Bypassing Rail Again

[This article was written as a letter by the Editor and first published in the Blue Mountains Gazette newspaper in print 20080827]

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…come…

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…is the same road-centric organisation, different in name only.

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And is lobbied constantly by the …

and the…

…for bigger and faster and more roads.

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<<Before fuel got expensive and before climate change got serious, road-centric transport planning culminated in the Auslink national transport policy with a heavy bias to building roads. Auslink remains the unquestioned policy behind why the Great Western Highway is steadily being widened out to four lanes to Orange.

As the RTA carves its juggernaut through the Mountains, trees are felled, creeks polluted and villages and towns are losing their rural identity to a suburban sameness.  Communities have become divided by a wide, noisy and anti-pedestrian barrier.  Katoomba, Leura and Wentworth Falls, have become prefixed by ‘north’ and ‘south’ (of the highway).  I wager north and south Hazelbrook/Lawson/Bullaburra will follow suit and Blackheath’s on the cards.  The millions to add two extra lanes are not to alleviate weekend tourist bottlenecks, but so long-haul truck drivers can drive faster.

Bob Debus is pushing to spend some $450m to bypass Mount Victoria for a route “more suited to the operation of heavy vehicles.” (Debus website)  But spending millions to encourage more trucks on our roads is a poor economic gamble.  Rising fuel costs of trucking are forecast to price out the viability of produce and exports.  A key driver is the constant lobbying of MPs by road lobby groups.  NRMA’s Motoring and Services donated $225,000 to political parties around last year’s federal election. NRMA’s president justified this as “a reality of being involved in the political process today” (Sun-Herald 10-8-08).

I recall voting out Kerry Bartlett for declaring his dumb Bells Superhighway hand.  Bob’s conveying the same road-centric thinking; albeit via a different route.  Take the following comparable statistics from the Australian Rail Association: “A train between Melbourne and Sydney will use 45,000 litres less fuel, replace 145 semi-trailers and saves 135 tonnes of greenhouse gases.”

So why are we bypassing our rundown rail? >>

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…the Elephant in the Room..

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<<The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) is a not-for-profit member-based association that represents passenger, freight, track, manufacturing, construction, supply and other rail companies in Australasia.

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) is the peak body representing all passenger, freight, track operators and the wider rail supply industry in Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.

Our fundamental purpose is to create an environment that will permit the Australasian rail industry to prosper. When issues arise that affect the whole industry, the ARA takes the lead facilitating an industry response.

The ARA is actively involved in the development of rail policy to ensure the industry’s views are represented.

As well as shaping policy in the areas of passenger, freight, rail safety regulatory reform, the environment, technology and research, the ARA is also involved in programmes aimed at improving the productivity, capacity and overall safety of the Australasian rail industry.

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Our Vision

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The Australasian Rail Industry’s vision is that Rail will become the transport mode of choice because of its economic, environmental and social advantages.

In achieving this we aim to provide enhanced passenger services for our communities and have more trains carrying increased volumes of bulk freight and goods.>>

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Read More:  ^http://www.ara.net.au/

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Short Term Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
(so long as it excludes Rail)
Short Term Minister for Regional Development and Local Government
(so long as it excludes Rail)

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