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TRANSPORT infrastructure will not fall off the radar as an issue in the Cowper electorate despite the installation of a new Federal Government.
While Labor's Alfredo Navarro has signalled pressure will be maintained on The Nationals to fulfil promises on the Pacific Highway duplication, The Greens have reminded supporters they'll continue to lobby for progress on rail development.
Pre-election Budget cuts of $4.9 billion to public transport funding announced by Federal Coalition treasurer Joe Hockey on September 5 has angered both parties opposed to the move.
And Greens candidate Carol Vernon is urging the importance of rail not be forgotten in the midst of highway lobbying.
"I understand that the bulk of the promised Federal money for the Pacific Highway upgrade will not be paid until later in the decade," she said.
"(We should) keep and fix the mining tax and finish the Pacific Highway much earlier."
Ms Vernon also believes the O'Farrell Coalition is neglecting infrastructure priorities.
"By selling off State assets, such as a 99-year lease on Port Botany, the State Government has cut its revenue for other projects.
"Prior to the sale of Delta Energy it had delivered around $50 million in dividends to the State Government each year.
"An upgraded Pacific Highway will quickly fill with huge trucks.
"Many locals already fear travelling on the highway and with larger trucks, it will only get worse.
"Another freight rail link and improved passenger rail make sense."
However, a 200-page report by Infrastructure NSW released in October last year long before these latest budget cuts indicate rail services from the city to the North Coast are not in the plans of Coalition Governments at any level.
Future planning could see iconic Holiday Coast XPT trains off the rails within a decade or converted to long haul buses unless they were delivered into the hands of private operators.
The same report found that upgrading the Pacific Highway offered "high cost and relatively limited benefits."
A similar 2011 report on Countrylink XPT trains showed "fatigue and corrosion issues" with neglect of the issue putting locomotives and rolling stock built for a 25-year life span up to a decade past the use-by date.
This article first appeared on www.coffscoastadvocate.com.au
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