As Richmond MP Justine Elliot turned the first sod of the Banora Point Pacific Highway upgrade yesterday, Trains On Our Tracks (TOOT) called on Ms Elliot to honour an election promise.
 
“TOOT would like to know how long we need to wait for Ms Elliot to deliver on her 2004 election promise to get trains running on the Casino-Murwllumbah line,” said Karin Kolbe, president of TOOT.

[Reference: National Library of Australia’s PANDORA archive of Labor’s 2004 election website. Scroll to almost the bottom
http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/22093/20041009-0000/www.alp.org.au/policy/regions/regionaltransport.html
   
“Mr Rudd is in Copenhagen trying to convince the world that Australia is serious about cutting carbon emissions, so we’d like to see the evidence that the government is serious.
 
“The Federal Government is happy to spend billions on new roads and $375 million on the Gold Coast light rail, but our rail gets nothing.
 
“The Federal Government’s own reports state that Tweed Heads will continue to be a bottleneck for decades to come.

“The Federal Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics says the coastal strip from Sydney to Brisbane is going to come under increasing pressure. It is time to move passenger and freight transport back onto the rails.
 
“Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese said in a Media Release on Monday 9th March 2009 ‘We need to encourage more people out of their cars…’. (www.minister.infrastructure.gov.au/aa/releases/2009/March/AA066_2009.htm).

“Providing a commuter rail service on the North Coast’s currently disused rail line would go a long way towards this goal.

“Over 86% of the residents in Lismore and Byron Shires live with 5km of the railway line (ABS Census 2006). So clearly the Casino-Murwillumbah line is a vital asset for tourists and residents to move around and access the resources of the area.

“Two days Queensland opened another 4.1km of rail and a new railway station at Varsity Lakes. With the extra 4.1 km of rail, 7000 car trips per day will be avoided.

[Source:  consultant’s report  by Parsons Brinkerhoff (page 9) “It is estimated that the railway extension could remove about 7,000 daily car trips in 2011 from the road network which parallels the Gold Coast to Brisbane railway line. This is equivalent to approximately 9% of the projected year 2011 Pacific Motorway volume south of Robina.”]
 
“When will this area’s transport needs be taken seriously by our politicians – including more than a third of people** who cannot use a car, and for whom a freeway is irrelevant?” asked Ms Kolbe.

(** This includes pensioners and people on low-incomes, youth, disabled, non-car owners, and over-65s).