A NSW upper house MP yesterday tabled a petition to return the Casino to Murwillumbah rail service but the call may have come too late after two bridges on the line were demolished this week.
The removal of the historic bridges effectively severs the old north coast railway line and erodes hopes it will ever be reopened.
Work commenced on the first of the two bridges, at Woodlawn Street, North Lismore, last Sunday.
Crews were this morning mopping up the work at Binna Burra, where a second bridge crossing Lismore Road was demolished yesterday.
Greens NSW MP and transport spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi yesterday tabled a petition containing more than 1,300 signatures in state parliament calling on the government to provide regular commuter train services along the north coast rail line using diesel railcars.
On Tuesday TOOT spokesperson Basil Cameron called on government to scrap its plans for a rail trail along the old route.
Mr Cameron said the costs of a rail trail had been underestimated in a recently released study, while an earlier study on the cost of returning a rail service had been inflated.
Ms Faruqi meanwhile said the government could start ‘repairing the track from Lismore to Casino as a priority’.
‘The $900 million [in costs] estimated for reinstating the Casino to Murwillumbah line is over-inflated with a massive 50 per cent in “contingencies” added to the cost’ Ms Faruqi said.
‘Regional rail in Victoria has been reinstated at much less cost per km. Even the new Darwin to Alice Springs railway line was completed at a much smaller (seven times less per kilometre) cost than the estimates for the Casino to Murwillumbah line.
‘People in the northern rivers have also lost out in the 2014-2015 state budget as there is nothing allocated for regional public transport at all.
‘Effective and efficient rail services are crucial for building regional NSW and to connect a major centre like Lismore to create more employment and tourism opportunities.
Ms Faruqi said that locals and visitors alike had signed her petition for the return of the railway.
‘In just a few months, the northern rivers community have collected more than 1,300 signatures from locals and visitors who are demanding a return to a much needed rail service in this area.
‘This petition highlights the lack of effective public transport for the use of residents, business people and tourists, and calls on the government to provide regular commuter train services on the railway line using diesel railcars,’ she said.