People are astonished that Byron Shire Councillors have voted to spend ratepayers’ resources exploring the rail trail option on the Byron Shire section of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line, as they believe the State government isn’t going to provide the trains they’ve promised. Traffic gridlock and the urgent transport needs of the community and millions of tourists are being ignored.
You’d think that after catastrophic fires and floods, councillors would have more urgent matters to focus on than wasting ratepayers’ money on a dinky little bike track for a few fit cyclists.
Meanwhile, Byron Shire residents watch as the State government spends billions upgrading the Sydney/Newcastle rail network, and rebuilds tram lines that were ripped up decades ago. Queensland is spending billions upgrading rail services to the Sunshine Coast and rebuilding the Gold Coast rail line, ripped up decades ago.
On top of the Splendour debacle, those trying to get to the Writers Festival were stuck in traffic backed up on the M1. Those people could have caught a train to the festival had there been any.
The train line is very valuable infrastructure. On behalf of ratepyayers, Council needs to remind the State government that it’s their responsibility to provide the train service they’ve promised. Repairing the line for trains will cost little more than building a bike track, but the social, economic and environmental benefits of a train service far outweigh any bike track. Burdening 15,000 ratepayers with the cost of building and maintaining the road network for 2.5 million tourists is not fair or sustainable.
While locals’ lives are disrupted by traffic gridlock, wealthy Sydney residents, including former PM Malcolm Turnbull, have access to cheap, taxpayer-funded public transport.