Greens won't rip up Northern Rivers railways

THE Greens have called for a halt in plans to rip up train tracks throughout the Northern Rivers to be replaced with a rail trail.

Ballina MP Tamara Smith told NSW Parliament there was no reason the community should have to choose between functioning rail and a walking or cycling track.

"The Greens do not oppose a tourist bike trail running alongside the rail corridor, given the new opportunities for tourism and recreation that a multi-modal rail corridor would bring," she said.

"To rip up an important piece of community infrastructure, particularly when there is no real plan to invest in a public transport strategy for the next 50 years in our region, is a retrograde step."

The 132km trail is intended to run from Casino to Murwillumbah in an effort to draw tourism money inland.

Proponents of the scheme foresee local entrepreneurs developing their own small businesses along the route to cash in on new visitors.

But Ms Smith said the plan's expression of interest documentation did not discuss the possibility of maintaining existing rail lines.

"There is no mention of the use of the rail line for commuter or public transport services despite many local people wanting just that," she said.

"The existing corridor runs from Byron Bay to major tourism sites and towns.

"From a tourism perspective, restoring a rail service makes significant economic sense for our region; it would provide transport for visitors and for local people travelling to jobs."

-APN NEWSDESK



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