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Reinstate the train:inquiry

By ALEX EASTON

THE NSW government should immediately introduce a Northern Rivers commuter train and start planning to extend the line to Queensland, a report to be released today recommends.

The report from the Upper House inquiry into the Government's decision to axe the Casinoto-Murwillumbah train line will be launched today at Lismore, Murwillumbah and Byron Bay by inquiry chair Jenny Gardiner.

But the report is likely to get a chilly reception from the NSW government, with Ms Gardiner last night conceding that the three Labor members of the committee voted against the recommendations.

But she said the report could also act on the government in the same way the fare-free day had in Sydney this week which in turn forced Premier Bob Carr to overrule Transport Minister Michael Costa on the issue and return the train.

"Bob Carr has admitted the rail issue could spell the end of the government, so he should step in and take up the committee's recommendations," Ms Gardiner said.

Included in the report recom- mendations are that:

n The government produce a comprehensive preservation plan for the Casino-to-Murwillumbah line, including preserving rail bridges.

n RailCorp consult with the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (DIPNR) on decisions affecting long-term transport planning.

n The government provide 12 months notice, to allow for community consultation, before clos- ing any train line in the future.

n The government immediately start a new regular commuter rail service from Casino to Murwillumbah, with commuter trains linking with the XPT at Casino.

n NSW accept the Federal government's offer of $30 million to help fund the commuter service.



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