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Byron Shire
April 21, 2021

Rail trail

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There’s a track winding back through Byron and beyond between Casino and Murwillumbah.

This overgrown long paddock snakes its forgotten way through the heart and extremities of the Byron shire. It used to be a railway track and now some people want to turn it into a trail for walking and cycling.

Is that a good idea or not? After all, it is a lot of land and could be sold for development, with profits going into research exploring the benefits of exercise, more in keeping with government policy. After all, what would an old GP know about health?

Some enterprising souls might even think about establishing refreshment kiosks in the old stations that could become a magnet for all those tourists to discover the hidden beauties.

A popular fear exists that once people start walking in the country, then the trains may never come back to this trail of ghosts.

So, we could leave it just as is and then no-one will have to do anything.

David Miller, Brunswick Heads


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  1. of course there are people who would like to have a rail trail so that they can set up kiosks and other tourist businesses along the rail line… they can still do this if we have rail services with connecting trails too. and of course developers are super keen to try and buy parts of this valuable land!
    The fear that ripping up the tracks will mean that trains will never return is totally valid, because the government plans to dismantle the tracks and sell the sleepers and valuable metal. This will make it far more expensive for future governments to restore the line. Rail trail businesses will also fight hard to keep their bike trails once they are in place.
    the problem with doing nothing, is that the government doesnt gain anything from doing nothing. they have let the tracks sit there and do nothing for the last 10 years and the time is coming for a decision to be made. unfortunately, its pretty clear that the government doesnt want to invest any money in this line at all, they would much rather try to make money out of it by selling the sleepers and metal, and maybe even the land too once everyone has forgotten about it. They are not going to let the corridor sit there for another 10 yrs unused, and its a real shame that they can’t see that a regular rail service would be profitable, benefit the community and the tourism industry, far more than a bike trail ever could on its own.

    • After 10 years of failure by the train lobby to convince any number of Governments that reintroducing the train was a good idea, we finally get a chance to consider Plan B. Despite years of claims by the Train lobby of majority support only 12 people turned up to the protest at Don Page’s office. For every one signatory on the train petition, there are four on the rail trail petition and if you check the photos published by TOOT over the years you’ll see there are NEVER any more that 10-15 people in them. If you examine the TOOT hierarchy, you’ll see that its riddled with a rich tapestry of politicians or political wannabes who have become used to having “The Train” to get their names and faces in the media for years. Well TOOT the gig is up, sensible and informed people have said NO to the train so you’ll have to find another subject for your media beat-ups if you all (you know who your are) want to get on or stay on the political gravy-train into the future. Very cynical TOOT (and its constituent parts), you are responsible for creating an expectation that the train was ever feasible in the first place, shameful and self-serving! We the majority don’t want to wait another for 10 years, we want a rail trail!

      • most of this is totally untrue Will Jeffery. last week a petition was submitted for rail services on the casino to murwillumbah like with more signatures than the rail trail petition, with hundreds more being collected. despite many people falling for the propaganda by the rail trail groups, most people i talk to would love to have a frequent rail service here. when the last train left the NR when it was closed, there were hundreds of people on the platforms protesting. there still are a lot of people fighting for the rail services, because we can see that the government reports have been doctored to suit their agenda to make more money from our car, road and petrol dependence, and because they dont want to fund or subsidise the service. i totally think that the rail corridor can be used for a railcar service, as well as bike trails alongside in many sections, or even better would be rail-bikes that use the rails instead of removing them. rail-bikes would still help to maintain the corridor without destroying the tracks. i have been supporting TOOT for the last 2 years and i am definitely no politician, i believe in the cause because i grew up in the area, i used the old train service, when it was closed i hitch hiked for many years to get to uni in lismore etc and after i had lost several friends in road accidents around here and been in a motorcycle accident myself i though enough is enough. integrated public transport where people can take their bikes onto trains etc would benefit so many people in the community, elderly, youth, students, disabled, people without a car, if we had a service that was for the community as well as tourists there would be a lot of savings to the community, and if it was frequent and conecting to bike paths and buses etc it would work. the Gold Coast Motorail in the 1990s used to make a huge profit and yet it was cut and replaced with the daily xpt which was never going to be succesful, all to suit the governments agenda.

        • But Angie, this is all hearsay. What petition was submitted to whom last week that had more signatures than the rail trail petition? Why are these details not available on-line? The only public data seems to be the on-line petitions currently 3564 for the rail trail, 921 for the train and 70 for Stuart Saunders’ petition. If I have missed something, please send me a link.

  2. Love the tongue in cheek comments, David, thank you! I agree, at least get something happening.

    imagine being able to cycle, horse ride, or even (heaven forbid in this day and age) walk, from Mullumbimby to Byron Bay to Billinugel to Burringbar to Murwillumbah, staying in B&B’s on the way, enjoying the local ‘kulcha’, gourmet delights and scenery..

    Too tough?

  3. There appears to be comment coming from NSW residents re rail trails (for bikes,walkers,horses) being less economic than trains .
    I am a Victorian (in my late sixties) and a bike rider who has ridden some of the many rail trails in Vic.
    The State government has spent 10’s of millions of dollars on these trails and they are a joy to ride on ,the gradient is ideal for all ages .
    I guess Victoria has more disused rail lines recently rode a fair bit of the Goulbourn River Rail Trail 134kms from Tallarook to Mansfield towns along the way are full of tourists.(Vic spent 12 million on this one alone)
    I can imagine what a great ride the Murwillimbah to Casino would be, locals and tourists of all ages would benefit.

    As well wouldn’t it be great to see the Byron rail section being used as a motorcar and push bike by pass ,would that work.
    Come on NSW join the rest of the world and get on your bikes


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