Peggy Balfour, Mullumbimby
Our politicians are a joke, a bad joke. Just before the 2004 federal elections, Martin Ferguson, Jenny Macklin and Justine Elliot were electioneering in the northern rivers. They pledged $150 million towards reopening the Murwillumbah–Casino rail line if and when they were elected.
They were elected in 2007.
On her election to federal parliament, Mrs Elliot in her maiden speech said ‘and safe, affordable public transport – in particular, a long-term commitment must be made to the restoration of our XPT train. Many locals are very positive about federal Labor’s long-term commitment to restoring the train.’
During her electioneering campaign Mrs Elliot also vowed to stop the ‘blame game’ between federal and state governments.
About a year after the 2007 election I emailed Mrs Elliot’s office to ask what progress had been made toward the reopening of the train service. The reply was that nothing could be done about it as it was a state matter. So no funding forthcoming and blame the state government.
Now Barry O’Farrell says the Murwillumbah–Casino line will remain closed.
However all is not lost. On researching the internet as to what other countries have done to utilise their disused railway lines I find that they have turned them into very successful ‘rail parks’ for tourists using pedal-powered vehicles and also for private commuters. France, UK, USA, Canada, and South Korea have tourist rail parks.
Disused railway stations have been spruced up and are now rest stops with cafes and shops along the lines.
Pedal-powered vehicles are in many designs seating passengers side by side, in tandem, some take even four or six pedallers. Some rail-runner vehicles are homemade, light enough to be lifted onto a trailer and towed to the railway line. One design is solar powered (the handicapped need not be left out of ‘rail-running’) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsHG1czWeaY. A South African company produces light and sturdy polyurethane rail-track wheels as seen in the video.
So now is the time for all local entrepreneurs, mechanics and engineers to get to work. Politicians are useless. It takes a community to raise a rail park.