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FORTY-FIVE rail lines across NSW, including two in metropolitan Sydney, have been earmarked as ''non-operational'', leaving them open to being ripped up and redeveloped under controversial legislation before Parliament.
The list of vulnerable lines is contained in answers to questions on notice, asked during State Parliament estimates committee hearings in September and released late last week.
It includes rail lines in key growth areas such as the Central Coast, Newcastle and the far North Coast.
The list also includes a line between Loftus in Sydney's southern suburbs and the Royal National Park, which is used by the non-profit Sydney Tramway Museum to run vintage trams.
The original legislation ignited a firestorm of protest across the state after the Herald revealed that it would allow the Government to rip up any rail line and sell the corridor to developers. The Government claimed its legislation would simply allow it to turn unused rail lines into biking, hiking or horseriding trails.
The Minister for Transport, David Campbell, has since announced amendments to the bill that would allow the Government to lease, rather than sell, the rail corridors, and would mean ''no changes to a disused line could occur until 15 years after services on the line ceased''.
But of the 58 lines that the Govern ment classifies as ''non-operational'', 45 have been out of use since 1994 or earlier, making them possible targets.
In an email, the minister's office confirmed that, even with the amendments, which the Government is yet to make public, ''remaining infrastructure, such as old sleepers and tracks'' will still be able to be removed. Last night, Mr Campbell's spokeswoman insisted: ''There will be no changes to any lines unless the community agrees.''
But community groups and the Opposition have promised to fight the bill, even in its amended form. The Opposition's transport spokeswoman, Gladys Berejiklian, the Nationals leader in the upper house, Duncan Gay, and the Greens MP Lee Rhiannon all said they continued to oppose the legislation, which the Government wants to pass next week.
Sydney Morning Herald
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