News

Fischer backs return of rail over trail

FULL SUPPORT: Tim Fischer backs the return of rail to the Northern Rivers.
FULL SUPPORT: Tim Fischer backs the return of rail to the Northern Rivers. Peter Holt

HE IS the patron of Rail Trails NSW, but former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer has spoken out against funding a rail trail and, instead, has put his weight behind the campaign to return trains to the Northern Rivers.

Mr Fischer, a railway enthusiast, patron of Rail Trails NSW and author of the book, Trains Unlimited, has written to the Northern Rivers Railway Action Group to say that while rail trails are a positive for some locations, the Northern Rivers' community would be better served by a light rail commuter service.

"Rail trails are great in many ways and certainly boost cross-pollination of ideas and linkages but, better still in north-eastern NSW, a shuttle modern light rail between Casino and Byron Bay and Murwillumbah makes great sense," he said.

Returning a rail service to Northern NSW, Mr Fischer said, "was essential to the core transport fabric of an increasingly congested part of NSW, adjoining as it does the Gold Coast."

Mr Fischer told The Northern Star that, had the cancelled XPT service been replaced with a light rail commuter service a decade ago, the service "would be booming by now".

Meanwhile, members of local pro-train group TOOT (Trains On Our Tracks) are agitating for the "true" costs of a Northern Rivers rail trail to be revealed following the NSW government's feasibility study.

"Summary figures show the study underestimates costs, overestimates benefits and fails to acknowledge impacts," TOOT spokesman Basil Cameron said.

"Diversion of over $70 million in taxpayer funds when the need for public transport is so desperate in the Northern Rivers is short-sighted and likely to burden communities with additional costs and impacts for years to come."

Mr Cameron, a Byron Shire councillor, said his shire would bear the costs of increased tourism created by a rail trial.

"Byron Shire is set to wear the initial wave of impacts as the additional tourists will add to traffic congestion due to lack of public transport," he said.

"Rail provides a broad range of benefits to many groups in the community.

"By comparison, benefits from a rail trail go almost entirely to a few businesses, yet it is the public who will have to pay for it."




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

See the bull that stole Beef Week

NO BULL: Triple M Knockout, the 968kg Red Angus bull of the Rukenvale Triple M stud, won the Beef Week supreme exhibit award, alongside his proud owners Craig and Renae Gapes.

Prize bull takes judges breath away.

Teen goes on stolen credit card spending spree in Ballina

A 17-year-old has been charged with eight counts of fraud.

PHOTOS: Bulls, axes, hot rods and more at Beef Week Saturday

WHIP IT: Beef Week Queen entrant Alice Magner with Zac Simeoni, 6, one of the winners of the junior Jackaroo competition at Beef Week Saturday. Zac also took out the under-sevens whip cracking competition. "He was stoked," dad Andrew said.

Check out some of the highlights of Beef Week Saturday 2016.

Latest deals and offers

Lismore real estate agent celebrates 100th birthday

LJ Hooker Lismore principal Paul Deegan is the third generation to operate the 100-year-old family business.

A Lismore real estate is celebrating 100 years in business.

Coastal development keeps young people on Northern Rivers

Wes Bale is a 27-year-old born and bred Lennox Head local who is an example of the demographic shift in the region.

Young Northern Rivers residents are looking closer to home