As pointed out by previous correspondents, the proposal to rip up billions of dollars worth of the Casino to Murwilumbah train line and replace it with an expensive $13 million, over-engineered rail trail from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek has no social licence.
Quite the opposite. Since the closure of services on the C-M rail line in 2004, local people have been calling loudly and clearly for a cost effective, sustainable, accessible, commuter train service on the line.
For almost eight years, local National Party MPs, and former premier Barry O’Farrell, supported the community and regularly promised to provide those services, and investigate building the vital rail connection to Coolangatta.
Vague claims from rail trail supporters that a bike track ‘will provide employment and economic benefits’ do not stack up against the actual environmental, social, and economic benefits of a train service, as demonstrated by the Byron zero emissions solar train which had almost 16,000 passengers in the first month of operation.
Repairs to the Byron section of line cost $600,000 per kilometer for a train service accessible to all. As opposed to the estimated $542,000 (!) cost per kilometer to rip up 24km of line for a bike track to be used by a few cyclists. The economics alone are beyond crazy.
A Tweed based civil engineer, with many years experience building rail and roads, has estimated a bike track could be provided beside the train line for as little as $50,000 per kilometer.
This would leave the bulk of the $13m funds to restore the 24ks of line from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek for a light rail service, as demonstrated by the actual cost of repairs to the Byron section of line.
Claims that as the C-M line only serves eight out of ten of the most populated North Coast towns, and is in such bad condition no government will ever return train services, are also dishonest.
Compared to the billions being spent to completely rebuild the Gold Coast line, which was ripped up and the corridor sold off in the 1960s, the cost of returning trains to the C-M corridor is peanuts.
When premier Berejiklian recently announced plans to build the St Marys to Badgeries Creek rail line, she stated the train service would generate up to 200,000 jobs, and enhance economic activity and the livability of the region.
Train services on the C-M line, when connected to Coolangatta, will provide the same benefits in spades for North Coast locals and five million tourists, for minimal cost.
The costs and benefits of a train service on the C-M line have been clearly demonstrated and far outweigh any claimed benefits of a bike track which will cost almost as much.
After so many years fighting for a train service, this community will not stand by while the state government wastes millions destroying this valuable rail line for a bike track for a hand full of cyclists.
Louise Doran, Ocean Shores