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Byron Shire
April 18, 2021

How about a tourist train?

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Hands up anybody in Mullumbimby that would like to travel by rail to Byron Bay? Hands up the same for Bangalow? Let me tell you this is no pie in the sky.

Being a former State Rail employee I spent many years working these sections and I know that between Mullumbimby and Bangalow is some of the best track on the branch line. It has only a small number of low level bridges, has excellent alignment and surface and was carrying locomotives of up to 130 tonnes in weight.

I believe something like a 600 class 2 car rail motor seating approximately 70 passengers and weighing around 38 tonnes would be very suitable for this existing line. It could operate multiple daily services between Mullumbimby, Byron Bay, Bangalow and return and could be housed at Mullumbimby station yard.

Beachgoers could come into Byron for the day, tourists could take it up to Bangalow for shopping and coffee, commuters could go between the three stations.

The view from the line at St Helena is one of the best views from a railway carriage anywhere in Australia. It could be our answer to Queensland’s Kuranda.

Think of the huge tourism potential this could have for Byron Shire. We’re only talking about 30km of line and bringing it back into service would cost only a fraction of the $75.5m for the rail trail.

Philip J Hill, Booyong


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11 COMMENTS

  1. Philip, I reckon you have a great idea there. I read somewhere that there was a chap who had bought a rail motor to run locally in Byron on the track. I’d love to hear what comes of you two getting your heads together.

  2. The train used to run from Murwillumbah to Byron, and serve a delightful meal and was a tourist attraction. Why can’t we have a light rail that runs from the Gold coast to Byron. This link will also be of great help getting the kids to Tafe’s up the coast, now that our youth have to learn or earn. It will allow them to travel to Tafe’s etc. and open up areas for them to get work, instead of having to leave the area.
    It will also allow the aging population to travel to their hospitals and appointments with ease an the biggy is as the price of petrol starts to eat into the already over burdened budgets of country people pockets (which this governments budget has not even given a thought to).
    Where it takes two full tanks each week to get to work, run children to an from sporting clubs in different country towns, and meet all the other issues that are demanding on the average country person today…………….A LIGHT RAIL WOULD IMPROVE LIFE FOR THESE AN MANY OTHER REASONS.

  3. Phil, in order that we have any chance to see a train back in our region, we need first to stop the tracks being ripped up. TOOT has currently a petition going through the shire to exactly express this concern. No tracks, NO TRAINS – EVER. This is high time. Please everyone support the petition.

  4. I was born in 1853 and came to the Northern Rivers region in 1880 when only cedar getter tracks allowed me travel thru this region.I lobbied the government to build the railway line between Casino and Byron Bay as it was originally going to run between Casino and Tenterfield,bringing wool to the boats on the Richmond River and to then be taken to Sydney and Melbourne.Luckily we had built a jetty at Byron Bay and this gave us the power to divert the rail line to this area.The dairy farms sprouted up and the trains carried milk to the factories in Lismore,Bexhill,Binna Burra, Byron Bay and Mullumbimby to name a few.Surf carnivals attracted crowds on the weekends and the children would travel to some of the schools by train as the roads are not like they are today.The line followed the winding valleys but in some places tunnels needed to be dug. We needed trains as motor cars would not become prevalent until circa 1910,I would travel by horse and buggy most of the time although this was also a problem with our wet climate and red soils.We pushed to have the train line moved to go thru Mullumbimby instead of thru Brunswick Heads, it was becoming a ghost town after the Byron Bay jetty opened and the buildings got moved to Mullumbimby.The whaling kept the crowds filling the train on weekends wanting to see the gruesome slaughter of these wonderful creatures.During my later years the dairy farms slowly disappeared and the population moved to the coastal towns and the train would not be filled with travellers but for bananas and cement.Sadly the route that worked brilliantly in the late 1800s and up to the mid/late 1900s is not suitable to fulfil our coastal population corridor in the 2000s.But do like what we did back in 1880 and lobby for a route that will satisfy this new population corridor to carry us thru to the year 2114.Otherwise we will end up with just a “long paddock” .I would have loved a rail trail back in the 1880s for my horse instead of having to tackle the Big Scrub.

    • 1800’s.. HAHAHAHAHA yes that is definitely where your head is at Geoff !!! i think you have a selective memory, if you were here in the 1990s you would have remembered the very popular and profitable Gold Cost Motorail … or are you still in the 1800’s with your horse and cart ? Hahaha

  5. Yes Angie I have lived here from 1964 ,catching a double decker bus from Byron Bay to Mullum High School in the 70s, sitting at The Rails in the 80s and 90s seeing more people in the pub than on the Motor Rail,catching buses to Sydney because the train was too slow on the windy Northern Line.Catching the bus to Lismore in the 60s and 70s because the train was too slow .I want a train line route that is built for now and the future ,not for the what it was designed for the 1880s.

  6. Geoff, so you support he extra gruelling, labourious Countrylink buses that are an apology for a train! Transport = airports that do not go to all areas & more buses on our Northern Rivers roads where there have been many vehicle crashes and as you would know, AlSO on the FREEWAY! What do we get? MORE BUSES! People did not only go to Byron to google at the whales as you commented. I have been told, families caught the train from Bangalow to Billinudgel, then walked New Brighton. FOR LOCALS – either as tourists or everyday activities and FOR THE TOURISTS who come to our Northern Rivers! Destination Tweed constantly state about the increased population and their promotions continue to only include roads & airports! They are promoters of the rail trail!
    Apparently you do not know about Tim Fischer, former Deputy Prime Minister,Geoff. Tim Fischer IS FOR TRAINS! How terrible of him according to you & the Coaltion who are putting so many people in danger on more buses on more gridlocked roads than now, shame on them but they continue to ‘shoot themselves in the foot’,totally ignoring the wider commuter needs & wants! To their peril. Arrogance comes before a fall. Jillian Spring

  7. Passenger trains don’t and never will make a profit ,it is a means of moving thousands of people but at great expense to tax payers.The Sydney rail network costs $3.5 billion per year to run but only gets a return of about $750 million from ticket sales ,a loss of about 75%. That is ok because it does keep some cars off the roads.The M5 was built to relieve congestion but that just attracted more people to drive cars,they are now adding even more lanes to the M5. If we reinstate the existing train corridor then the state government will expect our shire councils and developers to build sprawling subdivisions along the line to make maximum use of the trains.The population corridor these days is along the coastal strip and the inland development areas are not within a reasonable distance of the old train line.All reports regarding train and bus travel require people to live within 800 metres from the train stations or within 500 metres from a bus route for them to be effective. Using the 5km distance from a train station as being suitable for access is just plain ludicrous and no transport study uses this figure. The absolute maximum for somebody to walk to a train station is about 1.5km and about 800 metres to a bus route. Yes we want trains but not thru vacant countryside,push for a new corridor that services people living within 1km of a train station and also for a bus service that travels within 700 metres of your home.

  8. Reinstate the old track with new commuter trains and build a new track on the coast, Link them together. I love it lets do it.
    Lets pay for it with our taxes,

  9. We need train transport to Lismore,Casino & all the villages along the way! Have a go at those countrylink buses – an apology for decent train transport! The Gov just love all everyone who says no train to all the villages & towns on the Casino to Murwillumbah railway! They just ‘love’ you Geoff. They want the job easy & you are making it easy for them! They ‘love’ you doing their negative work for them! Does everybody live 1km from airports?! The people over the WHOLE NORTHERN RIVERS/TWEED, NEED & WANT TRAIN TRANSPORT. That’s my report that I go by! Politicians just love to use those same reports you state Geoff as they have with the claytons rail corridor study & the ARUP rail trail study. Jillian Spring

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