Railway restoration back on agenda
BALLINA MP and Minister for the North Coast, Don Page yesterday released a call for tenders to evaluate the costs of restoring and maintaining the 130km railway line from Casino to Murwillumbah and to look at the costs of extending the line to Coolangatta Airport for heavy or light-rail passen- ger services.
Mr Page said the State Gov- ernment was delivering on its commitment to examine broader transport options in the region, supported by a recent $2 million budget allocation.
"The NSW Government is committed to providing the right mix of transport services for customers on the North Coast. These investigations are the start of that process," Mr Page said.
Advertisements seeking tenders will appear in local newspapers next week seeking experts to evaluate the likely restoration and ongoing maintenance costs, and looking at potential connections to South East Queensland.
The tender closes in January 2012, to be awarded the following month.
The work of surveying, evalu- ating works and costs, assessing the potential for light rail or other commuter services and the potential for extension to south-east Queensland, is expected to be completed by October next year.
The successful tenderer would start in February, working with Transport NSW staff, to assess the condition of the track, bridges, level crossings, signalling and other rail infrastructure. Local councils would be consulted.
Results of the study will feed into the transport master plan being developed by the NSW Government, Mr Page said.
President of railway lobby group Trains On Our Tracks (TOOT) Karin Kolbe said yesterday she was concerned that the study was all about costs and not about a cost/benefit analysis.
"I'm glad to see some movement but disappointed that Mr Page does not add benefits into the picture, such as tourism, easing of congestion such as we see in Byron Bay, and the benefits to the environment in reduced air pollution that a re- stored rail line would bring," Ms Kolbe said.
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