The $50 million proposed by the coalition to rip up our rail line is unacceptable while the need for improved public transport grows.
I am 100 per cent against ripping up the rail line and replacing it with what is essentially an expensive bike/walking track.
We can have a rail service and walking/bike trail as happens in many parts of the world. I support investment in a commuter and tourist light rail service in the northern rivers.
The state government’s proposal to rip up the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line is a very short-sighted decision.
There are so many more positives for our community if the government invests in an integrated public transport system than there ever will be from an over priced bike track for tourists. It’s time the government had a long-term sustainable vision for our area instead of pushing for urban sprawl and increasing traffic congestion
The state government’s ‘scoping study’ was a con that greatly inflated the real cost of transforming the rail line (built for heavy rail) into a light rail line for commuters and tourists.
The Liberal/National government, if re-elected, is proposing to spend over $10 billion on motorways and new rail lines in Sydney, yet we have a rail line that remains idle.
In terms of funding, the state government’s proposed highway deviation through Ballina’s largest and most significant wildlife corridor will cost over $700 million.
If the existing highway corridor were used for the upgrade it would save approximately $300 million, avoid a nationally significant koala colony and over 30 other threatened or endangered species, and result in a highway that was 2.9km shorter.
If the money saved was reallocated to local infrastructure projects, such as restoring our rail line and developing an integrated public transport system, that would provide a huge boost to our area, relieve some of the traffic congestion, and allow those without a car to access services such as Southern Cross University, TAFE, Lismore Hospital, etc.
Extending the line to Coolangatta airport would allow the growing number of day-trippers from our north to leave their cars at home, and visa versa.
The government (federal and state) is spending the money in our region, except their vision is for more cars rather than investing in the infrastructure and services to cater for a growing and aging community.
* The northern rivers has a population of over 230,000 people and it is one of the fastest growing regions in the state.
* Over two million tourists visit our region every year.
* The Byron to Lismore road is already over crowded and dangerous
* Traffic congestion from SE Qld (Brisbane/Gold Coast) to the northern rivers will only increase
* The Qld government is extending the rail line from Varsity Lakes to Coolangatta
* The $50 million allocated to the ‘rail trail’ will predominantly be used to rip up the rail line and convert it into a bike track (rail trail)
* There is no funding for facilities such as toilets, tourist infrastructure, ongoing maintenance, etc.
* Local councils have not allocated any funds to provide the facilities that would be needed or ongoing maintenance.
* More tourists would visit the towns of Bangalow, Mullumbimby, and Lismore if there were a light rail service than they will via a bike track.
* There are plans and grants available for a coastal cycleway between Ballina and the Gold Coast and beyond that would promote ‘cycle’ tourism without ripping up the rail-line. Part of this cycleway has already been constructed.
Jeff Johnson, Independent candidate for Ballina.
photo – Basil Cameron – Byron Shire Councillor and TOOT spokesperson, and Jeff Johnson, Ballina Shire Councillor and Independent Candidate for Ballina