Contract derails train

By ALEX EASTON

HOPES the NSW Government would review its decision to scuttle our train service have dimmed, with RailCorp advertising a five-year contract for the CountryLink bus service.

New State Transport Minister John Watkins offered the region a glimmer of hope in late January when he promised to visit local mayors to discuss the train.

At the time said he would be 'very interested to see how the replacement coach service is going'.

However, no date for that meeting has been set and RailCorp last week called for tenders on the bus service, promising a five-year contract to the winning company.

That, said Northern Rivers Trains for the Future president Karin Kolbe, was a breach of faith by the new Minister.

"This is not a good situation to be in," Ms Kolbe said. "If there was really any good faith in this, why offer a five-year contract? Why not just offer rolling six-month contracts?"

Ms Kolbe said Northern Rivers Trains for the Future would now lobby for the tender process to be stopped and re-examined.

"It's just not fair," she said.

Tenders for the bus service close on Wednesday, March 9.

A spokeswoman for Mr Watkins pointed out that the Minister had also said in January that he had no plans to revisit the decision to scrap the train.

Mr Watkins still planned to visit the region and talk to local people about the train and replacement bus service, but the spokeswoman was unable to say when that might happen.

"We don't want to give false hopes, but at the same time we don't want people to think we don't care; because we do," she said.

"All I can say is that he has no plans to revisit the decision and is very happy to have discussions when he visits the area."



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