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Byron Shire
April 16, 2021

Rail trail is not public transport

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It’s so lovely to cycle around the shire. How can anyone seriously consider a rail trail part of a public transport solution?

It is so ridiculous, it is difficult to find words for it. I have talked to hundreds of people while petitioning for a light rail integrated transport option in the region, who do not see cycling between towns as their idea of public transport.

It is not good for the vast majority of residents. Some people want a cycling path too, but as soon as they find out it means ripping up the tracks and the end of any rail prospects forever, they see the flaw of the current proposal.

The government must go back to the drawing board.

If they are not prepared to do a new study that includes tourism, a staged restoration of the line, a repair (and not a demolish and rebuild) costings assumptions, they should leave their hands off the rail corridor.

Any potential public money for a rail trail must be diverted to a regional rail service.

Jens Krause, Byron Bay

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  1. I live 3km from Byron Bay train station,do I walk to the station (free) ,do I get a taxi to the station ($12) ,do I catch a bus to the station ($5) or do I drive my car to the station? Will they turn Butler St market grounds into a huge car park for the train travellers (carpark fee say $10 per day). I then have to pay for my train ticket.
    I would prefer the 300 metre walk to the bus routes that cover a much larger portion of our community and deliver me closer to my destination ie Uni,Hospital,shops. Have you had to walk from the Lismore train station to the CBD ,University,Hospital? It is a very long walk or you have to get a bus or taxi which is double handling and an extra cost.
    Even if the train is extended to the border it won’t go into Tweed Heads,it will go straight to the airport at Kirra/Tugun.
    Our high population growth areas of Lennox Head/ Ballina/ Alstonville/ Goonellabah /Brunswick Heads/ Pottsville /Cabarita will be left without a train if we proceed to resurrect the 1880s designed corridor.
    So yes for a train on a well thought out new corridor to cater for the now and future growth corridor .And yes for more public buses to pick you up within 500 metres of your home and drop you within 500 metres of your destination.Doubling handling and costs will deter people from using trains.

  2. I welcome the rail trail.

    It will be good to see the corridor remaining in public hands while also providing transport benefits.

    A functioning rail trail is better than a disused corridor standing as testament to an unsustainable railway.

    It would be good to see a future light rail development running on renewable resources at some stage in the future sharing this or other corridors. However, that is a future vision. It is not near happening and we deal in the truths of the present reality, so it will be good to see it revived for a healthy, pleasurable form of active transport. It may actually be the best way to progress the future in which our motor vehicle dependent habits are broken, ultimately accelerating mass transit over the private car.

    Jens has made some loaded statements in his letter which are unrepresentative and untrue. It suggests that the “some people” he quotes are not being fully informed by him.

    Jens’ order to the government that they must go back to the drawing board will result in more of nothing. I suggest Jens goes back to the drawing board to review the truth of the way this project is represented.

    Best wishes to those attempting to achieve this positive outcome for the community. My family and I look forward to visiting it at some future date.

    Jai Cooper
    Port Macquarie

  3. People who keep repeating the propaganda that a rail trail will save the Casino to Murwillumbah trail line are misleading the community. Once legislation is passed to allow over $75m of taxpayers’ money to be spent ripping up the rail line for a rail trail (we can have a train service for little more) it will allow the government to sell off the valuable land to developers.

    This is the only reason the state government are showing any interest in a rail trail-it allows them to do what they’ve always wanted.

    People on the Central Coast and the Hunter Valley are very happy to catch buses to and from their regular train services into the city. The cost of the bus can very easily be included in train tickets. Many people in Byron Shire and on the North Coast can quite easily ride their bikes to the stations.

    Technology is being developed right now in Europe and elsewhere for more environmentally friendly trains that don’t run on diesel, but we won’t get them if we allow our corrupt politicians to continue dancing to the tune of their corporate bosses. People might want to read “Bankers and lawyers get rich pushing roads” SMH 2-3 August.

  4. The “rail trail is not a public transport solution” argument is of course just a straw dog. Most rail trails are not public transport. They are more about healthy sustainable recreational tourism. And there are very few equivalents.
    The bigger question that’s really being ducked here is “Is a reinstated railway an Eco-sustainable economical transport solution?” By any analysis the answer will be “no”.
    Even disregarding the inefficiencies and emissions of old diesel engines and the enormous fossil fuel consumption per likely user, the opportunity cost of the giant subsidies needed is money that could be more usefully spent on environmental protection.
    The idea for this old long-distance public transport link to morph into a new commuter service for daily travel back and forth between regional centres up to 100km apart is antithetical to fundamental concepts of sustainable urban form where people actually live where they work, study & shop.
    Yes, railways are really brilliant for public mass transit and bulk freight. But that doesn’t mean you have to automatically lockstep into the “4 legs good, 2 legs bad” ideological mantra every time there’s a question of railways vs. another option.

  5. Talking about opportunity costs. How about the opportunity costs of using a $4 to $6 billion rail corridor for a cycling way ONLY( not my figures, but the figures of a NSW parlamentary committee report from 2012 into rail costings for a brand new rail line of the equivalent length of our railline). I always have championed a cycle path next to the rail line, the best use of the public land. Otherwise we will end up with a very expensive cycling path to suit the few.

  6. The Casino to Murwillumbah Railway corridor does not ‘only link up regional centres’ 100kms apart but villages/towns along the way & where people can carry their shopping, etc. Mayor Barry Longland said, “Cyclists & walkers travel light.” So there will not be too much shopping will there, except for eat & sleep which is also envisaged for the trains with B&Bs etc along the way at certain points but just think, with connecting bike trails to travel further from the accompanying rail corridor. Isn’t this a better idea than just one or the other? Go for both. That would really be meeting all the communities needs/wants. Jillian Spring


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