Readers rail about high speed train proposal
A CALL for a high speed rail link between Grafton and Brisbane has pressed the buttons of readers on The Daily Examiner Facebook page.
It would be fair to say there are as many sceptics as supporters, but the level of interest in the concept suggests it is an idea that needs further consideration.
That is the opinion of the Member for Page Kevin Hogan who dismissed comments from the the Rail Tram and Bus Union that he and the Nationals had gone cold on high speed rail plans.
"I fully support a high speed rail link between Coffs Harbour and Brisbane,” Mr Hogan said.
"I have been and will continue to advocate for such a plan.”
The union has called for the major political parties to plan for the link which would include stops at Casino, Grafton and Coffs Harbour.
It said the service could boost local economies and would ease congestion in Brisbane by allowing commuters to travel into the city from regional areas.
Sceptics, like former Clarence Valley deputy mayor Craig Howe, thought the soon-to-be completed highway upgrade between Woolgoolga and Southeast Queensland made a rail link redundant.
But for South Grafton resident Amy Morgan said the fast train was a no-brainer that solved a problem of a lack of public transport in the region and opened up the possibility of Clarence Valley residents commuting to Brisbane for work.
Former Grafton Chamber of Commerce executive officer James Patterson said the concept needed to diverge into a series of short trains between satellite "centres” as happened in the UK.
He said fast, regular 10 times a day services between Lismore - Grafton - Coffs with local links such as Yamba to Grafton, Glen Innes to Grafton, Armidale to Coffs and Ballina to Lismore would provide a more accessible workforce, better transportation and parking, and increase tourism between centres.
The union's national secretary Bob Nanva said high speed rail would be a game changer for Northern NSW.
"A fast rail connection linking Brisbane and the Gold Coast to the Northern Rivers and North Coast - with stops at Casino, Grafton, and Coffs Harbour - would provide an enormous economic boost to the region,” he said.
"The RTBU is calling for the establishment of a $50 billion, 10-year fund to support new high speed rail links, and to fund a High Speed Rail Authority.
"A priority for the new agency should be to lock in the route, purchase the land required, and to commence planning work for construction of the project.
"A fast rail connection to Brisbane and the Gold Coast would enable many more people to live in Northern NSW and commute to the city. This would not (only) create local growth, it would also help address urban congestion.”
Mr Nanva, who was previously a member of the High Speed Rail Advisory Group, said Kevin Hogan and the National Party had left Northern NSW out in the cold by ignoring the benefits of fast, frequent passenger rail services to regional areas.
"The Nationals set the cause of high speed rail back by decades when they abolished the High Speed Rail Advisory Group and refused to fund a High Speed Rail Authority,” he said. "It's time to get high speed rail back on the national agenda.”