By DAVID MOASE
NOLA Condon loves train travel and does not want to be railroaded into using other forms of transport when she goes on holiday.
She is worried Coffs Harbour Railway Station will be downgraded to the extent that she will be forced to make trips to Sydney and Tweed Heads by plane or car more often in the future.
Buying her latest CountryLink ticket yesterday, she took the opportunity to let State member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser and Opposition transport spokesman Barry O'Farrell know how much she enjoys the North Coast rail service.
"Don't you let them close this station," was her clear instruction to the politicians, who were in the middle of a media conference called to criticise the State Government's lack of support for country rail services.
"Old people like us won't use the internet to book our tickets.
"I have a 104-year-old aunt and she doesn't even known what the internet is."
Transport Minister John Watkins has announced the axing of 82 jobs from CountryLink Travel Centres across the state.
It is not welcome news for Mrs Condon, who said she uses the rail service up to six times a year.
"I do use Virgin Blue sometimes but I like to use the train, especially when I go to Tweed Heads," she said.
"You get to enjoy the lovely scenery and the train has all the amenities.
"The staff always give very good service. I would hate to see this station close."
The Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) this week condemned the decision to cut jobs in travel centres, a move the union says will see two positions go at Coffs Harbour, as well as one of the two jobs at Macksville.
Mr O'Farrell said declining rail services were forcing more people onto the Pacific Highway and putting lives at risk.
"Over the past decade the Carr/Iemma Government has failed to invest in and effectively market country rail services to the point where CountryLink patronage has fallen by almost 20 per cent in just five years," he said.
"As rail patronage falls, more people are undertaking their journeys by car, meaning more people navigating the notorious Pacific Highway."
The loss of two positions at Coffs Harbour, Mr Fraser said, could lead to the station being downgraded and the station manager's position being made redundant.
CountryLink spokesman Scott McIntyre said it was too early to be specific about where 82 travel centre positions will be cut.
"We are still having discussions with our staff and the unions," he said.
"We will be retaining all our booking offices in country NSW although there may be different opening hours and some staff changes.
"Customers need to remember that these changes are being done to secure the future of CountryLink."