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Casino-Murwillumbah line toast, study finds

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> The Casino to Murwillumbah line in northern NSW, which was closed in 2004, should not be re-opened, a government study says. </span> <p>The study, which was promised to the local community by the coalition prior to the last election, has found that every factor which contributed to the line’s closure nine years ago is still the case today.</p><p>The study found that, as in 2004, the track’s maintenance would be costly (around $2m per annum). It also found that there was no significant freight demand to utilise the line, as was the case in 2004.</p><p>Another factor which contributed to the line’s closure – dwindling patronage – was also projected to be present today were the line re-opened. A relatively high taxpayer subsidy – $5.3 million per year in 2004 – would also still be required to keep the line operational, the new study found.</p><p>On top of this, the study found the track to be in a serious state of disrepair making the prospect of getting the line up and running again an expensive one, with an estimated cost of $900 million.</p><p>That money would need to be invested to clear dense vegetation, stabilise landslide areas, replace timber bridges and sleepers, replace ballast, and to bring the system up to the current safety and operating standards for frequent and quick train services.</p><p>“The study found that the rail line would not meet current or future transport needs and there was no commercial demand for it to be reinstated to carry freight,” Transport NSW said.</p><p>“A thorough engineering examination carried out as part of the study confirmed that the infrastructure has deteriorated significantly.”</p><p>Instead of rail investment, the study recommended the investigation of improved bus services in the region.</p><p>“There was recognition that a quality bus network would best meet public transport needs, particularly for disadvantaged people and tourists, and relieve growing congestion in Tweed Heads and Byron Bay,” Transport NSW added.</p>