SYDNEY PROTEST: Karin Kolbe (front) joins TOOT protesters Rita and Nick Casmirri outside Parliament House in Sydney yesterday to fight rail line sell-off legislation.
SYDNEY PROTEST: Karin Kolbe (front) joins TOOT protesters Rita and Nick Casmirri outside Parliament House in Sydney yesterday to fight rail line sell-off legislation. LEA TRACEE

Train fight gathers steam

THE NSW Coalition reaffirmed its commitment to train services on the Northern Rivers as protesters gathered outside Parliament House yesterday to voice their opposition to new laws that would let the State Government sell off rail corridors.

About 100 people, including members of the Northern Rivers' Trains On Our Tracks (TOOT) group and senior Coalition MPs, rallied outside Parliament ahead of a Lower House vote on the legislation.

The new rules, which rail lobbyists hope will be defeated in the Upper House, would end an old system that required individual acts of Parliament to close train lines.

The Government has said it has no plans to sell train lines and the legislation was needed to help it create 'rail trails'- bike paths on unused rail lines.

However, TOOT president Karin Kolbe said rail trails were already in place in the Hunter region on lines not formally decommissioned.

“That demonstrates that this (legislation) is not needed, so the only remaining purpose is to sell the land,” Ms Kolbe said.

Ms Kolbe said about 100 people from a mix of community, environmental, industry and business groups turned up for the protest, along with Coalition MPs, including Nationals Leader Andrew Stoner and Liberal Leader Barry O'Farrell.

Lismore MP Thomas George, Clarence MP Steve Cansdell and Tweed MP Geoff Provest all attended the protest and slammed the legislation, with Mr George describing it as 'infrastructure vandalism'.

Mr George said he spoke to Opposition Transport spokeswoman Gladys Berejiklian yesterday, who confirmed the Coalition remained firm in its commitment to restore commuter rail services to the Northern Rivers and to extend the line to Coolangatta.



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