Funds may extend line: Rail lobbyists

By ALEX EASTON

ANY money left over from Federal promises to fund the Murwillumbah train line should be used to extend the line to Queensland, Northern Rivers Trains for the Future has said. Group spokeswoman Karin Kolbe yesterday said she was not surprised by claims the State Government had overestimated the cost of repairing the Northern Rivers train line by more than $150 million dollars. The Northern Star yesterday reported a study by Pricewaterhouse Coopers had found it would cost only $25 million over six years to repair the line; not $188 million as previously claimed by the State Government. Federal Labor transport spokesman Martin Ferguson, who recently promised a Labor Federal government would pump $150 million over 10 years into the line, responded to the news by saying any left-over funds would be used on the Pacific Highway. The agreement between Federal and State Labor was for an extra $15 million per year to go to the Pacific Highway, which would let the State Government spend the funds needed to keep the local branch line open, he said. Ms Kolbe said any left-over funds should be used to link the line to Queensland. "That's a Federal responsibility ? to get the big infrastructure and big linkages in place, especially when it's across State boundaries," she said. Ms Kolbe said a new group, paid or volunteer, would have to be formed to monitor the line and raise the alarm when ongoing maintenance was being neglected.



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