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A Region Back on the Rails?: Passenger Rail and Regional Development on the NSW Far North Coast

  • Year: 2006
  • Author: Stilwell, Frank; Paillas, Stephen
  • Journal Name: Sustaining Regions
  • Journal Number: Vol. 5, No. 3
  • Country: Australia
  • State/Region: New South Wales

The recent publication of the NSW Government's draft Far North Coast Regional Strategy (NSW Department of Planning 2006) provides a timely and interesting context in which to examine the NSW Far North Coast region. At stake are issues of regional governance and planning, spatial economic growth, environmental sustainability and social development. Public infrastructures, though apparently beyond the scope of the Government's current report, warrant particular consideration because they play such a central role in regional development. The Casino to Murwillumbah railway, which was closed in May 2004 because of its apparent lack of commercial viability, makes for an interesting case study. Was the closure of the train service necessary, even though the region is experiencing rapid population and economic growth? Are there other options whereby public rail transport could serve the needs of balanced regional development? This article examines the region and the rail closure from a political economic perspective. It examines the Regional Strategy, explains the railway line closure, looks at the campaign for its reopening, and situates these concerns in a broader analysis of the forces impacting on regional development.

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