Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon today renewed her push for the next round of federal Nation Building funding to go to re-opening the Casino-Murwillumbah passenger rail line.
“Transport Minister Anthony Albanese would bring credit to his Government if he reopened the Casino-Murwillumbah line, incorporated a local commuter service and extended the line into Queensland”, said Senator Rhiannon.
“There has been 7 years of buck-passing and dead-end studies on the Casino-Murwillumbah rail line. The decision to close the line was short sighted and must be reversed.
“Mr Albanese should stand up for his state and prioritise important rail projects such as reopening the North Coast commuter rail service and extending it into Queensland.
“People are flocking to live on the North Coast and rail should be the backbone to move this growing population. A Southern Cross University study estimates that over 90% of locals would use a commuter rail service that runs to Queensland.
“The Casino-Murwillumbah rail line serviced the Northern Rivers for 100 years and it is such a waste to leave the infrastructure to rust in the sun.
“Reopening the rail line will reduce traffic on the clogged Pacific Highway and provide transport for local commuters, for people who cannot drive such as younger people and older people and for tourists passing through.
“The O’Farrell government have backed away from their previous commitment to reopen the Casino-Murwillumbah rail line. Instead the NSW government will undertake yet another small study into North Coast rail services.
“I commend North Coast locals, such as TOOT, that have campaigned tirelessly to restore North Coast rail.
Senator Rhiannon also called for more funding to restore rural branch lines. In her speech she quoted from a government website that predicts interstate freight between Sydney and Brisbane will almost triple by 2029, with 80% of this growth expected to be carried by trucks using the Pacific Highway.
Senator Rhiannon said in parliament:”The Gillard Government's $4 billion investment in the Pacific highway so far is a marked increase on the paltry $1.3 billion invested over twelve years of the Howard government. It is a gift to the powerful truck lobby, at the expense of rail funding.