Supporters of reopening the railway line north of Armidale met in Glen Innes on Monday.
A hundred people attended the event at Glen Innes Services Club organised by Northern Railway Defenders Forum.
Convenor Siri Gamage said since train services stopped in the late 1980s on this segment of the line, most residents had lost hope about the prospect of the state government committing funds to restore train services.
"Many myths have also been created in the minds of residents e.g. it will cost billions to rebuild, there are not enough passengers. Combatting such myths with facts is a challenge that NRTF has undertaken," he said.
A cross section of the community, including business people, farmers, the disabled and elderly attended, and the mood was clear as speakers in favour of restoring trains received rousing applause. Glen Innes Mayor Rob Banham and councillors also attended.
Armidale engineer Matthew Tierney recounted the history of the Main North Line.
The service to the Queensland border started in 1888. But the meeting heard this infrastructure has languished for 30 years after the rail service ceased in the late 1980s.
Mr Tierney said the established corridor and track North of Armidale would cost little to restore when compared to the Inland Rail budget of $18 billion.
Angus Witherby, a geographer and economist, made the business case for the Great Northern Railway.
"Passengers are nice but freight pays the bills," he said.
He said that in the coming decade freight would increase 30 per cent. Relative to rail, roads are not cheap.
It costs $270 million to strengthen the Armidale to Moree road for trucks.
This railway would also be a reliable alternative to flood prone coastal and inland rail, he said.
Mr Gamage called for a NSW government inquiry into the feasibility of restoring the line with accurate costings and extensive community consultation.
He urged the public to lobby their representatives.
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