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Byron Shire
May 19, 2021

Push for rail trail picks up pace

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ice-President of Rail Trails Australia, Steven Kaye (left) alongside the rail line at Stokers Siding, with Northern Rivers Rail Trail Vice-President Steve Martin and son Jackson. Photo Tweed Shire Council
Vice-President of Rail Trails Australia, Steven Kaye (left) alongside the rail line at Stokers Siding, with Northern Rivers Rail Trail Vice-President Steve Martin and son Jackson. Photo Tweed Shire Council

Despite controversy around the future use of the disused Casino to Murwillumbah railway line, energy is building to have a cycle and pedestrian route built along its corridor.

Tweed Shire council has plans for a pilot 2.3km section from Murwillumbah railway station to the Tweed Regional Gallery.

Recently Rail Trails Australia vice president Steven Kaye visited the line, which he said has ‘incredible potential’ for use by cyclists, walkers and horse riders.

During a tour of the 132km route earlier this month Mr Kaye described it as ‘an unbelievable opportunity’.

It could be a brilliant rail trail,’ he said.

‘You’ve got everything here; you’ve got the beautiful small towns and you’ve got the tourism.’

His visit, joined by representatives of Council and Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NRRT), included inspection of the Murwillumbah pilot project.

In what appears to be a change in tack for the community group Trains on Our Tracks (TOOT), president Karin Kolbe recently gave tacit approval to the project, provided the trail runs beside the existing tracks rather than in place of them.

‘We can use bikes to get to and from stations. Or, we take our bikes on the train. Or, bikes travel beside the tracks on their own path – as they do in California, Italy and even Victoria. This creates a choice to bike one way and rail home,’ she wrote in a letter to the editor last week.

‘Keeping the tracks for rail is the only option that guarantees the land stays in public ownership forever, for long-term social, economic and environmental reasons. No other option does this,’ she added.

Patrick Knight, Tweed Shire Council’s director of engineering and operations, said even the pilot trail would be ‘a wonderful asset for Tweed residents’.

‘It will provide Murwillumbah residents and visitors with a much-needed off road pedestrian and cycle path connecting the town centre to the Art Gallery,’ Mr Knight said.

NRRT Vice President, Steve Martin, said Tweed Regional Gallery would undoubtedly be ‘a jewel in the crown of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail’.

Mr Martin said the vision for a Northern Rivers rail trail included converting existing railway stations into service points such as amenities, bike hire and repairs, cafes and tour operators.

He said Mr Kaye’s visit, support and input was extremely valuable for the project’s momentum.

‘Given Steven’s knowledge of rail trails around Australia, the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc is delighted he can also see the incredible opportunity we have to create a world-class tourist attraction that will benefit the whole community in terms of increased jobs and active transport,’ Mr Martin said.


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  1. It’s not a good idea to have community access to “alternate” assets like rail trails. They promote the vivacity of local communities, they attract local investment in tourist service business, they attract tourists ( who spend fiat currency), they promote healthy lifestyles, blah blah blah…..

    What should happen is that all non currently used railway land should be sold off…yesterday. That way we could get rid of some of the debt we currently have so that we can take on new debt ( to private banks of course ) to increase our GDP. They’d also make great “Gasland” transit zones. In selling off we can take all support away from the “touchy feely” fringe dwelling freaks who promote this sort of rubbish. I’d say more only I need to check on my ROIs. Gotta go now.

  2. Rotorua NZ is leading the way on the use of dis-used rail tracks. An old tourist line around the lake has been adopted by a clever chap who is doing a simple mod. to the wheels of golf carts for a do-it yourself ride around that famous lake.
    All the carts are monitored/controlled by the operator using GPS and wireless to every cart so there is no chance of a collision and faults are instantly transmitted.
    Why can’t an Australian entrepreneur come up with a similar plan? Of course a return line would be needed
    but the specs would be minimal due to the very small weights/speeds involved.

  3. Hourly trains would require a duplicate track to be installed alongside the winding and slow existing snake like line.Extra tunnels would need to be cut thru the mountains,diesel locomotive spewing smoke thru the towns as they pull out the stations,major traffic jams in both Mullumbimby and Byron Bay waiting for these trains to pass thru.Not a real good situation.A high speed train ( electric) following the highway corridor with spur lines (light gauge) teeing off to major populations ,yes.

  4. No extra lines or tunnels would be needed to run a commuter train every hour.

    But of course we don’t want our towns serviced by sustainable transport, ie commuter trains. Much better to have them choked with cars creating pollution and buses spewing diesel fumes. That the cars and buses sit in traffic jams for hours and can’t actually go anywhere is just a minor inconvenience.

    Louise Doran.

  5. Our trains should never have been taken away. Our forebears paid for the supply of public transport with their hard-earned taxes. So what if they were run at a loss (according to a biased study no doubt)?
    How would the city folk feel if suddenly their trains, or ferries or buses were taken away for running at a loss? Give us back our trains! Yes diesel is polluting, but there are much better fuels we could use. It would be a bonus if we could have eco-tourism encouraged by bike or horse or hiking or whatever trails along the same route. There is so much potential. What about putting all power lines underground from now on, and retrospectively? What about a fast train along the same route as the main highways between major cities too? What about giving back the funds raised from lotteries to the hospitals, nurses and doctors? What about the solar power you make being paid for at an equitable price? What about using less noisy wind generators that are already invented? or wave power generators? What about using our oceans as highways for container transport instead of huge trucks on our highways? Rail and Road systems of other countries work so much better. So much potential. We are a relatively young country and really quite rich. We should be using world’s best practise for everything.

  6. I absolutely love the ‘Rail Trail’ idea, it is a must! it makes good sense. However we also must keep the rail lines we can at a future date run trains as well.

  7. The reality is that rail transport in Regional areas is so costly for the amount of use it gets that it cannot be justified, we all prefer to drive our cars. As much as we like the idea of a comfortable train trip, we still do not use it.

    In other states, rail lines have been taken up and recycled. The funds recovered are used to build a cycle/walking/horse path. They have proven to be a fantastic success, once the local communities realise all the uses they provide. They all say the same thing, wish we had done this 10/20 etc years ago.

    I commend everyone to support a small section of a rail trail as a test site, and see for yourself the benefits it provides. Where this has been done in other places the response is overwhelmingly in favour of extending the trails. Look at the web sites of established trails and you will see clear evidence of thousands of people using the trails on a daily basis.

  8. You can’t tell me that the ‘THOUSANDS” as u say Bruce are all tourist’s, ,most are locals so how is that bringing extra money to the area?? I did a survey at work, 100 plus people, and none said if passing through a town with rail trail that they would stop and have a bike ride or walk on it…The Govt should at least bring back freight trains , if only 1 life is saved on the roads by removing most of the trucks then wouldn’t it be worth it… I take it a lot of Rail Trail people are in the truck business , guess what?? so am i, but only because the trains have gone. And what farmer is interested in buying the small piece of rail property that runs through there farm,,, they use it for free now, why buy it,, more expense for the farmer and i;m sure they don’t want any one else owning the bit of land in the middle of there farm. I would however support a rail trail next to the line BUT NOT REPLACE IT.THAT WAY THE HISTORY REMAINS. It seems not many people in the rail trail group are interested in HISTORY.


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