While I cannot agree with John Burrell's conclusions in favour of destroying the railway line on the Northern Tablelands to make way for a bicycle path (The Armidale Express, Friday, March 25), I am grateful to him for drawing attention to the 2020 Act of Parliament closing parts of the Casino to Murwillumbah line via Lismore.
The "Closures of Railway Lines in Northern Rivers" Act has had the shocking effect of severing the important centre of Lismore from the rest of the NSW railway network, more or less permanently, and has highlighted the great difficulty of reaching a compromise with the rail trail advocates.
Here in New England, they are adamant that the only way forward is to strip the rail corridor of its legal protection and to destroy the track.
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To hold this position seems to require a view of long-distance railways as just freight carriers between capital cities. Your correspondent observes that there is an existing standard gauge line along the coast from Sydney to Brisbane soon to be joined by the expensive Inland Rail Line and concludes that two is enough.
But this ignores rail as regional transport and in particular its potential for moving people and freight to and from centres on the Northern Tablelands where we are blessed with a railway line that is still a great asset as anyone who inspects it can see.
The current disagreement between supporters of the bicycle path and supporters of trains is a dispute about the future. I agree with those who see resurgent railways as the safe, efficient and environmentally preferable connector for regional New South Wales as it grows and develops. And trains will be good for tourism.
It's a positive attitude.
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