A long-running campaign to restore train services on the far north coast appears to have failed.
The Casino-to-Murwillumbah line was closed in 2004.
A State Government-commissioned feasibility study was released today, and found it would take $900-million to get the track back to a useable standard.
Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian says there is sure to be a mixed reaction.
“I think the community accepts and appreciates the infrastructure challenges of reinstating the rail line,” she said.
“The report says we need better bus networks, more frequent bus services, bus services to key locations where both visitors and local residents need to get to, and that’s certainly something we’re looking at.”
Karin Kolbe, from the rail lobby group Trains On Our Tracks, is dismissing the report.
She says the government got the result it wanted by using inappropriate figures.
“Well it’s quite an extraordinary report, it’s not at all what the community wanted,” Ms Kolbe said.
“It keeps talking about the XPT, when the community, and this is what we’ve been promised by the Nationals, (wanted) to get a commuter line running.”
The Lismore MP, Thomas George, says restoring services to the existing track would have meant some major population centres were bypassed.
“If it was reinstated along the current route, that would not service the major growth corridor in this area,” he said.
“Lismore, Ballina, Byron and through to the Tweed, that’s where the population is and that’s where the growth corridor is.
“So if we’re going to build a new transport infrastructure, that’s the area that needs to be covered.”
The Lismore Mayor says she’s disappointed but not surprised by the findings of the report.
Jenny Dowell has been a vocal campaigner for the return of a rail service.
She says there’s still a dim light at the end of the tunnel.
“They’re not looking at selling off the corridor,” Cr Dowell said.
“The recommendations are to keep the services suspended for now, to maintain the asset at a minimum standard.
“There is a recommendation to do a safety assessment of the bridges, particularly those bridges that cross the road, and look to see whether they should be removed.”
Source: ABC News