The state government has reneged on a promise to reinstate the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line, which was decommissioned by the previous Labor government, according to Byron Shire councillor Basil Cameron.
‘In 2004, Barry O’Farrell promised the Northern Rivers a commuter service “within weeks” of a return to government. It has since broken that promise in favour of a so-called feasibility study that is unlikely to result in any action for many years,’ Mr Cameron said yesterday.
Mr Cameron said the government was ‘putting up a smokescreen’ to cover the fact it was prioritising Sydney transport at the expense of the regions.
The NSW upper house has now set up an inquiry into regional public transport that is being conducted by the Regional Development Committee. Meanwhile, the Casino–Murwillumbah rail line is likely to be delayed for many years while Transport New South Wales prepares a complex array of state and regional transport plans, Mr Cameron says.
‘Planners from Transport New South Wales have made it clear in recent discussions that the inadequate feasibility study, which only examines costs and not benefits, will be shelved until a state transport masterplan and a new regional transport plan are completed.
‘These plans are unlikely to be completed for several years with no guarantees that any new projects in regional New South Wales will be included in priorities after the plans are completed.’
The upper house committee chairman Andrew Gee says the inquiry ‘will look at how CountryLink services can be improved, including how the links between train and coach services can be better integrated. Members also want to hear about what needs to be done to increase the use of inter-regional public transport,’ he said.
Submissions can be emailed to [email protected], lodged via the committee’s website at www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/stateandregionaldevelopment or mailed to: The Chair, State and Regional Development Committee, Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000.