Residents protesting the proposed bike path at Murwillumbah.Photo Contributed
Residents protesting the proposed bike path at Murwillumbah.Photo Contributed Contributed

Locals protest bike path, propose rail between NSW and QLD

LOCAL residents have turned out to portest the proposed bike path at Murwillumbah and call for a railway instead.

On Friday, the Northern Rivers Railway Action Group and members of TOOT came together to protest the bike path and to propose to the Federal government that they fund a rail connection between the NSW North Coast and South-east Queensland.

Beth Shelley from NRRAG said that people in both states would benefit from a commuter train to access health, employment, tourism and education facilities across the border.

"However companies such as Linfox trucking, oil and car companies have donated to the major political parties for years," Ms Shelley said.

"During this time NSW governments have increased funding for roads instead of rail.

"The Nationals in this area said for years they would reinstate the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line at little cost.

"The Arup group was commissioned by Infrastructure NSW with Chairman Nick Greiner to report on the line.

"It said it was in poor condition and would need $953 million dollars to repair."

Angie Burgler from TOOT said that in 2004 when the last train ran, the Arup group did a study for the Ewingsdale to Tintenbar Pacific Hwy upgrade.

What would you prefer for the Northern Rivers?

This poll ended on 11 April 2016.

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A railway line


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Baulderstone/Lend Lease got the contract in August 2011, only months after O'Farrell appointed Greiner as Chairman of NSW Infrastructure. Greiner is currently chairman of Baulderstone/Lend lease.

"Between 2004 till now, a large portion of Arup's studies have led to road projects that have been awarded to Lend Lease/Baulderstone/Abigroup," Ms Burgler said.

"In 10 years, more than 10 of Arup reports have resulted in contracts awarded to or benefiting a company Greiner is linked to, including Lend Lease, Abigroup, and Baulderstone.

"Arup projects also get awarded to other construction firms including John Holland, Macquarie Group, & Leighton Holdings.

"In the last 10 years since the rail has been nonoperational, Lend Lease on its own has been awarded road contracts worth well over $16 billion."

Ms Burgler said that their railway experts have estimated that repair of the Casino to Murwillumbah line would be easily less than half the $953m quoted in the ARUP study.

Given the Alice Springs to Darwin railway was constructed through some very remote country including a number of substantial bridges for under $1million per km, it should be possible to construct 30kms for $1billion which is roughly what it cost to build 17kms of freeway from Tintenbar to Ewingsdale, she said.

She said the region could have 160 kms of railway track for that price from Casino to the Gold Coast.

"Since Greiner was Premier, it appears that NSW governments have been deliberately running down, neglecting and dismantling our railway service," Ms Shelley said.

"It's up to the Federal government to do what's right for this country instead of being controlled by big business.

"People power is an effective means of making politicians take notice as shown by the CSG movement.

"If the community got behind this proposal to reinstate our train services and extend the line to Coolangata we could have great public transport.

"If you want to help, check out our facebook page, write letters to the papers or contact your local candidates for the Federal election."