The recent announcement for $50 million rail trail funding shows that the Liberal/National Government is determined to push ahead with its plan to erase their failed promises of reinstating the Casino to Murwillumbah line by ripping up the line itself.
The Greens consider rail trails on a case by case basis and it is very clear that on the Casino to Murwillumbah line, the overwhelming desire and need of the people is to reinstate that line as a rail service.
The $50 million would be better used kickstarting a service between Casino and Lismore. The 2014-2015 state budget did not have a single cent to build public transport in the northern rivers but somehow tens of millions of dollars have appeared to destroy it.
In order to begin ripping up transport infrastructure in the northern rivers, the government will require an act of parliament.
The Greens position is that the Casino to Murwillumbah line should be reinstated, with a rail trail beside it if feasible, and thus we will be opposing any legislation should it come up.
It is disingenuous of the government to say that ripping up a rail track won’t jeopardise its use as a rail line in the future.
Once tens of millions has been invested in a rail trail and all the tracks have been ripped up, it will make it much more expensive to return rail services.
Rail trails can be great for recreation and tourism purposes in some circumstances, but not at the expense of essential regional public transport services. For more information visit http://www.trade.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/65757/EOI_Rail_Trails.pdf
Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC, Greens NSW