MEMBERS of Trains On Our Track (TOOT) today handed 3,500 petition signatures from locals wanting the return of rail services to the Murwillumbah-Casino rail corridor to Ballina MP, Tamara Smith.
TOOT president Basil Cameron said the petition was a clear indicator of the very strong support for the return of rail services to the local line.
"This petition brings the total number of signatures collected by TOOT to 15,000," he said.
"A further 2,000 signatures have also been collected by our partners, the Northern Rivers Rail Action Group (NRRAG) based in Lismore.
Tamara Smith said the petition was an amazing achievement by TOOT.
"These are all people who want us to be able to travel around the region as we used to," she said.
"I really hope that this can be part of the state government taking this issue seriously."
Cr Cameron said the petition is calling for an urgently needed public and tourist transport system, including modern shuttle light rail, buses and cycling tracks for the fast growing Northern Rivers.
"The community's rejection of a proposal to rip up the tracks and the election of the new Member for Ballina in March presents an opportunity for the NSW Government to restart the conversation around rail," he said..
"Rail runs through the centre of eight of the ten largest population centres in the Northern Rivers - soon to be nine with the planned extension of the Queensland rail system to the border - and as such is the perfect backbone for a regional public transport system connecting local bus services and cycleway.
"The rapid growth in our region and the adjacent Gold Coast region, particularly in relation to tourism, demands rail as a solution to the sustainable dispersal of tourists and increasing traffic congestion in our towns and villages."