Letters to the editor 1st December, 2017

LINE ADVOCATE: Rob Lenehan wants the old rail line to remain.
LINE ADVOCATE: Rob Lenehan wants the old rail line to remain.

Save the Great Rail Northern Group

NSW and the Australian nation will benefit hugely from the re-establishment of a viable and efficient rail transport network including the re-use of the Great Northern rail corridor north of Armidale.

Our area of northern NSW has been sadly neglected at both state and federal government level for many years in rail and road transport needs.

With the federal government throwing $8 billion at a proposed Inland rail line linking Melbourne and Brisbane, one must question the relevance and practicality of this proposal when a corridor for the construction of a line north of Dubbo has not yet been purchased or finalised and sale of land has been met with considerable resistance from landholders. 

Surely the use of the Great Northern rail corridor could be a cost effective and viable alternative. This corridor has been in existence since 1900 and is state owned. The construction of this line in the late 1800’s involved huge and unique engineering challengers with cuttings and elevated sections built by hand with little or no mechanical machinery. If it could be done back then it can be modernised and used again for its intended use – a railway. 

Many believe freight and passenger services were ceased north of Armidale because it was no longer viable – this was not the case – it was due to poor management and a change in government policy. The former viability of train services was evident with the movement of a huge range of agricultural produce such as wool, peas, potatoes etc. and even livestock and the delivery of super-phosphate and machinery to the area. Passenger services were used by school children travelling from Ben Lomond, Llangothlin, Guyra and Black Mountain to Armidale schools on a daily basis, and of course connecting to Sydney and Queensland. How efficient was that? This can and should happen again.

The Save the Great Northern Rail Group was formed some years ago to oppose a proposal to remove the line and infrastructure for the formation of a 3.5 metre sealed section known as a Rail Trail. Our incorporated group is not against the idea of a cycle way. We vehemently oppose the destruction of the permanent way rendering the historic much loved Great Northern railway corridor useless for any futuristic use as a train line.

Rail transport is the safest and most efficient way to move freight and passengers particularly heavy goods; this is proven world-wide. The cost savings of transporting heavy goods alone on an efficient rail network would be huge for government and general business. To say it will never happen on the Great Northern line is a cop-out particularly with local federal politicians, Barnaby Joyce and Senator John Williams supporting the $8 billion inland rail link as though it was their own. 

There have been several detailed proposals prepared by expert engineers for the establishment of a rail network in northern NSW linking with existing and some new sea freight terminals, i.e. Yamba port which have been ultimately ignored by politicians for a number of years. It’s time the voting public lobbied governments at all levels to look favourably upon transport needs within the whole nation.

Locally the re-instatement of rail services on the Great Northern railway would create far greater economic and social benefit to our region than a rail trail. MP Adam Marshall has muted that a closure of the corridor north of Armidale is on his agenda, this would facilitate the ripping up of the line and destruction of the permanent way for construction of a dubious cycle way.

Recently I have received an invitation from the Department of Premier and Cabinet to a Stakeholder Consultation re – Armidale to Wallangarra Rail Corridor, this is the third attempt to hold these so-called workshops. To the best of my knowledge I am the only person to be informed of this meeting in the Guyra area, so I implore all stakeholders, (including adjoining landholders and residents, businesses and anyone concerned for the future of the corridor) to attend this meeting in Tenterfield at the local golf club on December 11 from 12-3pm and Guyra at the local bowling and recreation club from 12-3pm on December 12. Workshop sessions have a limited capacity. To register you are required to ring (02) 9228 5188 by 4 December 2017. If you are unable to attend you may provide input by emailing: regionalnsw.business@dpc.nsw.gov.au

Rob Lenehan, STGNRG Inc.

Please look after the dogs

Shoppers in Bondi Junction, Sydney, were horrified to hear a puppy crying and scratching from inside the boot of a car in a shopping centre. Thankfully, the puppy was freed in time (the RSPCA is rightly considering whether charges may be laid for this appalling neglect) but every year many dogs aren’t, and die agonising deaths in hot cars, struggling to escape, salivating heavily, often losing control of their bladders and bowels, and clawing the car windows so violently that their paws become bloodied. Whether in the boot or the back seat, please remember that dogs should never be left in parked vehicles – which turn into death traps in a matter of minutes. Even on a mild, 25 degree day, the temperature inside a car parked in the shade can soar to 38 degrees in minutes. Leaving the windows cracked (or even halfway down) and/or leaving water in the vehicle will not keep animals safe. If a dog suffers as a result of being left in a car, the maximum penalty is $5,500 and six-months in prison. And if a dog dies from being left in a car, the owner can receive a $22,000 fine and a two-year prison sentence. If you see a dog left in a car, have the car's owner paged at nearby stores or call 000 immediately and never leave until the animal is safe – their life may depend on your actions. 

Desmond Bellamy, Byron Bay