Basil Cameron, Trains On Our Tracks (TOOT).
Okay. I get it. There are some disciples of trail without rails who continue to present blinkered views on their pet project and perhaps it is unlikely that they will ever consider the views of the majority of the community. It is however a shame that blatant myths and misrepresentations continue to be put forward to the detriment of our sustainable future.
John Scriverner’s letter last week is a prime example of presenting a false dichotomy between a so called “rail trail” (really a trail without rail) or nothing. Referring to the discredited ’train study’ and pretending that this assessment reflects what ‘local train supporters’ are promoting is misleading at best. John’s argument hangs off his statement that Tweed Heads and Ballina are not currently connected by rail, but he does not mention that eight of the ten largest population centres in our region are connected by rail or considers that Byron Bay with it’s two million annual visitors is at the centre of the line.
The ‘train study’ and John both refuse to consider the markets for tourist visitors even though the trail without rails is highly dependent on acknowledging such a market. It is also the case that the trail without rails proposal rejected by the NSW Government was highly dependent on being subsidised by Councils, drawing funds away from local road networks.
Refurbished rail within the corridor will have much lower construction and long term maintenance costs than roads of similar length and capacity especially when a rail line has a life of around 100 years compared to roads that require expensive major upgrades every 20 years.
TOOT has always promoted a multi use solution of rail and a trail in the existing corridor. This solution can be achieved with light rail and overcomes the problem identified by Alistrer Bell of a trail without rail that caters only to high priced tourists, leaving locals and commuters without sustainable transport options. Only a multi use corridor can reduce the number of cars on our roads, provide accessible commuter transport and economic benefits to the broader community.