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Byron Shire
January 18, 2022

Rail trail a worthy project

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As an enthusiastic supporter of the rail trail, I am surprised that your correspondent Jim Richardson could refer to us as a ‘political lobby group’.

We simply recognise that the reintroduction of trains is highly unlikely and that the rail corridor could be wonderfully re-imagined for the benefit of the whole community, as similar rail lines have been all over the world.

Having ridden many of these, I know what wonderful holidays are to be had riding trails through small and large townships, stopping at local attractions along the way.

Rail trails enable all age groups to participate, they are a great family holiday and the gentle gradient also means that people in wheelchairs can participate.

It will be a great asset to the northern rivers region, giving thousands of locals and visitors the freedom to explore, ride and walk without the dangers of traffic and pollution.

The generous donation from the Bangalow BBQ and Bluegrass Festival is a recognition of the worth of the project.
 
Jill McCann, Suffolk Park


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18 COMMENTS

  1. As of the 13th August 2014 the online petitions on Community Run has the following support figures.
    Rail Trail supporters 3670.
    Train (maybe with rail trail) supporters 957.
    So from these figures it shows that there is huge support for a rail trail with or without trains.At least get a trial rail trail between Cemetary Rd and the Industrial Estate to show what a fantastic benefit this will be to our community.
    At least allow the Northern Rivers Rail Trail group to showcase what will be the busiest Rail Trail in the South Pacific. Go to Victoria or New Zealand and check out a what their rail trails have done to the small dying rural towns ,they are booming and allowing young kids to stay in their home towns.

  2. Yes, lets just get on with it! Nothing will happen if we don’t get the rail trail. You won’t believe how good it will be! Even people who don’t like the idea will find themselves using it all the time once they see how beautiful, safe and pollution free it will be.

  3. I would like to say a big thank you to the organisers of the Bangalow BBQ and Bluegrass festival for their generous support of the rail trail. As Jill says the trail has huge potential to become a world class eco-tourism attraction in our beautiful part of the world. It would be a shame to spend another 10 years arguing for the re-introduction of trains on the line while such a beautiful asset goes to waste.

  4. How about over 3,000 real signatures on paper petitions in support of rail, who all say no to Rail Trail without a rail service. The community is not behind a ‘winner takes all’ rail trail only proposal, which came to light after a series of very dodgy reports from the NSW government. Rail Trail may have its merrits, either in a far away location with few people living along the rail line such as Otago in NZ, or in Victoria, or the stance of exclusive use needs to be abandoned and a Rail with Trail solution be found. Ripping up the tracks does not sit easy with many residents.

    • 3,000 real signatures on paper petitions in support of rail? Where can we see or check these figures? If they can’t be publicly confirmed, they remain hearsay. Why can’t train supporters demonstrate their support for all to see?

    • Don’t worry, they are real. I personally have been involved with about 1,000. Some have been presented to parlament some will in the near future.

      • Jens, I’d like to take your word for it, but it doesn’t work like that. Figures in the public domain show overwhelming support for the rail trail. Train supporter figures are all smoke and mirrors, the only quantitative data are the online petitions.

          • Saying so doesn’t make it so Angie. TOOT supporters expect us all to believe these figures. Even if they do exist, what question was asked? I suspect it was something like “would you prefer a train or nothing”. Were people accosted in the street or bullied into signing? You say all this was above board, well sorry Angie we need something that can be confirmed, why can’t train supporters express their opinions publicly for all to see. By the way Angie, why did you change the wording of your online petition AFTER many people had already signed it? The link still says ‘casino to murwillumbah rail with trails and beyond” but the petition was changed to remove any mention of trail from the title or the dot point summary. Please explain!

  5. The Northern Rivers Bushwalkers Club with over 170 members voted unanimously at a recent club meeting to support the rail trail. As cycling co-ordinator for this organisation I can tell you that there will be at least one club event on the rail trail per week and probably more. From my experience of riding rail trails around the world I believe the Casino Murwillumbah rail trail will be extremely popular with locals as well as visitors.

  6. Rail Trails are most definitely not transport; for some people riding a bike to work in some areas, ok but for the wider community, a rail trail does not meet their transport needs. The rail trail is presented by Gov as tourism. Trains are tourism. This area is not the only area that want trains back. People are fed up travelling on buses & on roads. Family & friends drive their family member of friend to the Casino Railway Station as they do not want to travel on buses to the station. By the way, what is the cost of the Countrylink buses? That is a question that is never answered & I have asked that question to Don Page MP, the Min for Transport, in letters in newspapers, over radio & personally asked in conversarion, to no avail. I wonder why? Methinks ‘they’ (the Gov & ….?) do not want that $$$$ cost to be revealed. By their omission of an answer that seems to be the only reason? Jillian Spring

  7. Jillian, could you be a bit more specific about your conspiracy theory, I don’t really get it. By the way, in Australia, trains are not tourism. Maybe they are in Western Europe where there is a population above 400M to support a fast, convenient and modern system. If you bring back the train it will be a prohibitive burden on the taxpayer, it will be of little consequence to tourism (biggest passenger demographic will be concession card holders) and it will be so expensive and inconvenient to use that one person could drive from Casino to Murwillumbah in a V8 Falcon for half the money in one quarter of the time. On top of that, the train won’t even deliver you to your actual destination, you’ll still need a taxi or a bus. If you drive a fuel efficient car with one passenger, its a no-brainer. Community transport is a proven alternative to rigid schedules for plugging holes in public transport systems. Community Transport can respond flexibly and economically to individual or group needs.

  8. When Barry O’Farrell promised ‘a sixteen-a- day commuter train service’ he said it would cost about $1.6m per year to run, which would come in under the $2.8m per year cost of the Countrylink bus service. Even if those cost estimates are doubled or tripled it’s still cheap.

    There is something very sinister about rail trailers so obsessively demanding $75m + be spent ripping up a valuable piece of public infrastructure, the rail line, for a rail trail, when it’s completely unnecessary. Both can co-exist on the same corridor. That’s the real prohibitive cost burden on taxpayers.

    The developers in Newcastle, who funded politicians campaigns with $10,000 wads of cash in brown paper bags delivered in Bentleys, similarly want the Newcastle line ripped up so they can develop the valuable land.

  9. Hmm nothing sinister about spending 75m to create a wonderful rail trail that will be well used as opposed to spending 900m on a train that only a handful of nostalgic train supporters will use. Louise, I challenge you to get out of Byron and look at other sections of the line. The single track easement is simply too narrow to allow both the train and trail. And besides why would a government want to fund a train that doesn’t even serve the major populations areas of the north coast? The current Murwillumbah to Casino bus is under utilised and heavily subsidised. Why would the train be any different? Let’s not wait another 10 years and let this fantastic opportunity for a rail rail pass.

  10. Between 2003 and 2006 petitions with over 11,000 signatures of people wanting a train service were presented to state parliament by Thomas George MP, Catherine Cusack MLC and Lee Rhianon MLC.

    All recorded in Hansard, no smoke or mirrors needed. Soon there’ll be another 10,000 presented.

  11. Interesting discussion!
    I supported for many years the return of the train but accept now that it will not be coming back any time soon. If you pay any notice to politics, you will see that spending on infrastructure – unless of course you’re talking about roads – is passe. For instance the federal spokesman (or parliamentary secretary?) for infrastructure Josh Frydenberg recently referred to the provision of public transport as “social engineering” – the worst insult a free marketeer could possibly sling.
    Anyway, the point is that the train will not be coming back any time soon. I support the rail train NOT for all the supposed economic benefits that it promises (and the 60 – 70000 chumps on bikes that it will allegedly inundate our region with) but as part of a system of sustainable transport.
    All those who want the train as public transport should look at the Blanches buses plying the shire currently – they are hardly overflowing. You can not seriously suggest that you would use the train as public transport if you do not presently catch the &%$#@!* bus!
    On the other hand, there are a few of us for who transport is bicycle – full stop.
    In fifty years when Byron Shire is an outlying Brisbane suburb you’ll likely get your beloved train back – but I doubt that it will go TOOT TOOT and release a burst a steam as it does in your nostalgic visions.

  12. Great letter Dave and well said!

    Hmm interesting…Louise, so over 8 years ago you had over 11,000 signatures? And all these people are going to use the train every day to commute to work from say Murwillumbah to Byron or Casino?

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