Train late, protest plan foiled
By CLEO SRIBER
ALL aboard the XPT for the 'Save CountryLink' campaign!
NSW Greens MP Lee Rhiannon launched the campaign yesterday in a bid to reverse the State Government's planned cutbacks to regional rail services.
A recent announcement by Transport Minister John Watkins that CountryLink fares will rise, 100 jobs will go and ticket offices will close, spurred the campaign.
"Labor's plan to close ticket offices and increase fares will be a devastating blow to CountryLink services," Ms Rhiannon said.
Distributing leaflets and collecting signatures for petitions on the daily XPT, Ms Rhiannon was to board the Brisbane service at Coffs Harbour Station and travel south to Urunga Station.
Unfortunately her plans were foiled when it was announced that the train was one hour late.
"Today shows why people don't use the service," Ms Rhiannon said.
"It sends a bad message to people."
She said the Greens were committed to reversing Labor's cutbacks to rural rail services, adding that reductions to the CountryLink rail service would be a further blow for regional NSW and that there would be a negative impact on jobs and regional tourism.
"Instead of increasing prices, scrapping 100 jobs and closing ticket offices CountryLink should be expanded to include commuter services to nearby towns and high speed trains throughout regional NSW," she said.
Ms Rhiannon said that Minister for Infrastructure Michael Costa had said that he would return the Casino/Murwillumbah line if it made a profit.
"You can't make profit out of public transport," she said.
"It's time the Government stepped in and found solutions to this problem."