Eltham railway bridge.
Eltham railway bridge. Jerad Williams

Trains, potholes, not the highway

A SUSTAINABLE, efficient interstate railway service is what Northern Rivers residents want.

That was the message put forward at a transport forum organised by NSW Transport in Lismore on Wednesday night.

State MPs Thomas George, Don Page and Chris Gulaptis attended the public forum alongside MLC Duncan Gay.

The audience - comprised of local councillors, Trains On Our Tracks (TOOT) members, farmers, business people and residents - was divided into groups, which discussed the transport outcomes they would like for the region.

The age-old suggestion for reinstating and expanding a railway system in the Northern Rivers received overwhelming support.

Groups asked for a focus on freight and commuter rail, maintaining current rail infrastructure and affordability.

Ballina MP and Minister for the North Coast Don Page reiterated the promise of a feasibility study into reinstating the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line.

It was announced yesterday that Tim Poole, former project director of the Gold Coast Rapid Transit Project would lead the feasibility study.

After some earlier criticism about what the study would achieve, Mr Page said the study had been tweaked to assess the benefits and costs of reinstating the train.

The study will also look at linking the railway system to south-east Queensland.

Improving rural road networks, which are the first to suffer potholes and damage during heavy rain, was also a focus.

A local farmer said the road networks needed to be viable if they wanted the "heartland of NSW" and agriculture to grow.

A suggestion for a low-carbon transport system that was reflected in local energy policies was met with applause.

Surprisingly, the Pacific Hwy Upgrade received minimal attention.

Mr Gay told The Northern Star that the 2016 completion date was "under pressure."

The feedback will be considered before a NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan is released in late November.