INDEPENDENT Candidate for Ballina, Jeff Johnson has met with local residents and long time rail advocates to discuss his vision for a commuter and tourist light rail future for the Northern Rivers, saying he does not want to see a rail trail in place of a rail system.
Mr Johnson said there were synergies between the campaign to stop the highway deviation south of Ballina and the campaign to bring our railway line back to life, and that part of the savings from using the existing highway corridor between Ballina and Broadwater could go towards fixing up the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line and extending it to Coolangatta airport.
All this could be achieved through the existing transport and roads budget, said Mr Johnson
"I am 100% against ripping up the rail line and replacing it with what is essentially an expensive bike/walking track," said Mr Johnson
"$50 million to rip up our rail line is unacceptable while the need for improved public transport grows.
"We can have a rail service and a walking/bike trail as happens in many parts of the world. I support investment in a commuter and tourist light rail service in the Northern Rivers."
Restoring our rail line and introducing a commuter rail service could be fully funded by the savings that could be achieved elsewhere in the budget, he said.
For example, he said, instead of the proposed highway deviation between Broadwater and Ballina, which cuts through Ballina's most important wildlife corridor and Aboriginal Sacred Sites, $300 million could be saved by widening the existing highway.
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