TOOT protesters (from left) Louise Doran, Dave Wenban, Karin Kolbe and Dawn Wenban in Byron Bay to highlight the absurdity of having disused rail infrastructure right next to a heavily congested road.
TOOT protesters (from left) Louise Doran, Dave Wenban, Karin Kolbe and Dawn Wenban in Byron Bay to highlight the absurdity of having disused rail infrastructure right next to a heavily congested road. Jay Cronan

Santa could slay traffic jam

IT'S a pity Santa can't fit several light rail carriages in his sack of toys and deliver them this week to the Northern Rivers.

Given the mandatory holiday season traffic woes now afflicting Byron Bay, the gift of light rail would arguably go down better than the packets of socks and underwear most of us will accept on Christmas Day.

The former would certainly be welcomed by members of public transport community lobby group Trains on Our Tracks.

Yesterday, TOOT members stood on an empty rail line intersecting with Lawson St in Byron as cars inched past them.

The TOOT members were there to point out what they see as the absurdity of having disused rail infrastructure go to waste as Byron chokes under incoming cars.

"Right next to this very congested road we have completely empty rail tracks. Many of these people driving on the road could be on small, light commuter trains," TOOT president Karin Kolbe said.

At least the constant stream of vehicles provided plenty of support to TOOT's campaign yesterday.

It was precisely because of the glacial pace at which the traffic was crawling into Byron Bay from Ewingsdale Rd that motorists had enough time to see the TOOT campaigners, read the placards, digest the message, and then respond to it with a toot.

But it's the State Government that ultimately has to respond to the problem.

Last month, Minister for the North Coast Don Page announced the Coalition would investigate the cost of restoring rail services via a private sector study.

The tender is expected to be awarded in February, and report back by October.

However Ms Kolbe said the study would not determine the real value of the region's rail services.

"There is no requirement to look at the benefits of rail services, such as reduced traffic congestion and maintenance, environmental and social benefits, just to name a few," she said.

For those wanting light rail for Christmas, it might be best to address future letters to Macquarie St, Sydney, rather than the North Pole.

  

What rail services should be restored to the Northern Rivers? Leave a comment below.



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