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March 21, 2023

NOROC backs rail trail plan

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Tweed mayor Barry Longland
Tweed mayor Barry Longland has announced local mayors will back the plan for a rail trail on the northern rivers.

The plan for a rail trail through the Casino to Murwillumbah rail-line corridor has a powerful new ally after receiving the thumbs up from the Northern Regional Organisation of Councils (NOROC) yesterday.

While throwing themselves behind the proposal, the five mayors within the group are adamant it should not be a substitute for a rail line on all or part of the route, ‘that would utilise existing local infrastructure on the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line’.

NOROC president, Tweed mayor Barry Longland, said the improvement of public transport systems across the northern rivers was ‘a priority for NOROC councils, and the development of a rail trail should not compromise this’.

‘The Byron council is confident local rail services can operate within its shire, and that this form of public and group transport could co-exist with the development of a rail trail,’ Cr Longland said.

He added that the rail line was seen as a ‘vital transport link for the whole region’.

But he said the development of a rail trail along the corridor would be a way of ensuring the land remains in public hands.

‘The northern rivers is a scenically diverse area and the Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor cuts through some of the most stunning parts of the region,’ Cr Longland said.

‘NOROC is now awaiting the release of the ARUP report on the Casino to Murwillumbah Rail Trail Feasibility Study and we look forward to reviewing and commenting on the report,’ he said.

Echonetdaily understands the feasibility study has been completed and will be released to the public shortly.

The peak council group covers five local shires, including the four in which the railway line runs.


Meanwhile, more than $2,000 was raised for the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc (NRRT) at last Saturday night’s fundraiser dinner, held at the Byron Bay Entertainment Centre.

Association member Marie Lawton told Echonetdaily, ‘Rail trail supporters gathered together for a fun night of circus acts, music and dinner, with a guest appearance from The Space Cowboy with his miraculous spoon-bending and unicycle feats’.

‘[Local NSW MP] Don Page also made a guest appearance and spoke eloquently on his vision for the northern rivers with the potential building of the rail trail.

‘Mr Page is very optimistic that the result will be a positive one. Mr Page also said that he will remain committed to the project even though he will be retiring as the local member for Ballina next year.’

Ms Lawton says money was raised through a raffle and a silent auction from donations made by local businesses in Byron and Lismore.

‘Businesses have been very happy to support the fundraiser and Circus Arts have been amazing with the amount of work they put into making the night a success,’ she said.

The plan for a rail trail along the corridor first surfaced after a proposal to return rail to the line was deemed too expensive by a study commissioned by former local government minister Don Page in April last year.

Then, last August, he announced an investigation into the use of the corridor for a rail trail, which is still to report its findings.

Meanwhile, local rail-trail enthusiasts met with politicians in Sydney, including transport minister Gladys Berejiklian, in March this year to launch the Rail Trails for NSW group.

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  1. It’s bunkum to say that supporting Rail Trails is way to preserve the rail corridor. The rail corridor is preserved under current legislation and only an Act of Parliament (eg. a Rail Trails Bill) will compromise rail’s protected status. The Mayors should stand behind the majority of the peoples in their need for proper public transport and not join the ranks of our National Party reps who have turned their backs on trains. The NOROC decision to support Rail Trails does not come with the blessing of their respective councils or their constituents. It represents an executive level of decision making at the regional level which does not have a proper democratic basis. We need to let the Mayors know that they do not speak for us, we want and deserve proper public transport solutions not bike trails. To set up this infrastructure they will have to destroy the rail infrastructure and it will cost many millions to benefit a few small business operators. There will be even greater reluctance to change things at a later stage in favour of trains. There should be no compromise or be Trail of our need for Trains on the Casino-Murwillumbah line.

  2. If the Qld NSW border did not exist, this debate would not be happening. There would already be hourly trains Casino > Brisbane, inc NR, two international airports, Gold Coast and Brisbane. Possibly biopowered by Condong Cogen.

    The Northern Rivers has long been held hostage by petty political jealousies preventing the NR Line being connected to the Coast. Also, commercial interests ‘don’t want NR people shopping in Brisbane’ – SMH archives tell all.

    Yes, Rail Trail is a good idea. But it can only be a good second option. Best is outlined in ‘QR to Casino’ (snipurl.com/qr-to-casino)

    This is also better than – Rail Trail – for the cyclists – lots of destinations to arrive at refreshed (having ‘Relaxed by Rail’) – put a goods van on the train for the bikes.

    And for the rest of us, commute anywhere Casino to Bris hourly, zero carbon.

  3. Dep Tweed Mayor Youngblutt says ‘do not resurrect this dinosaur’ – & I wholeheartedly agree. But the dinosaur he is talking about is the ‘once a day to the big smoke’.

    Our petition is about environmentally sustainable, hourly commutable integration of the fastest growing region of Australia – currently almost entirely dependent on unsustainable fossil powered vehicles.

    Government has spent 3 – 4 times as much on roads in the NR area recently as it would take to implement ‘QR to Casino’ – double on the St Helena Tunnel alone!

    Pls click – read – feedback – sign – forward. (Snipurl.com/QR-to-Casino)

    If only for your kids.

  4. Garth is 100% right !
    Is there anyone on the North Coast that doesn’t recognize the absurdity of closing this rail link ? ….. and more to the point, linking this essential infrastructure to the Gold Coast rail system to Brisbane, should be priority number one to any sane forward thinking politician. Does anybody know one ?
    This is the employment program that the area is dying for lack of. I don’t mean some” work for the unemployment” slave labour scheme but proper dignified jobs for local kids. The value of some level of public transport is beyond dispute. I believe this state of anarchy, is due to the usual incompetence and corruption that is so obvious in our political system. Lets try to exercise a little democracy, and force our representatives to represent our interests for a change. Look what we achieved in Bentley.

  5. As we continue to notice changes in our climate (my jonquils are flowering now!) and the need to act becomes more urgent, changing our transport options will become more important for us. Road transport provides over 15% of Australia’s CO2 emissions. Trains transport people more efficiently per passenger km with less CO2 emissions. Heavy rail uses about 75% less in greenhouse gas emissions than single use vehicles. We shall need to reduce our carbon footprints for the sake of the next generation or even ours.
    In the Netherlands, all electric trains will be wind-powered by 2018, cutting carbon emissions to zero. It springs off a development deal for the Netherland’s largest offshore wind project, the $4.1billion, 600MW Gemini scheme.
    Even without climate change, a fossil-powered future is inconceivable, unintelligent, expensive, old-fashioned and dirty.
    We need to plan for a bright future on the North Coast with renewable energy-powered rail and we must not compromise our rail track with short-sighted options.

  6. This rail trail is such a great opportunity for the region, and there is SO much support for the rail trail that the people commenting above don’t seem to realise. The rail trail is not a threat to the opportunity for trains to be used in the region at some point in the future – when an economically viable option is presented.

    Why are we still hearing the same old comments when instead we could focus on moving things forward and getting other, more viable transport options in our region? I join the daily queue of cars to Lismore and am frustrated that there are no buses servicing the surrounding towns when so many of us work in Lismore (and yes, I do car pool as well). Let’s stop talking about trains – for now – and start asking for better bus services.

    By the way – have any of the other people above seen the impact of rail trails in other regions? I’ve been on a couple in New Zealand and run-down towns have been revived, new businesses popped up everywhere, historic buildings preserved, and communities have had new jobs created. Aren’t these some of the things we want to see in our region, too?

  7. To NOROC Mayors, I think you had better read the Tweed/Southern Sun, Thursday, May 22, 2014 by ANDREW POTTS. What is the topic? Why, TRAIN TRANSPORT OF COURSE! Support for light rail plan. Southern Gold Coast business leaders have backed plans to extend the light rail to Tugun. The Queensland Government last week opened tenders for early planning for a Burleight to Tugun link.
    MPs are pushing for the system to run along West Burleigh Rd to connect with heavy rail at Varsity Lakes.
    Connecting Southern Gold Coast boss Peter Doggett welcomed the news & said connecting GCAirport to heavy or light rail was essential to the city’s prosperity. “We are encouraged by this news & while it is obviously going to be some time away, at least we know the gov is seriously looking at it,” he said.
    NOROC President, Tweed Mayor Barry Longland said the improvement of public transport systems across the northern rivers was ‘a priority for NOROC councils, & the rail trail should not compromise this’. The rail trail is a selfish plan, denying transport to people! The rail corridor belongs to the community now, so is ‘safe’ as we continually here that this terrible ‘old legislation’ – Crown Land, is HAMPERING THE RAIL TRAIL. Why has the review by Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, to get rid of Crown Land 1890 ‘put out there’ quietly to constiuents who do not know about it! Yet submissions to the reveiw closes 20th June 2014.
    From all the research & showing our need for safe public transport I & so many others have done over many yrs to do with our trains, there ‘appears’ to have been ‘conversations’ to stop the trains way before the Rail Corridor Study! The Tweed Mayor has been itching to rip those darn train tracks up like yrs ago! The Tweed council even budgeted $500,000 2013 over 2 yrs towards their pilot track to the Art Gallery! 2014-15 budget for their track $275.000 – rip the train lines up, get rid of them, bring the bikes on! Tweed Council Director of Engineering David Oxenham said “The State spends significant funds to maintain the rail corridor as it is for no community benefit whatsoever, “…then onto their wonderful bike/walking track! He also went to Sydney for the RT Launch. Did Tweed Shire Council pay all their travel, meals etc?
    I say to NOROC & other councils, MPs; read the story of “The Emperor & His New Clothes”, one little boy wondered why everbody was clapping at the Emperor’s new clothes, when he actually did not have any clothes on! All who accept the rediculous ‘reasons’ against our train tranport – remind me of this story! Nationals/Coalition have failed to provide a Duty of Care for safe public train transport for their constituents! Jillian Spring

  8. tourist rail trails around the world are most successful when they are beside functioning rail services. It enables people to take their bikes on the trains. something like this could be awesome for the northern rivers, but to rip up the train tracks for a bike path is just insane. We need the rail for transport infrastructure more than we need more tourists…. our roads and social network are already under so much pressure from tourism. We have the highest road toll, most dangerous roads, highest drink driving, highest rents and unemployment, even a high suicide rate. Enough is Enough. We need to stop the carnage on our roads and create a sustainable future for the next generation, and trains on our tracks is the way to do it.


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