It’s hard to know where to start on the inaccuracies and contradictions in Mr Shanasy’s letter re Rail Trail Rolled last week.
The statement that ‘no government has expressed any interest in committing the enormous funds needed to get trains back’ is untrue and there are miles of media footage and photos to prove it.
Local politicians and members from both the Labor and National Parties were prominent in the initial campaign to save the train.
For over eight years local National Party MPs, and then Leader of the Opposition Barry O’Farrell, repeatedly promised to provide a commuter train service on the Casino to Murwillumbah (C-M) line and investigate building the rail connection to Coolangatta.
They claimed the service would cost no more than the slow, uncomfortable CountryLink buses that people hate or cannot use.
The $4m cost to repair three kilometers of the Byron section of line shows the C-M line could be repaired for $171.6m, (even doubled it’s only $343.2m) which is far from enormous, especially when compared to the billions spent upgrading the one hundred kilometers of Pacific Highway from Tweed to Ballina.
Of course when the Odeid mess hit the fan and the Liberal/Nationals new they would be elected regardless of how many promises they broke, they lost interest in train services for the North Coast. It had nothing to do with the cost or necessity of the service.
While Mr Shanasy claims that there’s ‘no incentive to even consider a rail rebuild along the 1894 alignment’ he goes on to contradict himself when he states that ‘there must be a united wish for holding onto the corridor for ‘future use’ but then states ‘the whole community must realise governments are not going to fund rail infrastructure on this corridor’. These comments reveal the duplicity of the bikers’ claim that they want to rip up the line to save it for future train services.
The North Coast community has invested a huge amount of time, money and effort over fourteen years to get Trains On Our Tracks and save the valuable rail corridor for train services.
They are not about to allow the line to be destroyed and replaced with an expensive bike track for a few cyclists.
The politicians are well aware of the overwhelming community support for train services or they would have destroyed the line and sold off the valuable land years ago.
While the ‘rip up the rails group’ are so fixated on their agenda to deprive millions of a viable, safe, sustainable public transport service, the state government is selling off rail land in Byron for a song, which may be the start of a mass sell-off.
Thus destroying any chance of having a bike track alongside the train line, which is where it needs to be. Bike tracks are not public transport and cannot replace train services.
Scientists are telling us that we need to do more to reduce emissions and the catastrophic effects of climate change. The (world first) zero emissions solar train in Byron has exceeded expected passenger numbers and demonstrates how popular a train service on the whole line would be.
Building and maintaining roads and highways is not only many times more costly than rail, the added cost of road deaths and injuries, plus the cost to the environment and wildlife, is massive.
Upgrading rail services to make them faster and more user friendly is the only sensible way to go.
Regular train services on the C-M line to connect communities and link up with the main line at Casino, and building the link to Coolangatta, is the only cost effective, safe, sustainable way of providing public transport for locals and five million tourists to the region, at the same time saving lives, reducing traffic congestion and toxic emissions in our towns.
Louise Doran, Ocean Shores