Don PageMember for Ballina- State Matters

Casino to Mbah rail line

NSW Minister for Transport John Watkins has recently been spreading misinformation that the NSW Liberal/Nationals Coalition would only spend $4 million on putting trains back on the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line. This is untrue and deliberately misleading.

The $4 million is an annual maintenance cost as identified by the Price Waterhouse Coopers report published in September 2004. The Labor Government was spending $2.5 million per annum on maintaining the line when the XPT ran.

The Coalition believes this $4 million annual maintenance figure to be accurate but we would need to spend around $10 million initially to make the line safe as it has been affected by white ants and erosion since the Labor Government cut train services over two years ago.

The NSW Coalition would put commuter services on the line, some of which would connect to the existing Casino to Sydney XPT services.

When the NSW Government says it will cost $150 million to make the line safe, they are talking about replacing every timber bridge on the line (151). This is not necessary as the Price Waterhouse Coopers report clearly shows.

The fact is commuter services can be put on the line for the $75 million the NSW Government says it is prepared to spend.

CountryLink pensioner booking fee

In March this year, the NSW Government introduced a booking fee for pensioners using their Pensioner Travel Vouchers for travel on CountryLink services.

The new fee is equal to 15 per cent of the equivalent full adult fare or a minimum of $10 (whichever is greater) and is charged for each voucher used for the journey undertaken.

As a result of this unfair fee, the number of pensioners using CountryLink services has fallen by 20 per cent while raising more than $1 million in its first three months of operation.

In addition, during the four months between March and July, the number of pensioners using their Pensioner Travel Vouchers has fallen by 36,000 compared with the same period last year.

This booking fee has made train travel simply unaffordable for many pensioners and a Liberal/Nationals Government is committed to abolishing the measure by scrapping the booking fee to encourage people to travel by rail and help revive regional train services.

Office contacts

Phone: 6686 7522

Fax: 6686 7470

Address: PO Box 1018, Ballina, NSW, 2478

Email: Don.Page@parliament.nsw.gov.au


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