Majority would use train: study
NINETY per cent of surveyed Northern Rivers residents would use a Gold Coast-linked Casino to Murwillumbah rail line at least once a month, says Trains On Our Tracks president Karin Kolbe.
Referring to Southern Cross University research, Ms Kolbe said 70% would use it if it was simply restored to its former Casino, Lismore, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah service.
"I'll tell you a story," she said, at the Kingscliff Chamber of Commerce's breakfast meeting this morning.
"I asked some ladies at the bowls club in Lismore about a renewed train service and they said 'yes, I'd like to visit my grandson'.
"Then I asked them if they'd like it to go to the Gold Coast and they said 'yes, we could go bowling on the Gold Coast'."
For coastal parts of the Tweed such as Kingscliff, Ms Kolbe sees a restored rail line as "the spine of an integrated transport system."
"We'll have feeder services such as taxis, buses and of course, private cars.
"Between Lismore and Byron, 85% of residents live within 5km of the existing line," she said.
Congestion such as that into Tweed Heads across the Barney's Point Bridge each day was referred to in support of a renewed rail line.
More than 151,000 vehicles are expected to flow across the Queensland-NSW coast's border each year by 2026, according to a 2007 Department of Transport and Regional Services Sydney-Brisbane Corridor Strategy report.
Ms Kolbe asked in relation to this report, "How many places do you go where you think 'gee, I can't find a park'?"
"It's something we are all paying for on a daily basis.
"Free parking, you know it's not free - it's costing our businesses and our councils money.
"And we all know people who are not able to drive cars.
"From a social perspective, we need to be thinking about accessibility."
She said during the past 15-20 years billions had been spent on the Pacific Hwy alone, between Bangalow and Tweed.
And a 2004 PricewaterhouseCoopers report found restoring the Casino-Murwillumbah line would cost only $40 million in comparison, Ms Kolbe said.
"Why is it so cheap? Because it's already there; it needs some repairs, but it's there."
In what she admitted was an estimate, she said linking rail from Murwillumbah to Qld would cost only $200 million.
One local businessman asked if her two carriage "smart zippy" train proposal for the renewed line would carry freight.
She replied the Northern Rivers' primary freight was tourists, which would especially be catered for if rail was eventually linked to Gold Coast Airport.
A Casino-Murwillumbah rail line forum will be held at Lismore City Hall on Wednesday night from 6pm.