News

TOOT renews calls for commuter train after poll

Trains on our tracks spokeswoman Karin Kolbe.
Trains on our tracks spokeswoman Karin Kolbe. Jacklyn Wagner

RAIL lobby group Trains On Our Tracks has renewed its push for the return of commuter train services on the Northern Rivers after a reader's poll on Star's website suggested there remained overwhelming support for the train.

The poll, which was posted with a story about Ballina MP Don Page tabling a petition arguing for a tourism-oriented "rail trail" on the Northern Rivers, gathered more than 500 responses.

TOOT calls on coalition to keep promise on train

Ballina MP hits back and says rail trail has community support

About 70% of those responses - 364 to be precise - backed the return of commuter train services over a rail trail. Most of those (39% of the total) wanted a train put back on the line as soon as possible while 31% said they wanted a commuter train service, but only if the line were extended to Murwillumbah.

By comparison, only 153 of the respondents (about 29%) said they would prefer a rail trail.

The poll is not scientifically accurate and cannot be assumed to be a reliable indicator of feeling about the train across the Northern Rivers community.

However, its results are broadly consistent with a 2007 survey done through Southern Cross University, in which about 70% of respondents said they would catch a commuter train running between Casino and Murwillumbah at least once a month and 90% said they would catch it that regularly if the line were extended to Queensland.

The new surge of interest in the train comes as the region approaches the 10th anniversary of the axing of XPT services on the line by then Transport Minister Michael Costa.

TOOT calls on coalition to keep promise on train

Referring to the poll, TOOT spokeswoman Karin Kolbe called on the State Government to act on its election commitments and return commuter rail services to the Northern Rivers and attacked a report released last year that estimated the track would cost $900m to repair.

"The land up here is very valuable - we strongly suspect that that's the real reason: that the government wants to rip up the tracks and sell the stations and corridor," Ms Kolbe said in a statement.

"The government's so-called Feasibility study last year ignored the option of light-rail. The report unnecessarily added in the costs associated with the XPT to make the costs higher than needed.

"The report didn't include tourists in the passenger numbers.

"The report totally ignored all environmental issues.

"The report deliberately inflated the costs and ignored any benefits to justify a policy backflip.

"Rail and bikes can work together safely in the same corridor - like in Victoria - to create a true transport system for all.

"We call on the NSW govt to show vision and leadership in creating real transport options. And to honour their commitments to rail transport in this region."

Ballina MP Don Page and then Ballina Labor candidate Sue Dakin united in their desire to return the train in 2004.
Ballina MP Don Page and then Ballina Labor candidate Sue Dakin united in their desire to return the train in 2004.

Ballina MP hits back and says rail trail has community support

Ballina MP and Minister for the North Coast Don Page said the coalition had met its election commitment regarding the train and said he believed there was strong support on the Northern Rivers for a rail trail.

The coalition, then in opposition, had committed to returning the train in the lead-up to the 2007 election, but Ballina MP and now Minister for the North Coast Don Page pointed out that by the 2011 poll the coalition was committing only to a feasibility study.

The most recent coalition commitment to return the train, reported by The Northern Star, dates back to July 2010, when Mr Page made the commitment at a local rail forum.

Mr Page said it would have been not long after that the coalition received advice the line had become so badly degraded it might not be able to fix it.

"Because of white ants in the sleepers and bridges we got advice it would be extremely expensive to put (the train back) on," Mr Page said.

Mr Page defended the integrity of the State Government report on the train, but said people who questioned the $900m repair bill were missing the key problem raised in it.

"Regardless of whether you want to argue the costs, the more important point was the study's conclusion that, no matter how many trains you put on, it wouldn't service the region because it didn't service two of our largest towns - Tweed Heads and Ballina," Mr Page said.

Mr Page said he believed there was strong support for a rail trail across the region that was not reflected in the web-poll.

"There's a lot more support than the 1400 people who signed the petition," he said. "Northern Rivers Rail Trail has thousands of people on its information system who are supporting a rail trail."

Topics:  casino to murwillumbah rail trail, casino to murwillumbah railway link, don page, trains on our tracks




Is this the start of our Rural Renaissance?

Exports to the US have dropped 40%, China 30% and Japan 10%. China and Saudi Arabia have once more open their doors to Brazilian beef while Indonesia is now looking to Indian buffalo meat to boost its supplies

Rising prices the talk of the town as rain raises farmers’ spirits

Lismore picked to host world-class daredevil show in 2017

Oakes Oval in Lismore will host the sell-out, worldwide phenomenon that is Nitro Circus Live during its 15-city Australian tour in April.

Big boost to local business and big news for BMX fans

Do you think you have the cutest baby on the Northern Rivers?

Dad Tim Sherwin with his 3 year old son Levi Sherwin, who has been entered in the Baby Show.

Comp judges cutest baby, happiest baby and baby with longest lashes

Latest deals and offers

Tom Hiddleston's Instagram account hacked

Actor Tom Hiddleston

Thor star the latest celebrity targetted by hackers

Charlize Theron's son dresses up as Frozen character

Actor Charlize Theron

Star's son spotted dressed a beloved Frozen character

BOOKS: Food for thought in Caroline Beecham's latest novel

Maggie's Kitchen by Caroline Beecham is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

New novel reminds readers that bravery exists in many forms

TELEVISION: New show is a Survivor, for now

Jonathan LaPaglia hosts the TV series Australian Survivor.

WHAT happens when a new show with a big budget flops?

Rachel Weisz understands celebrity gossip fascination

Actor Rachel Weisz

Weisz says mystery is good for an actor

Gina Rodriguez relished dramatic change for new film

Jane the Virgin lead Gina Rodriguez

TV star shaved her hair for movie role

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m