps the NSW government is realising that rail is safer, popular, good for tourism and lessens traffic congestion.

A recent Fairfax media article (June 13-14) mentioned the new Gold Coast tram line which was built between 2010 and 2013 saying:

"About 20,000 passengers a day use it, well above forecasts. It has taken cars off the road, about 5% on Gold Coast City Council's count. It's just transformed the Gold Coast, particularly for a tourist destination when people don't have cars. It's such an easy way to get around," said Anthony Albanese who as Transport Minister at the time allocated $365 million to the $1.6 billion line of 13 kms.

Apparently there used to be a railway line on the Gold Coast, even going down as far as the Tweed.

The government ripped up the track, sold off the land and have now realised that rail is the way to go.

This is what we want to avoid in the Northern Rivers where currently the cost of putting trains back on the line might not be much more than $100 million.

A June 22 article in the Guardian was headed: "There's more to transport than roads. What does this government have against trains?"

It stated: "Australian cities are creaking under the weight of population growth and urban sprawl. Road networks with limited capacity are struggling to cope. Earlier this month Infrastructure Australia released an updated National Infrastructure Audit which warned traffic congestion would cost the nation $53bn a year by 2031 unless action was taken."

Whether we are talking about saving money on traffic congestion, carbon emissions or road accidents rail is the answer and governments are starting to listen.

We need to encourage the Federal government to join with Queensland and NSW governments to extend the railway across the border.

Considering NSW has a windfall of billions from stamp duty and the poles and wires, they could certainly afford the tiny amount needed for our railway.

Beth Shelley

The Northern Rivers Railway Action Group

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