Egan declares train service coffers empty
By MEGAN KINNINMENT
NSW TREASURER Michael Egan was not returning The Northern Star's calls yesterday after declaring on Wednesday there was not enough money in the coffers to bring back the XPT.
However, the region's mayors are not backing down in their fight to reinstate the rail service.
Mr Egan told a press conference on Wednesday that the capital cost required to upgrade the track was too high at $180 million over 20 years.
However, a Federally-funded feasibility study by consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCooper has estimated the cost at $25 million.
Yesterday, Lismore mayor Merv King said Mr Egan had got it wrong with the $180 million
"That's been the Government's figure all along, but that would make the line first class, the best in NSW, it's unrealistic," he said.
"We just want the line to be back and to have a commuter service up and running that would link into the Casino XPT."
Cr King said he would join Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham's push for the region's mayors to travel to Sydney to meet with Transport Minister Michael Costa if it could help.
Cr Barham said that Mr Egan's comments offered little hope.
"If the Treasurer starts saying he doesn't have the funds when we are in the middle of talks about a regional transport strategy (with the State and Federal governments), it comes as a shock," she said.
"You start to think, why are we bothering with these talks in the first place?"
Kyogle mayor Ernie Bennett said he also had been 'shocked' by the Treasurer's comments.
"I am so shocked by the arrogance of this Government," Mr Bennett said. "It's all about money for them, not people.
"They are prepared to spend billions of dollars on City Rail, but nothing on us."