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Byron Shire
April 22, 2021

Pedal-cart plan could keep rail track in place

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James and Charlie, with parents Alex and Mary-Joy, show how much fun rail carts would be if they were given the go-ahead. Photo Jeff ‘Carted Off Since 1986’ Dawson
James and Charlie, with parents Alex and Mary-Joy, show how much fun rail carts would be if they were given the go-ahead. Photo Jeff ‘Carted Off Since 1986’ Dawson

With all the talk around rail trails and light rail, here’s another idea to consider for our disused railways.

RailExplorers Byron are proposing to use the 13km of abandoned railway line that runs between Banglaow and Byron Bay as a ‘tourism experience’.

Pedal-powered rail carts could wind their way down the region’s spectacular coastal and rural landscapes.

It’s the idea that Alex Catchpoole and Mary-Joy Lu are hoping will be embraced by locals and government, and they have just launched the project after 18 months in research and development.

Fleet of 100 in South Korea

The pair were inspired by the cart’s designer, Yun Jin-Gyu, who operates a fleet of 100 carts in Gokseoung, South Korea. Alex and Mary-Joy are now working with Jin-Gyu in bringing it here.

‘The carts have revitalised once isolated communities,’ Mary-Joy says.

‘We estimate this could generate more than 22 full-time jobs and $1.2 million in wages going back into the local economy every year,’ she says.

‘And it will also provide the government with a valuable revenue stream.

‘Our advice is that there is minimal work to get the track serviceable to run from Bangalow to Byron for this type of operation,’ she says.

She points to the lack of family-friendly activities in the shire and that Railexplorer would be attractive to couples, families and an older demographic. Mary-Joy added that using the track in this way preserves it for future rail use and that Railexplorer could work alongside rail trails, which they both support.

‘Rail carts would be an invitation to travel further to those not ready for the rail trail.’

For more email [email protected] or visit www.facebook.com/railexplorersbyron.

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  1. Not a great idea, heavier than a bicycle, only able to travel in one direction at a time, would require signalling and safe working practices & the potential for a collision is too great. Would be fine with a double track, but who is going to duplicate it. Maintenance of the rails would be an issue as well. Much easier to patch a pothole than to replace a sleeper or rail.

  2. Thanks for the comments and for your interest in RailExplorers Byron.
    Ponyrider and Caspar – thank you! We are lobbying the state and local governments for access to the track. With public support we can make it happen.

    John Holstein – these are important issues, but not insurmountable problems. The experience is a one way trip – our proposal is to start in Bangalow and travel down the hill to Byron Bay. Riders will be shuttled back to Bangalow by bus. In South Korea there is a train that follows the final rider down the track and then brings all the passengers and carts back to the start. This would be great in Byron also, but would require significantly more work to upgrade the track – hopefully one day we can offer this too.
    All level crossings would be monitored by RailExplorers staff to ensure safety and minimal interruption to traffic.
    Track maintenance will be taken care of – RalExplorers is a business, and we will be generating revenue through ticket sales and re-investing in the business and the community.

    John – the idea is to cruise along, enjoying the scenery and the experience, and to relax and take your time. Each railbike departs with some distance from the cart in front, and by managing your speed you can maintain the space between carts. Passing is really not an issue.

    The RailExplorers Byron railbike will be at the local Farmers Markets this week – in Byron on Thursday the 3rd, in Mullum on Friday and in Bangalow on Saturday. Come check it out and say hi!

  3. There is one massive big problem & that is people want/need train transport to meet theri independence to be able to go to all the different happenings that well, – happen – on the northern rivers. We cannot just have roads roads roads; airports – still need roads roads roads to shuttle people to them! The rail trail is one ‘big can of worms’ what with all the planning, LEPs, legislation, arsenic etc on the line & surrounds. The contamination needed to be done when the ARUP Pty Ltd Feasibility Study was done. Why did that not happen?! Desination Tweed continue to state the increase in population. Are we all going to stay on roads roads roads? Jillian Spring

  4. An eco friendly, family friendly activity that will bring tourists to the hinterland, what’s not to like. On days when it’s not beach weather it may even bring a younger crowd up looking for something different to do. People drive cars these days, they don’t take trains. This looks like fun.

  5. We should have an integrated rail system with bike trails connected or next to the tracks, but some people have been getting it into their head that we cant have both and its one or the other – rip up the tracks or not. i dont agree with this logic about one or the other, and i think real rail services should be the priority here in a place that is lacking public transport, but atleast this is another option thrown into the mix. these rail-bikes would be better than a rail-trail because it will help maintain the existing track and not rip them up like the rail-trail group would like to do!

  6. This model works well in Tasmania on the old Gordon railway line – “rail track riders”

    All issues have already been overcome there and it is thriving!!


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