Looking to rail's future
Mr George yesterday said the community had achieved “a significant win” by forcing the government to amend a proposed new law which would have allowed corridors to be turned into so-called “rail trail” cycling tracks or sold to developers.
The amendments would include a 15-year gap between the time the last train ran and any sell-off.
But local lobby group Trains On our Tracks (TOOT) and Greens Upper House MP Lee Rhiannon both said the amendments did not go far enough. The railway remains at risk of being sold.
“A sustained community campaign culminating in a mass rally outside Parliament House last month has forced the NSW Government to amend its bill to sell off disused rail corridors to developers,” said Mr George.
“New amendments include provisions which limit the sell-off of scrap metal and sleepers; retain the requirement for Parliament to make the final decision; promise more community consultation and impose a 15-year gap between the last train and the sell-off.”
Mr George said the last provision meant the Casino-to-Murwillumbah line, which closed in 2004, was theoretic- ally safe for another 10 years.
TOOT president Karin Kolbe said Transport Minister David Campbell’s promise of protection for lines that have been disused for less than 15 years was “not good enough”.
“It will be up to Minister Campbell to decide when ‘passenger and freight services’ were last operated regularly,” she said.
Ms Kolbe said TOOT was calling on Federal representatives including Richmond Labor MP Justine Elliot to “help secure long-term protection and action on our line”.
“Justine Elliot’s first speech to Parliament mentioned the ‘Federal Labor’s long-term commitment’ to the Casino-Murwillumbah line, yet she is silent in the face of this proposed NSW legislation.”