Rail bill changes not enough: MP

LISMORE MP Thomas George welcomed a series of concessions in a controversial Bill that would let the State Government declare rail lines ‘disused’, but says neither he nor his Coalition colleagues are yet prepared to vote for it.

The State Government has released a series of amendments on the Rail Trails Bill that would prevent a government from declaring the line ‘disused’ for 15 years after trains last ran regularly on it and then would let it sell only scrap metal and sleepers from the line.

The amendments would mean an Act of Parliament would still be needed to close a line and let a rail corridor be sold and would require governments to do more consultation before acting.

However, Mr George yesterday said the Bill still focused too much power in the hands of a single minister and the Coalition would vote against it.

That position was backed by the president of rail lobby group Trains on Our Tracks (TOOT), Karin Kolbe, who said selling rails and sleepers effectively closed a line.

Ms Kolbe questioned whether the 15-year rule would provide any stay of execution for the Northern Rivers line.

“It will be up to Minister Campbell to decide when ‘passenger and freight services’ were last ‘operated regularly’,” she said.

“This may be earlier than when the last train ran and as ‘the period’ can start before the Bill becomes law, it is clear that it amounts to very little protection for our line and the corridor.”



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