Anaiwan elders, council members, business leaders and plenty of community members gathered at the Armidale train station today in support of returning rail services from Armidale through to Tenterfield.
Rail supporters from Armidale, Guyra, Glen Innes and Tenterfield were on hand to make a show of force for support for reopening the rail line. New groups have been established recently, including the Trains Back to Tenterfield-Wallangarra Campaign (TB2T) and the Trains Back to Guyra and Glen Innes Campaign (TB2G) to help locals in those areas make their case for public transport and rail services more strongly.
Armidale Regional Councillor Debra O’Brien told the crown that the NSW Government does not believe that locals want the train back.
“There’s only one reason it’s not happening… and that’s that the New South Wales Government doesn’t believe that we want it.”
“We need to spread the word, tell everyone that we know… and put pressure on the NSW government.”
“This is really crucial infrastructure for this region,” she said.
The increased call for rail services to return has been, in part, sparked by the loss of bus services that were discontinued during the pandemic shutdowns and have not returned. Leaders talked about the desperate need for public transport services to be returned to the isolated towns north of Armidale, and how the most vulnerable in our community are the ones who need public transport.
The Renewable Energy Zone has also increased demands for freight along the Main North Line. Advocates shared different stories of things that could happen if they had rail, including a proposed solar cell recycling plant at Guyra would have its costs significantly decreased and be more viable as a project if they could use rail freight. Another proposal for a large food processing factory, to be built adjacent to the rail corridor at Llangothlin, which simply will not happen without the rail line being reopened.
Environmental impact was also raised as a strong reason to return rail transport north, with the lower carbon cost of and other efficiencies of rail, and in particular rail freight, compared with other forms of transport.
Co-convenor of the Northern Railway Defenders forum, Siri Gamage, says the group has been unable to get a meeting with the Member for the Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall to discuss the issue.