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Bid fails to derail Tweed rail-trail funding

Luis Feliu

A bid to look into how $275,000 earmarked to establish a rail trail from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek could benefit the town if redirected to showcasing its heritage values failed at Tweed Shire Council’s last meeting.

Mayor Katie Milne sought a report on how the ratepayer money could be better spent in beautifying Murwillumbah to attract more visitors there, rather than adding it to the $13 million in public funds she says has been allocated to the ambitious Rail trail project.

The move by Greens mayor, backed by deputy mayor Gary Bagnall, ‘noted’ the Tweed Coast Cycle Way already provided a tourist cycling attraction which, unlike the rail trail, improved community transport links.

Cr Milne listed various tourist attractions already benefiting the town, including Wollumbin/Mt Warning and the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre.

Coincidenrtally, at the same meeting on Thursday, general manager Troy Green’s recommendation to use $90,000 of ratepayer funds to instal public-artwork ‘gateway’ installations at entry points to Murwillumbah and Kingscliff was unanimously deferred so staff can hold further consultation with stakeholders such as the local tourism body.

Mr Green proposed that $60,000 be allocated for a public artwork at the roundabout at Alma Street, Murwillumbah, and $30,000 for one to be commissioned and installed at the Pacific Highway underpass on Wommin Bay Road, Kingscliff, which serves as a gateway to the Tweed coastal villages.

In her move, Cr Milne said the staff report could look at ’the benefits the $275,000 of ratepayer funds allocated to the Rail Trail could bring to the town if these funds were redirected to investing in beautifying and showcasing the heritage values of the town to entice visitors to stop, admire and shop in the town, and the benefits enhancing the aesthetic heritage values of the town would provide for a sense of pride of place for the community’.

But the move failed to get the support of Crs Barry Longland, Warren Polglase, Phil Youngblutt and Carolyn Byrne.

Earlier in the meeting, those four pro-rail-trail councillors voted to send, at ratepayer expense, Cr Longhand and engineering director David Oxenham to Sydney to attend the Rail Trails for NSW relaunch at Parliament House on 22 March so they can lobby ministers.

Crs Milne and Bagnall opposed the move.

In another rail-trail-related issue at the meeting, Cr Milne asked if safety concerns over the ’isolated nature of the Rail Trail been taken into account and if so how will these be addressed?’

Mr Oxenham responded that emergency vehicles would have ‘full access to the rail trail, ‘so the trail would be no more isolated than any road in the district’.

Mr Oxenham said that it was ‘important to note that the longest stretch between public accesses on the Tweed section of the trail is 4.3km (gallery to Stokers Road). In comparison, the Wollumbin/Mt Warning summit track is 4.4km, not accessible by emergency vehicles, steep and rocky (ie more dangerous) and only accessible by helicopter at one end.’

He said an emergency response plan would be developed in consultation with local police, fire and emergency services and would include:

• Making all bridges/culverts capable of supporting emergency vehicles

• Location markers at regular intervals so users can identify their position to
emergency services if needed

• Installing emergency phones (like phones provided on motorways) in areas
where mobile reception is not available.


9 responses to “Bid fails to derail Tweed rail-trail funding”

  1. Angie says:

    Say no to rail trails! If this goes ahead they will be ripping up the railway connection – only a few kms from Murwillumbah to the Coolangatta Airport !

  2. Damon says:

    Say NO to TOOT and their simplistic ‘lets connect a disused and weed infested rail corridor that does not serve the population area in our region’ to the Coolangatta airport. The current QLD government has absoluatley no plans to connect the GC train line to the Airport so why on earth would the NSW want to connect the disused Murwillumbah line to the Airport for a handful of TOOT supporters.

    Say NO to the hundreds of homes in Banoora PT and Tweed head that would have to be bulldozed to make way for train from Murwillumbah to Coolangatta.

    Say NO to a small minority of die-hard railway buffs that after 12 years of campaiging, a couple of governments, feasibility studies, still refuse to accept the facts that no government in their right mind is going to restore the Casino to Muriwillumbah line. A line that serves less than 40% of the current Northern Rivers population and does not service the fast growing coastal areas in our region. These supporters are lost in some nostalgic past and continue to block progress on this disused and mostly overgrown weed corridor!

    Say YES to a rail trail that will bring economic revival to the small town and villages along the corrdor. Rail trails both intererstate and overseas have proven time and time again to be popular tourist draw cards.Just over the border the Brisbane Valley Rail trail continues to be extended due to it’s popularity.

  3. Gary Ainsworth says:

    What about the farmers in the Burringbar district that have already said they do not want a rail trail? (http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/rail-trails-down-the-track-costs-a-concern-for-may/2508397/)
    What about all the elderly and disabled that will have no use for the trail?
    What about the infrastructure that our ancestors (and possibly more far-sighted people than us) laboured to build for the usage of all people?
    What about all the traffic in this region? That will only get worse…
    What about all the other companies interested in re-opening the railway line for the benefit of the wider communities?
    As you can see there is still alot to be said about this proposed rail trail and what affects it will really have on this region if it gets off the ground at all.

    All the previous publicity stunts aside, we need to see the bigger picture and acknowledge the fact that the rail transport is the only way out or viable alternative to our traffic problems in the long term and the fact that once its gone, its gone for good and won’t be coming back in our or our offspring’s lifetime. Something too look at:
    http://hostthenpost.org/uploads/154c3daba9e0c7aea06f98a6dc36eb1d.jpg
    http://hostthenpost.org/uploads/7434f10f1ad998552b12cda010cc44b7.jpg

    I think the cost in comparison with the usage level is a bit of a waste of money, as anyone in their right mind would only use it in Winter. Even then all you would get are a few die-hard Lycra clad fitness junkies…

  4. Mark W says:

    I for one am not willing to fund through my taxes the self interests of a noisy pro-cycling minority and the destruction and vandalism of great historical achievements of this region. This proposal is a backward step and and I hope the government comes to its senses and doesn’t proceed any further with this idea. The farmers and wider community have had enough.

    • John H says:

      Vandalism takes many forms Mark W. Neglect is a form of vandalism by proxy. The vandalism on this line started when it was closed. The tenet of Rail Trails for NSW is to utilise the corridor as a linear recreation reserve whilst preserving it for future use as a railway if the situation arises. At the moment, rails are rusting, sleepers rotting and the corridor succumbing to the whiles of nature. It has been over forty years since some lines fell into disuse. Nothing was done to revitalise them until RTFNSW came on the scene. Sounds more like an anti bicycle rally than a pro rail rally to me.

  5. Linda Carmody says:

    Anyone can google Railtrails and see worldwide examples the beneficial impact they have on communities, roads, public health, family recreation… the list goes on. It’s a no brainer. Holding your breath and stamping your feet and obstructing a positive solution isn’t going to bring the trains back. Just get on with it and create a rail trail for everyone’s benefit.

  6. Gary Ainsworth says:

    You say ‘For everyone’s benefit’ Since would a lonely pathway benefit ‘everyone’? The only people it would ‘benefit’ are 1. Trucking companies 2. Lycra clad fitness junkies. Trains on the other hand actually do benefit ‘everyone’ as it does not matter if you are young, old, disabled – they can all use the railways.

    The region has a large population of elderly and retired, a rail trail would be nothing more than a waste of money to them, as they would have no use for it. Even young residents would be too busy trying to find public transport to find time to use the trail.

    I also don’t see how the rail trail will recoup any of the millions needed for its construction and ongoing maintenance – rail trail tollways? However, if the trail does get off the ground (if ever), and they build the Murwillumbah to Crabbe’s Creek proposal, it won’t take long before people realise that the trail is just a flop and more money down the drain, then the support will rapidly disappear…

    This is a much better idea however: http://www.echo.net.au/2016/02/151825/

    • John H says:

      Gary Ainsworth, I am not super fit, but I am an elderly retiree who is capable of riding up to 100km per day on a bicycle. I ride with many people my age and older who are capable of doing the same thing. A rail trail proposal is for a linear recreational reserve where people can carry out a range of recreational activities, not just cycling. Short walks to bird watch, explore the diverse flora and fauna of the Australian bush, take the kids for a safe off road, traffic free venue to ride, walk or skate. Much is made of problems with communication on these corridors, I see it as a bonus because people have to actually look around at their surrounds rather than the screen of a mobile phone. Great ideas to usitlise these disused and neglected corridors.

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