The Northern Rivers Railway Action Group is delighted to hear that the federal government has declined the funding request for the Murwillumbah Rail Trail despite the support of the NSW government.
Bike paths are all well and good but not when they mean ripping up our railway tracks and losing the whole corridor from Casino to Murwillumbah.
Only under the 99A Transport Administration Act are the existing railway tracks protected from being ripped up. A bike path could easily go alongside the railway track as proposed by Byron Council. We don’t understand why the bike lobby group don’t support having both.
This region’s population growth can only be served by better public transport. Our population is growing and our tourist population is 4.6 million/year.
International tourists visit Byron Bay as the iconic tourist destination in this area. With regular commuter trains they could travel to other towns and villages spreading the economic benefit. Many people aren’t prepared to travel on our congested and damaged roads so the benefit is lost to other parts of the region.
Our community is beginning to wake up to the increasing problems of traffic congestion, road damage and lack of transport options. We need trains in this area and people no longer accept the government’s inaction on the real needs of this region.
NRRAG holds a market stall regularly in Lismore and people walk up all day long, sign our petition and tell us passionately how much they want trains back and how little trust they have left in this government.
Recently during his speech to the motion of the Tumbarumba rail trail legislation, the Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance stated, ‘We have literally thousands of kilometres of disused rail infrastructure across this state because of an archaic provision in the Act. It is ironic that, as Minister of Transport, I can close a rail service but I cannot order the lifting of rail lines. To do so, I must ask the approval of this parliament.’
I would ask the Minister for Transport why close rail lines when so many council areas in regional Australia can’t afford to fix their roads? Why support a bike path instead of public transport that supports the many instead of the few? You can put a bike path anywhere without having to rip up railway lines to do it and its cheaper.
NRRAG believes regular trains on our tracks is affordable, safer and more efficient. All across the world nations are turning to rail as the most equitable and sustainable mode of transport.
Beth Shelley, spokesperson for NRRAG