Restoring rural rail branch lines in NSW should be a transport funding priority for the federal government, said Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon in the Senate this week.
“Federal funding is desperately needed to restore NSW rural branch lines that were closed down by the NSW government” said Senator Rhiannon.
"The long term benefits to the state from re-opening grain rail lines are enormous, from protecting rural communities from rising petrol prices, improving road safety, reducing road maintenance costs on regional councils and securing the future food security of NSW.
“Federal transport funding under the Gillard Government has reached a record $12 billion for NSW, but is heavily skewed in favour of roads, with a few piecemeal rail freight projects along the coast.
“Transport Minister Anthony Albanese needs to play a more active role to secure funding for rural branch lines in NSW.
“The Federal government has largely ignored rural branch lines to date and successive NSW governments have proved themselves incapable of standing up for rural rail.
“The result has been a threefold increase in B-double trucks thundering down our roads in the last decade while rural branch lines lay in ruinous neglect each harvest season.
“It hurts regional communities whose councils have to bear the financial burden of repairing the roads, and whose roads have become much more dangerous.
“Our future food security now depends on truck transport. Consumers will pay for rising petrol costs in the price they pay for fresh food at the cash registers, as dwindling oil supplies will drive up petrol prices.
“Communities throughout NSW have had enough of trucks thundering through their towns.
“For too long, successive governments have been slaves to the truck industry with disastrous results for the environment, excessive working hours for truck drivers and road safety,” said Senator Rhiannon.
A copy of Senator Rhiannon’s speech is here.