Call for Minister to visit Casino to see train fiasco

By MEGAN KINNINMENT

TRAIN lobbyist Karin Kolbe has challenged NSW Transport Minister John Watkins to visit Casino and witness the chaos caused by coaches replacing the XPT.

Ms Kolbe, president of the Northern Rivers Trains for the Future lobby group, wants the Minister to consider a commuter train service for the area, instead of the coaches 'pretending to be trains'.

"I've been out to Casino station and seen people already disadvantaged, the elderly and disabled, struggling to get on the coaches," Ms Kolbe said.

"I met one elderly lady who had fallen and injured her arm, while some elderly people are physically unable to use a coach at all, so they are left marooned."

Many of the coaches are running empty, with passengers turned off public transport by the inconvenience, Ms Kolbe said.

"Fracturing up the journey, by swapping from one mode of transport to another, is a huge disincentive for many people to use public transport," Ms Kolbe said.

At the Casino railway sta- tion on Wednesday night, Raj Womisch, of Coffs Harbour, also criticised the XPT replacement.

"Changing over to a bus makes it confusing for everyone," Ms Womisch said.

"Getting off the train and on to a bus is a nuisance. It would be so much easier to stay on the train all the way through."

Mr Watkins has yet to announce the date for his visit to the Northern Rivers to assess the train situation.

The Northern Rivers Trains for the Future group met last night to formulate its campaign direction for 2005.

"We're not going away, we won't be silenced," Ms Kolbe vowed.



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