MURWILLUMBAH residents will be forced to book buses online or over the phone from July 29, when the historic Murwillumbah Train Station closes its doors for good.
While trains have not arrived in Murwillumbah for many years, passengers still use the station office to book bus tickets, check bus times as well as pay for tickets and refunds.
Many elderly residents take advantage of the Murwillumbah station as well as visitors and travellers using the station as a central travelling point.
Several NSW Trains employees contacted The Weekly on Tuesday to flag the closure, which also includes former train stations at Lismore and Byron Bay.
Among the employees to lose their jobs is the Murwillumbah station master, who has worked at Murwillumbah Railway Station for many decades. He declined to comment on the matter and did not want his name published.
The news comes after a union push to uncover the details for local rail workers and ensure their entitlements were still on track.
Richard Mehrtens, a spokesperson for Rail, Tram and Bus Union confirmed customer service attendants who sell tickets and help tourists with luggage at Lismore, Byron Bay and Murwillumbah will be axed under the Baird government’s proposal.
“Essentially, Lismore Train Station will just become a lump of concrete,” he said.
“These station are places frequented by people who don’t know the area very well, may be elderly and need help. There are also safety concerns associated with leaving large groups at an unattended station,” he said.
“We do not know how many jobs are at risk in Casino but we could compare it to Albury train station, which we know via an insider tip-off, will go from seven full-time and three part-time staff, cut down to two full-time and several part-timers.” he said.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union Secretary Alex Claassens, said “Ripping full-time jobs out of rural and regional communities and replacing them with fewer part-time positions will have flow on effects throughout the whole community.”
“Moving staff from an eight-hour job, down to just three hours part-time will create a new working poor who won’t be able to afford to only have one job and will be forced to try and get other work, or just go without,” he said.
The union has completed a visiting tour to stations ear-marked for closure to discuss the changes with affected staff and ensure that all workers are given the support they need.
Several residents said they’re now concerned the Murwillumbah Train Station, an historical icon of the Tweed, could become a target for vandalism.
Staff were instructed not to speak with the media and comments from staff were taken as off the record.
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