Toot blows whistle on inaction to reopen line

RETURNING trains to the Casino to Muwillumbah rail line seems to be at the bottom of the State Government's list of priorities, according to the community action group still fighting to revive the service.

Trains On Our Tracks (TOOT) president Karin Kolbe said she was currently writing a submission to Infrastructure Australia to push for the rail service, which ceased in May, 2004.

“We are not walking away from our efforts to have the rail line up and running. We have the big picture to think about,” Ms Kolbe said.

“This submission will highlight the reasons why tourists and locals need this rail line.”

With rising fuel prices, a growing population and recent declines in tourism numbers, Ms Kolbe said TOOT was also calling on the Federal and State governments to immediately begin planning for the construction of the 22km of rail line required to link Murwillumbah with Coolangatta Airport.

State Ballina MP Don Page said the Federal Government was neglecting funding for regional projects.

“The Casino to Murwillumbah rail line upgrade did not get a mention in the recent submission made by the NSW Government to Infrastructure Australia, yet connecting this Far North Coast area with South-East Queensland by rail should also be a priority,” he said.

“If the State Labor Government was serious about improving the transport infrastructure of NSW it would make the Pacific Highway and the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line priorities.”

Mr Page said it was disappointing to see the Government pouring billions of dollars into more Sydney infrastructure, while regional infrastructure continued to deteriorate and disappear after 13 years of Labor.

Ms Kolbe said TOOT would remain dedicated to getting the rail services back. “We are hoping this submission to Infrastructure Australia will push again for our region to be noticed,” she said.

Meanwhile, a motorist using the Coopers Shoot rail crossing contacted The Northern Star concerned a death knell had been sounded on the rail service because a fresh coat of tar had been laid at the crossing. However, the tar has not been poured over the actual tracks.

Queensland is currently extending its Brisbane-Gold Coast line to Coolangatta.

“We have the♠big picture to think about.”

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