There are many myths being circulated about the cost and viability of a commuter train service on the Casino to Murwilumbah line.
Trains can be returned to our tracks at much less cost than inflated government figures. The North Byron Beach Resort consortium are planning to introduce a regular rail shuttle on the line between Ewingsdale and Byron Bay later this year as a scenic alternative to traffic congestion. Their cost for restoring that section of line is $300,000 per kilometre. Compare that figure with the state government’s inflated cost of more than $16m per kilometre to repair that section of line.
TOOT members have extensively researched costs of building and restoring rail lines and have gathered reliable information which says the Casino to Murwillumbah line could be restored for little more than the $45m the government is planning to spend ripping up this valuable piece of public infrastructure for a cycling track. A cycling track will not provide public transport for anyone.
Double hit: northern rivers ratepayers will wear the cost of the underfunded cycleway proposal. In addition to wasting taxpayer funds to rip up valuable infrastructure, ratepayers of councils in the northern rivers will be hit with the cost of providing supporting facilities, services and maintenance associated with the walking track proposal including toilets, car parks, rubbish collection and ongoing maintenance not costed in the proposal. This will mean even less money for local roads and council services. So-called ‘rail’ trails around the country have ended up costing councils dearly long after state governments effectively shifted the costs onto local communities.
North coast National Party MPs and candidates, who have made repeated promises over many years to ‘get the trains running’ are now out in force trying to tell us that a cycleway/walking track will provide the public transport the north coast community and 4.6m tourists need. Unless people use their vote wisely to send a strong message at the ballot box next month we’ll continue to get more of the same – nothing!
Louise Doran , Ocean Shores.