It will be the end of the year before the community finds out whether the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line gets a new lease of life.
At a community transport forum in Lismore last night, minister for the north coast Don Page announced the investigation will be undertaken by Tim Poole, previously the Gold Coast Rapid Transit Project director.
Mr Page told local media, ‘we’ve deliberately extended the terms of reference in the feasibility study to specifically identify the benefits of rail services on the 130km rail corridor, as well as the types of transport that could be offered and the potential to extend the line into South-East Queensland’.
The study had previously been criticised for looking only at the costs and not the benefits of reopening the line.
Karin Kolbe, President of Trains On Our Tracks, said, ‘we’re eagerly awaiting the details of the new terms of reference. We’re glad the Minister has listened to the community’s concerns and we want to see more detail.’
‘We also want the government to properly assess what the costs to our road infrastructure will be if we don’t have the rail. For example, how much will be needed to upgrade the Lismore-Bangalow Road ?
‘The next step is to get a firm date for the study’s completion,’ she said.
The minister first announced an investigation into the feasibility of the service on 18 November last year and tenders for the study were advertised the following week.
Last week Byron Shire councillor Basil Cameron said that the government was employing delaying tactics to go back on its 2004 promise to reopen the line.
‘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,’ he said.
Mr Page denied that this was the case.