The Northern Rivers Railway Action Group (NRRAG) is calling on candidates in north coast council elections to announce their position on the reinstatement of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line.
The group will survey candidates from the four LGAs through which the old track runs, calling on them ‘to support our campaign for a commuter service’ on the line.
‘If you agree with this we ask that you make a formal statement of support as part of your platform,’ NRRAG’s letter to each of the candidates requests.
NRRAG secretary Beth Shelley, said the group ‘has been trying for some time to inform the public and our political representatives about the need for rail services and indeed sent submissions to the inquiry.’
‘We believe that most people’s opinion of the situation with our local railway line has come from the ARUP report commissioned by the Liberal State government,’ she said.
‘However the ARUP report overinflated the costs, overstated the repairs needed and completely ignored the issues of road accidents, traffic congestion, cost of road maintenance, air pollution, carbon emissions and increasing population and tourism numbers in the region,’ she added.
Upper house inquiry
The move follows last week’s call by a former Tweed Shire council officer for a return of the train, which was replaced by a bus service in 2004.
Addressing an upper house inquiry into Access to Transport for Seniors and Disadvantaged People in Rural and Regional NSW, Robin Spragg said substituting trains for a coach service was ‘a major backward step’.
‘Many older people cannot get into coaches, and once in they cannot move around, stretch their legs, get to a toilet or to a buffet,’ she told APN Media.
She added this had contributed an ongoing decline in the use of public transport.
Ms Shelley, also made a submission to the inquiry, which is due to report on its findings in November.
‘There are many, very sick people who can’t get their healthcare needs met in Lismore. They have to go to Brisbane or the Gold Coast and find this difficult if they are unable to drive themselves. The available buses take hours and are an exhausting experience for a sick person,’ Ms Shelley said in her submission.
‘Many elderly and the poor are stuck at home because they don’t own a car or drive because of health issues. Social isolation is a constant element in research on illness and death,’ she added.