It’s sad that some people are saying TOOT (Trains On Our Tracks) are not supporting a rail trail. This could not be further from the truth.
TOOT has been supporting a Rail Trail beside the tracks, with a light rail commuter service. I live 3kms from the Mullum train station, so I’d love to be able to ride my bike to the station and jump on a train.
While some rail trail supporters are saying they are not ‘anti-trains’, one look at the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Group and Casino Murwillumbah Rail Trail Supporters Group Facebook pages paints a very different story indeed.
There are people who are anti-train for their own agendas. The creators of these pages are removing all comments that are pro-train, and not answering our questions about their intentions. This is creating tension and preventing a community discussion on the issue.
The whole community should be very worried about the rail trail group trying to change the status of the land. Even though the main intention is to preserve the rail corridor and keep the land in public hands, this is not the way to do it.
Dismantling or covering the tracks with a path is not preserving it. And removing the rail’s protected status will allow for other land uses, not just a rail trail. No doubt, developers are keen to buy the land and the government would be keen to make money, even sell the scrap metal. This will make it impossible to preserve the track for future train services.
In 2009 a Rail Trail Bill was abandoned because of lack of support from the Greens and Nationals. Thomas George said ‘This is infrastructure vandalism which we must fight to the last breath,’ and Greens MLC and transport spokesperson Lee Rhiannon said ‘It is already possible to create rail trails in NSW. Many exist in the Hunter and an Act of Parliament was not needed for them to be created. The premise of the legislation is fundamentally flawed.’
With Byron Bay being the biggest tourist destination in the region and the continuing debate about the traffic and the bypass, not to mention climate change, our high growth rate and the highest road toll in NSW, light rail services on this line should be a local priority. We should protect the corridor for rail, and begin maintaining the tracks and stations as soon as possible.
We can use light diesel railcars, which can be converted to bio-fuels or solar in the future. Having rail services as part of an integrated transport plan that includes connecting buses and bikeways, will lead to a sustainable future with less deaths on our roads and more opportunities for the youth and disadvantaged in our community. It’s been 10 years and there is still a lot of community support for trains here.
Angie Burgler, TOOT, Mullumbimby