Coalition on track to restore train service

THE one thing people on both sides of the rail line/bike path debate can comfortably agree on is this NSW Government will never fix the Casino-Murwillumbah branch line and return trains to the track.

However, 'never' is a funny sort of word. In this case it covers about 18 months.

In 2011, NSW will return to the polls and, if current surveys are any guide, there is a reasonable chance NSW Liberal Leader Barry O'Farrell will be Premier, instead of Nathan Rees - and that would mean a dramatic change to the future of our rail line.

At this point in time, there remains a standing State Coalition promise to repair the line and put a commuter train on it.

That promise was given a lot of air in the lead-up to the 2007 NSW election, when Ballina MP Don Page was discussing using reconditioned engines and carriages, which were at the time being retired from the Newcastle line, for a commuter service on the Northern Rivers track.

In the 30 months since the last State election, it would seem likely the opportunity to use those trains and carriages has passed, but the opportunity to restore the line remains.

However, the NSW Coalition only yesterday confirmed it remained firm in its commitment to return trains to the line and extend it to Queensland, should it win the next election.

The debate over rail trails or trains on the Northern Rivers appears to have progressed, with at least some advocates of the plan to turn the track into a giant bike path working on the assumption the train line will never be restored to its former glory.

But while this NSW Government will never return trains to the line, 'never' is not necessarily as long as you might think.



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