Mixed response to train changes

The NSW Government has been forced to make some amendments to the bill that would allow it to sell disused rail lines after pressure from local community groups.

Lismore MP Thomas George described it as “a significant win for the local community”.

“The new amendments include provisions which limit the sell-off of scrap metal and sleepers; retain the requirement for Parliament to make the final decision; promise more community consultation and impose a 15-year gap between the last train running and the sell-off,” Mr George said.

He said that meant the Casino to Murwillumbah line should be safe for another 10 years.

However TOOT president Karen Kolbe said it would still give the Transport Minister “sweeping powers to decide the fate of our rail line, including the power to have the tracks removed and leasing the land for 99 years or more.”

“The Minister’s promise of protection for lines that have been disused for less than 15 years is not good enough. It will be up to Minister Campbell to decide when ‘passenger and freight services’ were last ‘operated regularly’. “Neither the government or the Minister have adequately explained why the legislation is necessary at all – we call for the whole thing to be scrapped," she said.

“With this legislation, 45 of the 58 NSW lines could have tracks, signals and stations removed, and leased out. The strength of the entire network is diminished every time a piece is removed."


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