The Rail Trail ad in the last Echo concludes with ‘We can’t think of a better way to experience the beauty of our backyard. Can you?’ Well yes. Through the window of an air-conditioned solar-powered train.
Imagine what it would be like to travel between Lismore and Murwillumbah in comfort and safety. The patronage from Byron to the Bluesfest and Splendour alone would go a long way to ensuring the financial viability of such a train. Instead, we’re going to be burdened with an asphalt psycho-cyclist’s wet dream. As summers become increasingly sweltering, the popularity of slogging through all weathers will gradually fade and the white elephant that it is will become evident to all.
The O’Farrell team were all over the Northern Rivers in ‘Trains on Our Tracks’ T-shirts while campaigning for the 2011 election. This successful tactic turned out to be a complete fake. Highly inflated costs were quoted. ‘Just isn’t financially possible’ they said. Hundreds of millions can be spent on things like demolishing a perfectly good stadium, or on Sydney trains that don’t fit the platforms, trams that crack up, ferries that can’t be used – but essential infrastructure for the regions? Don’t think so.
The rail trail concept is a sneaky way to avoid State government responsibility and shift costs onto ratepayers. The Tweed section has been allocated $600K for the first three years of maintenance, which may or may not be adequate. But we know who will be paying for this in perpetuity when the three years are up. The Byron Shire section is longer than the Tweed’s, so start saving up.