PLANS are on track to put rail services back on the Casino to Murwillumbah line and extend it to the Gold Coast so Byron, Lismore and Casino residents can go by train to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, says a North Coast MP.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest yesterday rejected claims by Byron's Deputy Mayor Basil Cameron that a State Government decision to develop state and regional transport plans would delay the return of services to the line by years.
He said a separate feasibility study on returning the rail services and extending the rail line to Coolangatta is steaming ahead and is likely to be completed by late this year.
His Lismore colleague Thomas George also rejected Cr Cameron's claims.
Mr Provest said he was told "10 days ago" tenders would soon be awarded for the $2 million feasibility study, promised in last year's election campaign.
He said it would identify the feasibility of services plus a route for the extension to the Gold Coast and "give us a proposition to take to Infrastructure NSW or the Federal Government".
"There is some urgency because the Gold Coast has won the 2018 Commonwealth Games," he added.
"We have got to be in a position to take advantage of that."
Mr George said the state plan had to be done first but believed both that and regional plans would not take more than a year.
"I know everybody wants everything done yesterday," he said, adding that interested residents should attend a forum on the transport plans in Lismore City Hall from 6pm next Wednesday.
However president of the Trains On Our Tracks (TOOT) lobby group Karin Kolbe warned the plans could amount to red tape that would strangle moves to return passenger services.
"They are setting up bureaucratic hurdles," Ms Kolbe said.
"It's a process that's designed to fail."
Ms Kolbe said people had to register online or by phone by today to attend next Wednesday's forum but it had been little advertised.