According to the government’s Brisbane-Sydney Corridor Strategy (2007) traffic on the Pacific Highway crossing the Queensland border into NSW is projected to increase to 151,000 vehicles per day in the next ten years, an increase of almost 400 per cent on the 2007 number of 41,724 vehicles per day. We know a massive amount of this traffic comes into our towns.
Byron Bay alone has 1.6m visitors per year and Destination Byron expects this to increase due to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games to be held in 2018. Almost 40 per cent of the 5.8 million people who use Gold Coast Airport every year also travel south to the north coast by road.
What is the state government planning to do about this massive amount of traffic headed our way and the increased congestion and parking problems it will cause in our towns?
According to their Draft North Coast Regional Plan document 2016 they recommend ripping up the Casino to Murwillumbah (C-M) rail line, and replacing it with a cycleway. They also plan to ’work with local bus operators to develop routes and timetables to improve bus services in the region’s major centres and their connections with regional communities.’ As if our local roads can cope with more (mostly empty) large buses.
How ripping up the C-M rail line, which connects eight out of ten north coast communities, to replace it with a cycleway and more buses, will provide public transport options for people traveling to, and around the region, and reduce traffic congestion in our towns, is not explained. Why would any government even think of ripping up the one piece of infrastructure that, if the 22k connection is built to Coolangatta, could take many thousands of cars off our already congested roads?
What are our local state and federal MPs doing about this? Nothing. They seem happy to allow this valuable piece of public infrastructure be destroyed.
Perhaps it has something to do with the millions of dollars in donations that both major political parties receive from the road transport industry, oil companies, road construction companies, car manufacturers – and on it goes.
Their policy certainly has nothing to do with the transport needs of the Northern Rivers community or the 4.6m tourists who visit the region every year.
Queenslanders are paying a huge price for their government’s destruction of the Gold Coast train line in the 1960s. It’s costing taxpayers billions to rebuild that line, money that could have been spent on hospitals and schools.
Byron Bay Rail Company (BBRC), is undertaking repairs on 3.4kms of line to the north of Byron Bay station at a cost of $1.1m, and will be running regular train services on the line from April. This example shows that the C-M line can be repaired and trains running for much less than the government has claimed.
For little more than ripping up the line for a cycleway, there could be small trains running regular services on the line, providing genuine public transport for locals and 4.6 million tourists, at the same time reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions in our towns. For any government to even think of destroying this valuable piece of public infrastructure amounts to criminal vandalism.
The government’s ‘no trains, more traffic congestion plan’ will inevitably lead to unsustainable increases in traffic congestion, environmental destruction as roads are widened and expensive bypasses are built, and massive loss of quality of life for residents as cars continue to eat up our towns.
Louise Doran, Ocean Shores