Looking to Q’ld for reopening of railway
They could re-gauge the line to the Queensland gauge of 1600 mm.
They could then operate their new diesel railcars through to Lismore and provide us with rapid transport to Coolangatta airport, the Gold Coast and Brisbane.
They would also be able to operate their heritage steam locomotives and vintage carriages on the line for special trains.
Elsewhere in Australia cycle paths have been built in the rail reservation alongside operating trains. Cyclists can cycle along the path and put their bicycles on the train for the return journey.
The Queensland trains cater for bicycles and carry many bicycles each day without the need for them to be dismantled and placed in ‘boxes’ as required by the NSW XPT trains.
Elsewhere in Australia, dedicated bus ways have been built.
Would it be possible for the cycle path to be used by bicycles during the day and by buses at night?
This would remove the buses from the roads at night. Where would the money come from?
Last week the Federal Government announced a grant for $13 million for a Victorian rail trail.
If buses were to use the cycle path, then roads money could be used.
Most of Australia’s tourist and heritage railways make money from the sale of souvenirs. The XPT trains did not sell any souvenirs.
The reopened railway could also carry parcel freight – a profitable “extra”.
With an adjacent cycle path, passenger numbers would increase.
The new line could also make use of volunteers.
Most steam-hauled heritage railways use volunteers. Victoria’s famous “Puffing Billy” has some full-time paid staff but relies heavily on its 600 volunteers to run daily steam trains
How do we get action?
There are 30 to 40 disused railways in NSW like ours.
There is a need to convene a conference of all community groups associated with these lines to adopt unified proposals to put to their local State politicians.
One proposal may be that all these disused lines should be transferred to the local government authority. They are closer to the local residents’ wishes and needs than the Sydney-based Government.
(Mark Plummer is a retired solicitor and rail fan. He was the foundation president of the Australian Rails to Trails Society. He can be contacted by email on firstname.lastname@example.org)