Cr Basil Cameron, Goonengerry
The article A short history of our rail corridor debate is better termed a history of the rail trail lobby (RTL) along with the same myths and inaccuracies that have underpinned its determination for a single use corridor rather than the community preferred multi-use corridor, rails with trails.
As always the RTL reduce the community’s campaign for trains on our tracks to ‘nostalgia and symbolism’ as the ‘paramount concern’. The statement that it was ‘never really about… public transport’ is gobsmacking. Our community was not ‘slow to act’ to the closure of the line.
For over a decade prior to closure there were ongoing calls for local services on the line. Services that were all about addressing the deficit of public transport. A deficit that is growing every day along with the gridlock on our roads.
Yes there was symbolism in the last train. Neglect of community. Neglect of existing rail infrastructure located in a high growth corridor where even the Federal government was forecasting the traffic gridlock we are now experiencing. It was the rail and its potential for local commuter services, not the train, as the RTL insist. The former being a most inconvenient truth for those that would remove our tracks.
This myth has allowed the RTL to give credibility to the National Party’s attempted sleight of hand, by way of the 2012 rail study, that effectively was about the train and not local services for our community. The same National Party MPs who gave into coalition demands to slap down community expectations for rail and better public transport. Remember the Nationals had previously campaigned for commuter services on the line, then reneged once in office. Is it any wonder that they subsequently lost the seat of Ballina?
The Multi Use Rail Corridor Study (MURC) demonstrates that the line is in far better shape than the RTL like to propagandise. The line is capable of operating rail services for substantially less than the scary amounts that the RTL throw around. That is, rail vehicles that are lighter, even lighter than the existing solar train. Rail vehicles that can easily move from rail to road with the potential to provide on-demand public transport that is faster than gridlocked traffic.
The MURC model is for rail with trails for bicycles and pedestrians. So why are the RTL persisting in their push for a rail trail only? Go ask the National Party.