Recent letters claiming the Casino to Murwillumbah train line is in such bad condition that trains will never return are wrong on both points.
Maintenance of line had been neglected for decades until accumulated repairs were needed. This is an age-old trick of governments allowing infrastructure to deteriorate, then using the cost of repairs as an excuse to close the service.
Most people are outraged at this neglect and deprivation of a necessary service, not justifying it. Despite the criminal neglect, most of the heavy-duty Casino-Murwillumbah line is in reasonable condition and does not need to be completely rebuilt.
The same correspondent tries to justify the actions of an incompetent Minister for (no) Transport (and mate of the notorious Eddie Obeid) who refused to come and talk to the Northern Rivers community about the transport needs of this fast growing tourist region.
In his ignorance he chose to close the only train service to the region, rather than provide the more cost effective, local commuter train service the community needed and was calling for.
Trains would have been running years ago if the Liberal/National government had kept their long standing promise ‘to get the trains running’.
Trains in the city and regional areas do not make a profit, they are a necessary taxpayer funded service as are schools and hospitals. Unlike roads and highways, which cost billions more to build and maintain, taxpayers do get a return from rail.
It’s beyond ludicrous to suggest the line should be ripped up as it only services eight of ten population areas. The line will again connect those towns and two million tourists to the main intercity line at Casino, and a much needed rail link to Coolangatta Airport.
With modern machinery the line could be repaired quickly and cheaply for a train service, as demonstrated in Byron, then locals and tourists can once more travel to and around this unique region in a more sustainable, less disruptive and low carbon way.
Even if the government was prepared to spend billions on new rail lines to Ballina and Tweed Coast, which they’re not, the lines must connect to the current line to access the main intercity trains at Casino and link to Coolangatta Airport.
There are environmental constraints to building a train line on the Tweed coastal strip.
Those advocating for this line be ripped up for cycling tourism completely ignore the two million people per year currently visiting the area who need transport.
Locals are fed up with congested roads full of potholes and are demanding the state government provide the infrastructure, especially train services, to cope with current numbers, not more tourists.
Cycleways cannot compete with the tourism, transport, or employment opportunities of rail, and certainly will not reduce traffic congestion, road maintenance costs, or carbon emissions in coastal areas visited by millions.
Fortunately Byron Shire Council is aware of the opportunities the train line provides and is commissioning an independent study of the condition of the line between Bangalow and Billinudgel, and the potential for low carbon tourism as well as safe, accessible, affordable public transport for long-suffering locals. This study will provide an accurate cost of repairing the line for trains.
Louise Doran, Ocean Shores