Bring back a rail link
By BELINDA F SCOTT
RICHARD Ennis wants to see the Coffs Coast linked with a local rail service.
Mr Ennis, who lives in Nambucca and works in Coffs Harbour, spoke at last night's Coffs Harbour City Council meeting to urge the council to look at promoting and supporting such a service.
The Beach Glider is the name Mr Ennis has suggested for a local rail transport service using small, attractive trains to knit the Coffs Coast together, move cars off the Pacific Highway and promote the beauty of the region to visitors.
Mr Ennis said the North Coast rail line passed close to major locations like Coffs Harbour Jetty, airport and Coffs Harbour Education Campus, was linked to the region's towns with railway stations and travelled along a beautiful part of the coast, but was currently very under-used.
"The infrastructure is all in place and being maintained, but only used for freight and Countrylink services," Mr Ennis said.
"Not to use it is quite frankly bizarre.
"We should be looking at some of the new diesel motorised units now being built in Victoria and at Newcastle ? they are really slick new trains and they would put the Coffs Coast on the map."
Mr Ennis said he knew that the area had once had a train which took children from outlying areas to school in Coffs Harbour and he could not understand why this had been abandoned, but he now wanted to get local councils dreaming about a more sophisticated concept.
A former Sydney resident who 'seachanged' to Nambucca Heads a year ago, Mr Ennis said when he was planning to move, he used to fly up to Coffs Harbour but then had to hire a car to get to Nambucca Heads to look for accommodation.
Engineer and long-term Coffs Harbour resident Ernie Armstrong said yesterday the idea was good, but would require a 'very considerable and extensive' feasibility study.
He said this would include finding whether a local system could use the existing railway line or would require duplication of some or all sections of the line. He said signalling was also a major consideration.
Mr Armstrong said the single-track North Coast Rail Line already carried 15-25 trains daily, most of them freight trains and many so long they stretched from Coffs Creek to the Fishing Club bridge when they passed through the Jetty.
"They have to have somewhere to pass each other," he said.
There are currently seven rail crossing loops on the Coffs Coast from Nambucca Heads to Glenreagh and all are being up- graded to 1500 metres in length.