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Byron Shire
March 8, 2021

Regional rail a boost for tourism

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Regional rail is experiencing a revival in Europe. More lines are planned in the region I recently visited, to connect Italy, Austria and Switzerland.

Shut-down lines have been reopened successfully. It is a boon for tourism, especially ecotourism; many visit the region for cycling holidays.

The area, where regional rail is on the comeback, features also some of the best bike-riding tracks anywhere.

Bikes can be transported via rail to a starting point and be used on the purpose built bike tracks, which for large sections follow the rail line. You can hire bikes on railway stations and drop them off at others.

Farmers in small villages along the rail lines have diversified from their crops of apples, hay, cows… into holiday letting and bike rental.

Tourists love leaving the car behind and exploring the region on foot or bike, or travelling via rail to the scenic towns around.

We have a great opportunity to transform our region to a bike-riding holiday destination with the rail as the essential backbone.

Rail, buses and bikes go together, we just need to look a little bit further to see how it has been done successfully.

Jens Krause, Byron Bay

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  1. The railway line on the Northern Rivers NSW was designed and built circa 1890 using building technology and routes available at the time for not only the transportation of milk but populations supporting the dairying industry.Since that time (130 years) demographics have changed and people expect to travel at greater than 40 miles per hour.The snake like rail corridor followed valleys as much as possible ( Burringbar was a challenge) and avoided expansive river crossings.I would love to see a high speed train following the corridor of the Pacific Highway with branch lines feeding high population areas.I don’t want to see the traffic congestion of a train coming thru Byron Bay as happened up until 2004 with only 2 trains per day.And before this we had freight trains coming thru at odd hours causing huge traffic jams.Think wisely before asking that the train using the existing corridor is reinstated,think bigger and wider and ask for a completely new route.

  2. Australia should take some pointers from Switzerland. I have also been on a similar ‘rail trail’ in Switzerland where the train service is the ‘backbone’. people can hire/take bikes or snowboards onto the trains, jump off and cycle/ski along easy parts of the trail and down hills, and jump back on the train to get home. it works well and is really popular. if the Northern Rivers invested in this project it would be fantastic for regional tourism and local transport. There are dozens of regional festivals, markets and shows and other attractions along the heritage line and while travelling on the rail might seem ‘slow’ it would sure beat the traffic jams and parking shortages we are experiencing now.

  3. Angie, Western Europe has a population of 400M, no wonder they have a workable rail network. Please do some research about tourists motivations and behaviours in Australia, it is very different to Europe due to our unique destination characteristics and visitor profiles. The undeniable fact is that the vast majority of tourists, domestic and international, do not use public transport in Australia, check for yourself!
    Your image of tourism as happy holidaymakers jumping onto a train with their bicycles for a jolly adventure in the countryside is way off the mark, tourism is much more complicated than that. Ask any SCU graduate of ‘Business in Tourism’ and they will set you straight. A trail beside the rail will be no more than a sunburnt zone with added noise and diesel fumes. Forget about horses! Also, I’m not quite sure where these traffic jams are, or are you referring to the mild congestion during peak hours when everybody wants to use the road at the same time? Complaining about parking is saying “I don’t want to walk from my car to the shop, I want to park right there”. Lets get realistic, and lets get informed about the facts!


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