With the Gold Coast winning the Commonwealth Games for 2018, northern NSW and south-east QLD will see an unprecedented number of visitors.
Local rail lobby group Trains on our Tracks (TOOT) is calling for rail to be seen as a way of moving the thousands of participants and visitors around the region.
‘We need to be smart about the transport options,’ said TOOT president Karin Kolbe.
‘TOOT calls on all parties to work together to get rail services running in the Northern Rivers and connected through to the Gold Coast airport.
‘It’s in the interests of everyone – visitors, residents, tourism operators and politicians – to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone. We don’t want to see our road system turned into a giant car park with bumper-to-bumper traffic.
‘We call on the federal government, the QLD and NSW governments and all the councils to work together on this.’
The existing Casino–Murwillumbah train line terminates just beyond Murwillumbah. From there it’s about 24km to the Gold Coast airport.
In the last budget the NSW funded an independent investigation into the feasibility of reopening the line but TOOT says an independent study done by Price Waterhouse Coopers in 2004 said that light rail could be running on the line for just $30 million.
In comparison, the Ballina bypass has cost $640 million and the Tugun bypass $543 million.
In 2008 the federal government gave $375 million towards the Gold Coast light rail.
‘The NSW state government has committed to a transport plan, and we urge them to consider the needs of tourists and locals.
‘In the context of large infrastructure projects, our rail line offers value for money because it’s already in place,’ said Ms Kolbe.
‘Let’s seize this opportunity to create the infrastructure that will serve us well for decades.’