IMAGINE living in Casino or Grafton but earning the higher wages of Brisbane or even Sydney because you were able to commute to work.
That possibility was brought a small step closer yesterday with the unveiling of the Federal Government's plans to build a high-speed rail (HSR) system between Melbourne and Brisbane.
Federal MP Janelle Saffin said stations at Casino and Grafton in the Northern Rivers and Coffs Harbour on the Mid-North Coast would be on the route taken.
"This is great for the regional towns and it's great for Casino," she said.
"While it won't be finished until 2058 you have to think of our kids and grand-kids who will get to use it."
Ms Saffin said it was about choice and getting cars off the road.
"While the dual carriageway on the Pacific Highway will be completed, there will continue to be more cars using it," she said.
Ms Saffin said the study estimated about 84 million passengers a year will use the HSR, equating to a lot of cars off the road.
"Population projections show that by 2054 there will be a large increase of people living in regional areas," she said.
Tourism and industry in the Northern Rivers will also benefit with the introduction of the HSR.
"There will be a huge boost for domestic and international tourism," Ms Saffin said.
"For every dollar of investment, modelling has shown us there will be a $2.30 return to the econ- omy."
Ticket pricing will also be affordable for the average commuter.
"We are not going to price the tickets out of people's budgets," she said.
"This isn't luxury travelling like The Ghan.
"It will be carrying passengers so we will need to make it affordable."
Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell will be one of six members of the High Speed Rail Advisory Group panel.
"I am delighted that this region has a voice at the table," she said.
Plans for the HSR are open for public comment and the full report and feedback forms are available at infrastructure.gov.au/hsr.
At a glance
- Airline-type seating, full catering and internet wireless
- Reaching speeds up to 350kmh
- Per passenger HSR emit less carbon emissions than a car or plane.
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