LABOR ADMITS NO THOUGHT GIVEN TO ROAD IMPLICATIONS OF RAIL CLOSURE: THE NATIONALS

LABOR ADMITS NO THOUGHT GIVEN TO ROAD IMPLICATIONS OF RAIL CLOSURE: THE NATIONALS

LABOR ADMITS NO THOUGHT GIVEN TO ROAD IMPLICATIONS OF RAIL CLOSURE: THE NATIONALS

4 May 2004

The NSW Labor Government today admitted it has done nothing to plan for the major increase in North Coast road traffic that will flow from its decision to shut down the Casino-Murwillumbah XPT train on May 17.

Shadow Roads Minister Don Page asked Roads Minister Carl Scully in Parliament what measures have been put in place to deal with the road safety implications and extra road maintenance costs of forcing 3,000 additional bus movements a year onto North Coast roads when the train is axed.

"Labor had no answer because it hasn't considered the far-reaching consequences of closing the rail line," Mr Page, who is also The Nationals Member for Ballina, said.

"As Roads Minister, Mr Scully should be ready to implement a plan to help North Coast communities cope with the extra traffic that his Government is about to generate, but instead he today mumbled that he didn't expect there to be any major road safety implications.

"I challenge the Minister to give a guarantee that the road toll will not rise as a result of Labor's rail line closure."

Mr Page said in the first two months of this year country road fatalities had increased to 73 from 50 for the same period last year.

"Labor's own figures showed that 365 passengers patronise the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line each day. This equates to 133,000 passengers a year.

"If all of these passengers used bus services instead, there would be at least an additional 2,900 buses on the road each year," Mr Page said.

Mr Page said there had been an increase of an extra 2000 heavy vehicles a week on the Pacific Highway since 2001.

"I find it unbelievable that Labor now intends to increase the already heavy traffic flow without any strategy of dealing with the road safety implications or the extra road maintenance costs.

"What makes it even more extraordinary is that in its recent mini-budget Labor cut the country roads budget by $100 million over the next two years," Mr Page said.

"The Nationals strongly oppose Labor's closure of the Casino-Murwillumbah rail line. It is short-sighted and negligent," The Nationals Member for Lismore, Thomas George said.

Mr George said he supported Lismore City Council's decision to refuse CountryLink buses access to its Lismore Bus Transit Centre, to protest Labor's replacement of train services with buses.

"The Carr Labor Government promised a 12 month moratorium on closure of CountryLink services and it is vital that we hold them to that commitment.

"The closure of this rail line will be a huge loss to the overall infrastructure development of regional NSW," Mr George said.

Mr Page and Mr George have requested an urgent personal meeting with the Minister for Transport, Michael Costa, to discuss the rail line closure.

Lismore Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403
Email: lismore@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Murwillumbah Contact Details:

Telephone: 02 6672 7577