Clickety clack along that track

Lionel J Pink, Lismore

Watching a program yesterday, Nordlandsbanen Train Journey, reminded me of the appeal of country rail travel, aside from the obvious A to B benefits of being able to simply relax until I get where I feel to go.

Along with many others who used to enjoy the Northern Rivers Railway service, the word ‘appreciation’ springs to mind in regards to looking at the beauty of mother nature, which is not mentioned nearly enough when describing what country rail travel does for so many.

Politicians and corporate executives (plane travellers) discuss the obvious commercial aspects of trains. Trains in cities are about expediting people to and from work through built up areas and suburbs to their intended destination. The ho hum, hum drum, clickety clack… through the city by train that probably all the bureaucratic-minded citizens of cities know of. Those denying rail services for the Northern Rivers cannot be blamed for their dismissive lack of interest in our populace once again having what was taken away. Policy makers have probably been near trains all their lives and do not feel the appeal of them, other than as a necessary function.

Sitting looking out the windows of a country train service taking people through beautiful scenery is just great for the soul. Tourists are all of us. Whether local, regional or overseas, the appreciation of the views put all on tour. I believe the lack of appreciation for what we’ve had removed is at the heart of the issue of why our train services need to resume!

Politicians shrug, saying we should just catch connecting buses. You do not understand. Not many could claim to feel great appreciation staring out the window of a bus on the freeway, in traffic. The life connection that is only truly found when passing through countryside on a train, is quite simply not there.

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2 responses to “Clickety clack along that track”

  1. Len Heggarty says:

    This is the story of one man on a train and it typifies just why we don’t have rural train services any more.
    The train trip would have run at a loss.
    In 2004 when the NSW government curtailed the Casino to Murwillumbah rail service, maintenance needed to be done on the track. Sleepers need to be replaced, and rails tightened. The government looked at the income coming in from travellers on the train and the amount of money needed for that maintenance. They decided the economics were not in correct order as the money coming in was not enough. The track was closed down.
    This is happening all over the world. No matter how dreamy and romantic and so wonderful, ecstatic and environmental things seem to be in the mind of the train traveller, we live in a monetary world where things have to paid for. The fares on the Casino to Murwillumbah run needed to be increased. It was the Howard years and as is Liberal thinking money and funding is shifted to the cities.
    On ABC 4 Corners, on Monday night the same story that happened to the demise of the Casino to Murwillumbah railway happened to Virgin Airlines. The management built the airline up into a superb flying machine and company where staff knew each other and there was no “them” and “us” in management but a “we” and that cooperative push drove the company into the air and into the mind and hearts of many travellers. BUT, the business side was lacking and they started to run down the cash side of the ledger and run out of money and debts started to emerge, and the COVID-19 hit them like a sledge hammer and now Virgin Airlines is just a parking lot of stationary and motionless planes on the ground, grounded. There is no money to get them into the air with Billions of dollars in debt. A private equity firm has bought it and they buy and sell things, no matter what that “thing” is. Will they get Virgin into the air?
    So train travel may be dreamy and ecstatic and fantastic, but the income has to come in and people have to pay for the privilege of train travel. Then the dream of looking out the window and sitting in a window seat of a train chugging up a cutting looking out onto the mountains and pastures will be a reality and not a dream like in this article.

  2. Peter Hatfield says:

    Sitting in a lurching air conditioned NSW country rail carriage pulled by a dirty massive diesel is hardly connecting with the surrounding countryside. Its just a bus on steel tracks that would cost people of NSW double or more per passenger for a slower journey than a coach down the completed M1 will take you to South Grafton or Coffs.
    The sensory travel experience that will connect tens of thousands of visitors with our beautiful environment is of course a walk or cycle down the rail trail. And unlike any rail services it’s a possibilty the NSW Government is happy to fund that will bring jobs and income to help with the post Corona recovery.

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