Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

More than 10,000 New Englanders have signed a petition to NSW Legislative Assembly seeking the restoration of passenger train services between Armidale and Wallangarra.

Trains North will hold a public meeting at the Armidale Railway Station this morning, Friday 20th October at 11.00am, to celebrate the completion of the petition and the handover to local MP Adam Marshall to take to parliament on their behalf. All are welcome to attend.

The petition states that ’the citizens of New South Wales bring to the attention of the house the great level of community support for the reintroduction of passenger train services on the Great Northern railway between Armidale and Jennings/Wallangarra’. They ‘ask the Legislative Assembly to make available, passenger train services’ between the two locations.

This petition highlights the greater need in regional NSW for better public transport not only to cater to the transport needs of those who cannot access a car or bus such as vulnerable groups like elderly, sick, isolated, unemployed but also to unleash future growth in regions like New England with better connectivity.

The Trains North (formerly Northern railway Defenders Forum) group is a community organisation campaigning to restore passenger, freight and heritage train services to the area, and has been pitted against supporters for rail trail tourist attractions to be built on the currently unused rail lines for some years.

“At a time when the federal government is striving to put in place greenhouse mitigation measures including in the transport sector, NSW government’s policy of supporting local councils to remove regional rail infrastructure to construct recreational facilities like bike tracks do not make sense,” said Siri Gamage from Trains North. A

“As New England has been declared as a Renewable energy Zone (REZ) and many wind, solar and hydro projects are being introduced as State Significant infrastructure projects, NSW government needs to revisit the Transport Administration Amendment Act (rail trail) 2022 and initiate a parliamentary inquiry about the wisdom of continuing with the rail trail policy.”

Supporters of rail in New England are expected to gather with Councillors of Armidale Regional and Glen Innes Severn Councils and other dignitaries at the event today. In the afternoon, the original petition will be handed to Mr. Adam Marshall, MP for Northern Tablelands to be taken to the NSW parliament. The organisation expects the lower house of the NSW Parliament to hold a debate on the subject in due course.

“We think this petition and corresponding public event is a landmark one in relation to community efforts to draw the attention of local councils and NSW government about the poor public transport options available to residents living north of Armidale,” Mr Gamage said. 

“Northern railway line has been ignored for over three decades by successive governments. We believe that the line which is built on higher grounds ought to be restored by the NSW government with or without private investments for better connectivity across the regions and states.”

“We hope the NSW parliament will carefully consider our request for regional transport justice in our part of the country.”

“We also hope our local councils will rethink their current plans to build a rail trail by removing the railway track between Armidale and Glen Innes as a restored train service can provide far more longer-term benefits to the New England community.”

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