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Byron Shire
May 18, 2024

Rail corridor already in private hands

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When a rail service is restored to Byron Shire and beyond, the railway line will not be built along the previous rail corridor, for obvious reasons: only the financially irresponsible would spend millions of taxpayer dollars restoring a railway line that runs so close to the ocean (mere metres near First Sun Caravan Park) in low-lying swamplands that are destined to be claimed by the ocean.

The new railway line will be located in a more practical location, further inland. Assuming the base hospital is built at Ewingsdale, the station servicing Byron Bay will be located to service the hospital, with bus connection to Byron Bay.

The rail corridor has not been ‘in public hands’ (Marie Lawton – letter to the editor, 22 July) for many years.

The rail corridor and land associated with the railway station is legally publicly owned land, ‘ownership’ is claimed by the corporation known as the state of New South Wales trading as the Department of Roads and Maritime Services, t/as Transport for New South Wales, t/as Transport Railcorp (known as Railcorp), sub-branch Countrylink Rail Authority, sub-sub branch Country Rail Infrastructure Authority (CRIA).

However, our public servants have deemed appropriate to tender their taxpayer funded responsibilities to private enterprise, John Holland Rail Pty Ltd.

The rail corridor, railway station refreshment building and surrounding land (the car park) have been in the ‘hands’ of private enterprise, John Holland Rail Pty Ltd, for many years; and [I believe that] the ‘Property Facilities Management’ of John Holland Pty Ltd has leased that publicly owned land intended to be used by the public [now used as the Railway Friendly Bar].

The good news being, Byron Shire Council does have a legal claim to the disused publicly owned land previously used as a rail corridor; and to the railway refreshment building and car park; with legal argument that the publicly owned [portion] should be used for transport related public use.

The car park area should have an inter-city bus terminal (Countrylink, Greyhound etc); with the railway refreshment building returned to providing non-alcoholic refreshments to the public (including bus customers, tourists).

The new inter-city bus terminal should include a new amenities block, including pay hot showers.

The rail corridor could be turned into a treed bike and pedestrian trail (separating bikes and pedestrians please) with seats, bins and bubblers every kilometre.

Just a suggestion, but a more realistic one than dreaming that the sate government will build a new railway line in the old rail corridor.

Pagan Morgan (Ms), Byron Bay

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  1. Throwing around a lot of names does not make the central claim correct, that the corridor belongs to the John Holland company.

    The State Government has gone into a contractual arrangement with this company to look after the maintenance of the corridor. A good question to ask would be how did John Holland absolve their legal responsibillity over the last 10 years? Who are they accountable for and did they make proper use of the funding for their contractual obligations.

    Creating a new corridor would cost between 4 to 6 billion dollars, if you take the figures from a 2012 rail costing state committee report.

    Having a light rail service which embraces a modern tourism concept is not pie in the sky, but very doable. It might require some private funding, plus there also seems to be a pot of money around from the tourism arm of the government. That needs to be diverted to a regular rail service with cycling ways atteched.

    We do not need the most expensive bicycle track in the world, when our bycicle infrastructure is so poor, as is transport for local people.

  2. From listening to the gentleman from NZ at the Rail Usage meeting last week it shows that the train line from Bangalow west and Yelgun north is not feasible for their tourist train.Dont forget that tourist trains make it too expensive for general public transport, even with “locals” pricing. Unless the NSW Government subsidises the fare then it won’t help the unemployed or retirees . 90% of the passengers on the Murwillumbah to Casino train in 2004 travelled on subsidised concessions.The trams in South Australia block the road crossings for between 35 and 40 seconds ,which is ok in off peak times but Byron Bay and Mullumbimby don’t seem to have off peak periods. 35 seconds may not seem like a long time but with trains or trams running every 15 minutes in both directions during peak times (when more trains will be required ) then Shirley St and Lawson St will be an absolute nightmare,it was bad enough back in 2004 with only two passenger trains per day.As Pagan says it should run past the new hospital with buses taking passengers into the heart of the towns or within 500 metres of their homes (people won’t walk more than 800 metres to a train station or 500 metres to a bus route). Check the buses sitting at the depots in our region most of the day not being used, buses that could be delivering a much better service for our unemployed and retirees than a train service.A bus service that will pick you up and drop you off within 500 metres of your home is much better than having to walk,bike,taxi to a train station up to 5 kms away!
    Ask your local bus company why their buses sit in the depot all day ,only being used during school hours.

  3. Byron Bay is the most easterly point in Australia. So every Australian is at or in Byron or west of Byron. Just where is beyond?

    The rail line runs near the ocean. Now when the train comes back on track just imagine the number of surfies will be on it with surfboards. Enough with the excuses. If a caravan park is not moved by a thundering rolling ocean building up hundreds of kilometres from New Zealand and also the striking searing heat of the first beams of light of the sun to hit this here Southland then neither will a rail line be moved or a sleeper be woken.


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