12.3 C
Byron Shire
April 13, 2021

Light rail is the only way to go

Latest News

Local sailor triumphs in blustery Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race

Local sailor Craig Watson battled near gale-force winds on Coopers to have one of his best ever Brisbane to Gladstone yacht races claiming fourth place in line honours.

Other News

Local collaboration formed to feed people rather than landfill

Feeding people at the same time as reducing food waste is the aim of a new regional food donation campaign initiated by NE Waste.

Half-price quarantine a step in the right direction, says NSW Farmers’ Association

NSW Farmers’ Association says it's pleased that calls for the subsidisation of quarantine costs for agricultural workers have been heard by the NSW Government.

Local photographer finalist in National Portrait Prize

Lismore-based photographer R J Poole is one of eighty finalists from over 3,000 entries in this year's Living Memory: National Photographic Portrait Prize.

Brunswick Heads surf lifesaver wins gold 

Brunswick Heads surf lifesaver Paul ‘Punchy’ Davis won gold in the 600m paddle board race

Maybe Canberra needs a bit of distraction biff

Mick breathed in but his Cronulla Sharks football jersey struggled to contain his well-insulated six-pack and he held up his hand as he approached Bazza in the front bar of the Top Pub.

My own pandemic imaginations

Robert Podhajsky, Ocean Shores Imagination is a powerful mechanism; I must admit I get unsettled with my own pandemic imaginations...

Garth Luke’s statement that a low population density is a reason against light rail is poorly considered on many fronts.

First, major population centres are all clustered along the line connecting Byron Bay, Mullumbimby, Lismore, Bangalow, Billinudgel (Ocean Shores), Casino, Murwillumbah and many smaller centres.

A low regional population density is thus irrelevant when it comes to the majority of the population accessing the line. Eighty-six per cent of residents in Byron and Lismore LGAs live within 5km of the line.

Second, our proximity to major population centres such as Gold Coast and Brisbane as well as the rapidly expanding Coolangatta international airport matters and means that we need to connect our rail to the Queensland rail network sooner rather than later or suffer increasing traffic gridlock, particularly in coastal areas.

Third, population densities do not account for the 1.5 million tourists to Byron Shire each year.

Interesting double standard regarding tourism benefits. Whereas the rail trail proposal is dependent on attracting tourists, the discredited transport study into rail conveniently did not include the five million visitors to the region in their patronage modelling.

As well as this exclusion for local travel, the study ignored the suggestion put forward by Council that rail could ease the burden on roads and communities if tourists could arrive by train.

Regarding Mr Garth Luke’s comments on public transport, most of the centres mentioned above are serviced by local bus services.

It is connecting between these centres that is the biggest problem. A train links all these local buses resulting in a much better connected public transport network.

In turn this connectivity will likely drive expansion of local bus services as locals and tourists are presented with expanded travel options.

Cr Basil Cameron, Goonengerry

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Cr Basil Cameron you should be reading the public transport studies to realize that 95% of people won’t walk more than 800 metres to a train station or 500 metres to a bus route. Light rail needs to have stations located no more than 1.6km apart (in high population areas) to be effective . Using the figure of 5km from a train station is just the same as using 10km ,as any distance above 1km from a station will require taxis,buses or private cars to get your majority of elderly,infirm or workers to the station. Do you envisage large multistory carparks to store the commuters cars all day in Bangalow,Byron Bay,Mullumbimby?
    Light rail with diesel engines ,how backward.No it will be a spider web of metal poles and wires spread from Murwillumbah to Casino.But even this will be impossible due to the tight radius curves on the corridor and would require cutting down a huge swathe of trees to allow safe usage of electricity,we wouldn’t want a bush fire like happened in Victoria from power lines touching the trees.
    As I wrote before I live in the low population suburb of Suffolk Park,do I walk 3km to the train station,catch a bus or taxi or do I drive my car to the multistory carpark ?
    Don’t forget that trains started here in the 1890s before cars, and the only means of transport was by horse and buggy. Even in the 60s and 70s buses transported us from Byron Bay to schools in Mullum and Lismore,why didn’t they use the train ; because it was used for freight mainly.Of course my father would travel by steam train to Mullum High School in the 1940s but we now have schools in most larger towns.
    Grab the rail trail or we will be left with a weed corridor that nobody will be able to use.

    • Quote/”Grab the rail trail or we will be left with a weed corridor that nobody will be able to use.”

      Geoff what are the rail trail plans to deal with weeds, is there a policy for dealing with them within the rail trail Plan?

      • That,s where integrated transport system comes to mind. No one should walk 3 or 5 or 10 km to a railway station. Not from Suffolk Park nor from Ocean Shores. Cycling is an option, park and ride, so is a mini bus service running through the subburbs to connect to the hourly rail service in the morning and in the evening. The backpackers show, how it’s done. THe environment will win, with or without diesel engines. Modern Light rail diesel engines are highly effective.

  2. Let’s face it, Australia has one of the highest car ownerships per captia. Cr Basil Cameron do you really expect families going to Byron from say Brisbane with their kids, bikes, pets, surfboards etc to drive to Murwillumbah, wait for a train (no pets allowed on trains) then unload or their things on to a train when they can just continue on the highway to Byron? Or how many people commute between Murwillumbah, Byron and beyond on a daily basis? If the future is to link the train to the QLD line then surely building a new straighter and faster line along the coast would be the best solution rather than spending close to a billion dollars to refurbish a line that was designed for 1800s steam engines?

    The Brisbane to Gold Coast train reaches speeds of 140km/h (whereas I read the top speed on the current Mur’bah to Casino line would be 80km/h) and can provide a viable alternative to driving yet interestingly enough the Gold Coast highway is still gridlocked at peak-hour. Just because there is a train service does not mean everyone is going to stop driving.

    The rail trail offers are truly unique and world class opportunity that will be used by tourists and locals alike. It will bring economic benefits to small communities along the line. This has been repeatedly demonstrated on other rail trails such as the Murray to the Mountains rail trail in Vic and the Otago rail trail in New Zealand. I for one would use the trail as a safe place to cycle with my two young children.

  3. Some people need to get out of their cars and have a look at what is going on around us.

    Technology is moving fast and soon much more environmentally friendly means of powering trains will be available. But we won’t get them if we allow corrupt politicians to waste over $75m of taxpayer’s money ripping up the line for another tourist gimmick.

    Gold Coast residents, and tourists, are happy to travel long distances from Surfers Paradise and elsewhere to use the Gold Coast to Brisbane train. Many people from the North Coast use that train, driving long distances to do so, often standing for many kilometres as the usually train’s packed. And many people take their bikes with them to use at the other end.

    Of course the original line that came down to Tweed, but was ripped up in the 1960s by some political genius, would have been much more convenient for all-but that’s progress for you.

  4. Cr Cameron’s argument conflates light rail and heavy rail. His imagined commuter scenario is actually something like the 150km Long Island Railroad into Manhattan. That works because rich people want to live in the country and work in the city and are prepared to pay for a fast sleek heavy rail service to achieve it. But it’s a lot different to a tram. Trams are much smaller, lots slower, have much shorter routes and stop frequently in their urban setting.
    You just can’t have it both ways.
    The light rail tram option needs maybe half a billion dollars for electrification, new track & new rolling stock. The heavy train option is stuck on the old 30kph right-of-way and recycles early 20C technology that’s inefficient & polluting. Both options will be short about the 50000 extra paying patrons per day needed to make them viable. Not much of a choice.
    That’s why not one of the many political promises of reinstatement over the last decade has ever been honoured.
    On the other hand a rail trail IS possible, if not blocked by those with an impossible dream.

    • It is easy to throw around big numbers . Where does the half a billion dollars come from? Regional trams, light rail can actually travel faster than 80 km/h. But who says, that 80 km[h is not enough. You won,t beat an air plane, but you have a good chance to beat the snail traffic in some of our towns. Those local trains/trams would be well frequented, making the argument of diesel pollution obsolete.

  5. Trains being able to travel in fairly straight lines with speeds above 110km/h are worth while.Trains on the 1880 designed snake like twisting track at 80km/h is not worthwhile.Developers would prefer trains as they can then rezone rural land for sprawling subdivision like they have done next to the train corridor between Gold Coast and Brisbane. But maybe that is why some of these people want the old rail line resurrected .

    The weeds and bush have already taken over the corridor, rail trails will bring environmental bush rejuvenators,trains will bring John Holland contractors with glysophospate and large tree munching machinery to clean the corridor.

  6. The fact is the rail trail has found to be viable while reinstating the trains on the old line is not. Let’s not wait another 10 years! The rail trail will preserve the rail corridor, with or without rails should the train found to be viable in the future.

  7. Compared to the speed of cars and buses trapped in gridlock on Shirley St, or, driving in circles around Byron, Mullumbimby and Bangalow, looking for a parking spot, trains traveling at 80ks get people to their destination much quicker. As they do on the Central Coast, the Hunter Valley and the Gold Coast. Commuter trains stopping regularly at stations aren’t able to get up speed.

    Politicians are responsible for the neglect of the valuable rail corridor. It’s an old trick-allow public infrastructure to fall apart and then claim too much money needs to be spent to fix it. Fortunately North Coast people aren’t falling for that one.

  8. As Damon says let’s not wait 10 years for the trail to be put to use while people bicker over its ‘ideal’ use. Sadly, those wishing for a return of rail are simply delusional. It’s not going to happen folks..

  9. It’s delusional to think Northern Rivers people will sit idly by while politicians waste $75m of our money ripping up the line for tourist gimmicks that will not provide transport for anyone, when we could have both trains and trails for little more!

  10. It’s delusional that Louise and the TOOT supporters won’t let their nostalgic train dream go. An independent engineering study found the reopening the line to be NOT VIABLE. It is also delusional to spend close to a billion dollars of tax payer money on a train line that hardly anyone will use and won’t alleviate the traffic problems in Byron. This is the old and worn-out argument for re-instating the train and not supporting a world class rail trail that will bring responsible tourism and much needed economic benefit out of Byron and into the small regional villages such as Mooball, Burringbar, Stokers Siding etc.

    • Anyone who has spent a bit of time on the transport study knows that the figures are based on unreal assumptions, which would produce a total reconstruction of the line, goldplating the entire infrastructure. That study has been totally discredited. Unfortunately those who only read headlines use this missinformation repeadetly to make their point.

  11. When Barry O’Farrell promised ‘that a 16 trains day commuter train service’ ‘could be reinstated within 3 weeks the Coalition wining the state election’ he said it would cost about ‘$1.6m a year to run’ which came in under the $2.8m cost of the current bus service’ (unquote)

    And there’s more. He said the next step would be to build a rail link from Murwillumbah to the Gold Coast.

    Everyone knows politicians set up studies to produce the outcomes they want, no matter how outrageous the numbers are. Most of the time they get away with it.

    Regardless of what activity is proposed for the line, the restoration costs will be the same. For over ten years the community has been saying they want a train service. They do not want $75m of taxpayers’ money wasted ripping up the valuable rail line for tourist gimmicks that will not provide transport for anyone.

    There’s a long history of many people using the train to get around the North Coast and to and from the beach prior to the timetable being changed in 1990. When people were no longer able to use the train as a daily commuter service, inevitably patronage dropped; which was then used as an excuse to discontinue the train service! That’s how politicians operate.

    Spending $75m to rip the line up cannot be justified when it will cost little more to have both trains and trails on the same corridor, as they have in Victoria.

  12. I think readers should be aware that the quote from Barry O’farrell that Louise was referring to was made some 8 years ago in 2006! Time to move on maybe? Politicians do break promises. Nothing new here. The rail feasibility study in 2013 found there would not be sufficient demand for a train service based on the old route that does not even service the major population centers of Tweed Heads and Ballina.

    Where is this long history of people using the train to go to Byron (which is the only beach the train would service)? Maybe in the 50s and 60s??

    With regards to having the trains and trails there simply isn’t the room, especially with the northern sections of the line that I have personally walked. Most of the line is single track with a lot of bridges and tunnels. The corridor would have to be widened, land acquired and new tunnels built to have a rail with trail. This would be a massive cost all for a train service that doesn’t serve the majority of the population of the north coast region. The 75 million for the trail is a fraction of the cost to reinstate the line and like other rail trails would provide eco friendly transport modes (bikes, electric bikes, horses, walking etc) for tourists and locals.

    It’s unfortunate election promises have been broken but it really time for the pro train folk to ‘clear the rails’ for a viable rail trail rather than wait another decade!

  13. In the early 80s I lived in Byron Bay and worked at Lismore . If I could have used a train I would have needed to walk to the train station (1.6km) , train travel time about 1hour minimum ,then walk or catch taxi from Lismore Train station into the CBD. Or I could catch the bus which passes within 400 metres of most homes ,takes about 50 minutes and drops me in the CBD. Nobody talks about how do you get from your home to a train station and the extra cost and time in the double handling. Of course back in the 90s time wasn’t such an issue but these days wasted time is very valuable.
    Get a new train line on a better corridor and get buses that pick up and drop you closer to your home or destination. Who wants to walk or bike ride 5km to train station ? We are not as tough as the people from the 1890s and walking long distances is not in vocabulary of a major portion of the population.

  14. How do passengers get to their airport? The planes do not stop at every town, village now do they. Oh, that’s right, the shuttle buses, family or friends drive them to the airports. Now, why don’t they land near people’s homes? Silly me – we all know a plane cannot/does not land at every town/city – so why continue to use that ‘argument’ sprouted about in that ‘claytons’ ARUP Rail Trail Feasibility Study? It actually said on P.57 Without clarity on the future connection requirements with SE Qld, it may be sensible to retain full passive provision across the entire route. READ ALL of 8.2.3 The way forward P.57. Jillian Spring


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Local girls go big at Oz grom cup

Byron Bay’s Leihani Kaloha Zoric won her second Billabong Oz Grom Cup title, taking out the 10-and-under girls division at Park beach in Coffs Harbour last weekend.

Sprout lovers

Sprouts can sometimes be overlooked on the weekly grocery list… except for those in the know, of course!

Interview with Mitch King from Dream Bigger

Dream Bigger is presenting Lismore Youth Festival in partnership with numerous organisations in Lismore. Dream Bigger connects established artists with potential future artists to make their ideas a reality through engaging workshops and collaboration. The Echo spoke to Mitch King from Dream Bigger.

Entertainment in the Byron Shire and beyond for the week beginning 14 April, 2021

Entertainment in the Byron Shire and beyond for the week beginning 14 April, 2021