Call to restore trains dismissed

RICHMOND MP Justine Elliot may think returning train services to the Northern Rivers is a matter for the NSW Government, but it would appear her party sees things differently – in Queensland at least.

Karin Kolbe, president of local rail lobby group Trains On Our Tracks, yesterday noted the Federal Government had pitched in $742 million to help build a new passenger rail service at Redcliffe, north of Brisbane, less than a week after Ms Elliot dismissed calls to fix the NorthernRivers line as a State issue.

“Well look, I have been asked about this many times before and I have said it really is an issue for the NSW Government as they took away the train,” Ms Elliot was quoted saying in The Northern Star last week.

“I have always called upon our State National party members to lobby them to get that, and I’ll continue to call upon them to do that.”

That’s a far cry from the $150 million promised to fix the train problem that helped Ms Elliot take the seat from Larry Anthony in 2004, and from the ‘long-term’ commitment she spoke of in her first speech to Federal Parliament.

Back then, Ms Elliot was all for Federal intervention and called on the then government to offer ‘a long-term commitment ... to the restoration of our XPT train’.

“Many locals are very positive about Federal Labor’s long-term commitment to restoring the train,” she told Parliament back on December 2, 2004.

Ms Elliot was not available for comment yesterday.

However, Ms Kolbe said repairing the Northern Rivers line should have been a higher priority for the Federal Government than Redcliffe.

The Redcliffe line would look after 84,000 people, while the Northern Rivers line would cater for more than 100,000 residents and 1.4 milliontourists, she said.

Ms Kolbe said the Redcliffe spending came on top of a $375 million Federal investment in light rail on the Gold Coast.

“For years Richmond MP Justine Elliot has been telling us that passenger rail is a State issue. Clearly that rule only applies here,” Ms Kolbe said.

“Federal Labor is talking about sustainable population, but they’re allowing the Northern Rivers sustainable transport infrastructure to lie dormant.”

Page MP Janelle Saffin has also said fixing the train line was a matter for the State Government, but has stuck to that line since before she was elected to Parliament.

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