Rail options for North Coast commuters were noticeably absent from the Far North Coast Regional Strategy released last week by NSW Planning Minister Frank Sartor. And no one is more outraged than Karin Kolbe, president of TOOT (Trains on Our Tracks).
The strategy briefly mentions the Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor, stating it will be protected but Karin said the fact no mention is made of actually utilising the rail line is completely insufficient.
This plan is a disaster for the Far North Coast as it provides for extensive population and employment growth without any new transport infrastructure to cater to this growth over the 25-year life of the plan, she said. It is astounding that in 2007, with so many people recognising the need for sustainable transport solutions, that a strategy would be developed that is not based upon an integrated transport plan.
The strategy does mention the importance of roads, that approximately 75 per cent of all journeys within the region are by car, and that 20 million tonnes of freight is moved within and through the region each year.
Of course we use the roads because there is no other way to get around, said Karin. Anyone who uses the Lismore to Bangalow road knows it is at its capacity and there are too many trucks on it.
The strategys mention of introducing cycleways also angers Karin.
How can you put a bike on a bus? Sure you can cycle around your own town but we need to be able to move between towns. And the buses that replace the trains are a joke as they dont link with other services and they run at silly times.
NSW Greens MP Ian Cohen was also disappointed with the lack of rail plans in the Far North Coast Regional Strategy.
It is all very well to talk in platitudes about keeping the Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor open as a possible future option, he said. Or to make nice noises about maybe investigating the possibility of a link with the Gold Coast, but these are not plans. They are meaningless statements that dont commit the government to any rail service for the North Coast whatsoever.
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