Community full-steam ahead for trains
The Labor Partys newest recruit, MLC Peter Breen, says he will attend the Transport Solutions Forum in Bangalow tomorrow (Friday, May 19) despite accusations from Lismore MP Thomas George that he has deserted his support for the Casino-Murwillumbah railway line to satisfy the ALP.
The reordering of the Private Members Bill supporting the re-instatement of rail service has the support of the Opposition and minor parties, yet now Peter Breen is a member of the Labor Party he refused to support his own Bill, Mr George said. It shows he places the Labor Party machine over the needs of the local community.
But Mr Breen refuted the claims, saying he would still fight to have the line re-opened despite joining the party that closed it down.
Im now in a better position, inside the Labor Party, to do something active to promote it, he said. The line is an iconic piece of local infrastructure. Im appalled that both state and federal governments dont seem to care about it. If the service was extended 20km to Coolangatta it could be one of the worlds great train trips, given our fantastic scenery.
Trains On Our Tracks (TOOT) will unveil its proposal for a 16 trains a day commuter service on the line at the transport forum, which is on at the Bangalow A&I Hall at 12.30pm.
TOOT president Karin Kolbe says 16 light rail trains a day would allow residents to travel to jobs, schools and medical appointments.
Rail is very cost effective, she said. In the recent federal budget we got $160 million towards the Pacific Highway upgrade. But for only $55 million we could maintain the rail line and run a commuter service for 20 years.
And TOOT doesnt want to stop at Murwillumbah.
Extending the Casino-Murwillumbah line to meet the south-east Queensland line at Coolangatta is the next step, Ms Kolbe said. More and more people are crossing the border daily for employment, training, shopping, medical services, sport and tourism, A coastal rail link would be a practical and environmentally sound approach, especially with the rising cost of petrol.
For more information about TOOTs proposal, see http://www.toot.org.au