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Comments from letter writers that the ‘reasons for the discontinuation of rail services to the far north coast were largely economic’ are incorrect.
The discontinuation of the Casino to Murwillumbah service was purely political. It was what an incompetent Minister for (no) Transport could get away with.
At the time the state government also tried to discontinue the Armidale XPT service, but their local independent Member of Parliament was able to put a stop to that and they still have their train service.
The population of Armidale is not growing at the rate of the north coast and neither does it have almost two million visitors per year.
NSW rail services have been largely neglected for many decades while our governments have spent huge amounts upgrading highways and building toll roads to keep the powerful road transport lobby group, including road construction companies, happy.
Of course this would have nothing to do with the millions of dollars these corporations are able to donate to political parties.
The 2004 NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into the closure of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail service made some important recommendations.
Recommendation No. 4 states clearly: that the NSW government introduce a new, regular commuter rail service from Casino to Murwillumbah, which would connect at Casino with the XPT service from Sydney.
Recommendation No. 7 states: that the NSW government, in co-operation with the Queensland government, commission a new study to examine the viability of extending the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line to Coolangatta to link with the proposed South East Queensland railway line and upgraded Gold Coast rail services.
Had a commuter service on the Casino-Murwillumbah line been introduced in 2004, instead of allowing the line to degrade, it would have cost very little, certainly no more, and possibly less, than the uncomfortable buses people hate.
Since 2004 the number of vehicles coming across the border at Tweed Heads has increased from 42,000 per day to 67,000 currently, and are projected to increase to 115,000 per day by 2026.
Given the traffic congestion north coast towns are currently experiencing, and the emissions produced by this traffic, our local politicians need to tell us what is their plan to deal with this massive increase in traffic and reduce emissions?
It appears they are all happy to allow the Casino to Murwillumbah line to be destroyed rather demand the government provide the train services we need as recommended in 2004.
This article first appeared on www.echo.net.au
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