It’s a shame people are unable to do some rudimentary research about the proposed train service from Belongil into Byron before rushing into print with misinformation.
The three-carriage rail motor will use exactly the same diesel fuel as the trucks, buses and 4WDs that currently sit for hours in traffic on Ewingsdale Road. It’s the same diesel that’s used in the B doubles we are stuck behind on the highway every day. The difference being that the amount of diesel the train will use is miniscule compared to the amount being burned by B doubles and other diesel vehicles. Anyone who has actually travelled on a rail motor knows that they are less noisy than a bus or truck travelling at the same speed. Asbestos has not been used in the brakes of any vehicle in Australia, trains included, for decades.
The train, which will not cost taxpayers one cent, will not be for the exclusive use of the rich. All local residents and visitors will be able to use it. Indications are that people will be queuing up to travel into town by train rather than sit for hours in traffic on Ewingsdale Rd, meaning traffic on the road and in the town will be reduced. Most people think that’s a win for the community and the environment.
Approval to run train services on the line is the sole responsibility of the state government; council has no say in it. The pro-development majority of Byron councillors don’t want to see trains running and they support spending $50m ripping up the line for an expensive cycleway for the exclusive use of a few cyclists.
The northern rivers community (over 15,000 have signed petitions) and TOOT, have consistently campaigned for over 11 years for commuter train services on the C-M line and for the 22ks of line built to connect it to the Queensland line at Coolangatta. The community has always supported a cycleway alongside the line, as they are in the Blue Mountains and the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria. The line goes through eight out of ten of the major north coast population centres and is ideally placed to be the spine of a sustainable public transport system for locals and 4.6 million tourists. It was obvious in 2004 that even if the government had been willing to fund the restoration of the line for the heavy (diesel) XPT train that that train would not provide the sustainable public transport service the Northern Rivers region needs to cope with population growth and 4.6 million tourists.
People are fighting for train services to ensure social equity, to reduce carbon emissions (road transport is one of the biggest producers of carbon) and to try and prevent our beautiful region being carved up by six-lane roads, costing billions, which are inevitably filled with more cars, 4WDs, B doubles and their toxic fumes. No matter how many expensive six-lane roads we build, they eventually all grind to a halt. That’s the pending doom we face. Nothing to do with love of trains or romance.
It’s difficult to understand why people would use fear and misinformation to champion the corporate forces behind the rail trail lobby to try and stop a train service that will benefit so many. It’s a small start, but there’s potential to expand services, and it may help prevent the line being destroyed. Only the extraordinary efforts of the community prevented legislation being passed in 2009 and 2014 that would have removed protection from the line and allowed the line to be destroyed and valuable rail land sold off for development. If the state government is now able to get the legislation passed with Fred Nile’s vote, people could find much worse things plonked outside their back door than a small three car, unobtrusive rail motor.
All the above information is readily available from independent sources.
Louise Doran, Ocean Shores