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Byron Shire
May 8, 2021

Trains or bikes on our tracks?

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Kay Bristow, Uki

On the issue of whether trains should return to our tracks or be replaced with ‘rail trails’ I would like to make the following points.

The rails could stay and a trail could use the existing rail corridor, leaving open the possibility of returning trains to the tracks in the future.

The idea of rails-with-trails is less well known. It is the name given to multi-use trails along rail lines that are still active.

Once constructed, rails-with-trails offer similar benefits to trail users and the general community as other types of trails. They are safe places for walking, jogging, cycling and other forms of recreation or human-powered travel and they provide recreation, commuter and utility links between and within communities.

Rails-with-trails also make efficient use of rail corridors by providing more transportation choices and recreation opportunities for the community. In many places it is difficult to find land on which trails can be built so utilising an existing rail corridor can be the best option.

Rail trails add much needed economic activity to existing rural towns and villages as they are great at attracting tourists. Cycle tourists spend more money as they travel more slowly. $159 is the average daily spend in Murray to Mountains region or $244 daily for cycle tourists (Source: TRA, 2008; Tourism Australia, 2008). This rail trail in Victoria has nearly 50,000 riders per year, which is more people than used our trains.

Rail trail users have comparatively high discretionary income.

Studies into the economic benefits of rail trails in Victoria show that regional communities are better off with a viable rail trail than without one.

Our region would provide a world-class trail that domestic and international visitors would love. Mountains, beach, rural, forest, we have it all on our Casino–Murwillumbah line. Tourists would be more likely to get out of Byron Bay and explore other areas.

  • Rail trails are safe and suitable for children and those who haven’t been on a bike for a long time.
  • They add relatively inexpensive but major tourism infrastructure.
  • Provide safe access between villages and towns for local use.
  • Provide a 132km seamless flora and fauna corridor.
  • Keep rail corridor in the hands of the community and available in the future should a railway line be required.
  • Provide sustainable jobs and distribute economic opportunities to local small businesses.

Happy Trails.


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1 COMMENT

  1. Excellent letter Kay, heartily agree, it would be wonderful to have a rail trail on the M’bah to Casino rail line for all the excellent reasons you give. Am sure Destination Tweed would get behind such an initiative.

    I have cycled on rail trails in Victoria and they are excellent.

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