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Byron Shire
January 24, 2022

Development has moved away from old rail line

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A few points for your readers to ponder on the bus, train and rail trail issue.

The train line will need to be a twin track system to allow trains to run in both directions regularly and to provide a viable transport thru our region. This will require widening and raising the roof of the historic tunnels wrecking their heritage factor forever; a rail trail will allow locals and tourists to see this engineering feat from the 1880s.

The radius curves of the old corridor will fix us with a VST (Very Slow Train) forever, the same as has happened in north Qld on the Brisbane to Cairns system.

The old corridor is not the growth corridor for population: it has moved to the coastal stretch from Kingscliff to Pottsville, Brunswick Heads to Ballina and Alstonville to Goonellabah. Do we spend billions of dollars on a train that doesn’t supply public transport to this growth corridor?

If the old train corridor is returned to trains then housing suburbs will sprout along it: it will look like the sea of houses along the Robina to Brisbane train line.

Buses will still be required to deliver you to the train stations if you live more than 800 metres away (double handling and time consuming). Little villages of Billinudgel, Stokers Siding, Mooball etc will be again be shaken by trains every 30 minutes and through the early hours of the morning (trains will also cater for the late night revellers).

Why not use our energy to start with a regular bus service that will pick you up closer to your home and drop you closer to your destination?

The drinkers would benefit from the old train corridor as every town has a pub within 100 metres! We could be become Drinkers Paradise in competition with Surfers Paradise!

Take these points, ponder and ask do we really want a 1880s-designed train corridor or a train system to take us into the next century? Grab buses also as they have approx the same end-of-life carbon output as trains.

Geoff Bensley, Byron Bay

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  1. Geoff, I can’t help but wonder what your real objection to the train is, do you live in Billinudgel, Stokers Siding, Mooball? It is totally infeasible for the government to buy up more land to to replace the entire railway, we are finding difficult to convince them fix the one that is there. Also I’d hardly call Lismore, Bangalow, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah as towns that are not supporting large, viable populations. Imagine the opportunities, especially for young people if the train line was restored? Not to mention the opportunities for tourism, it could take some of the pressure off Byron Bay and promote tourism in other places such as Lismore or Murwillumbah. There is no competition for bus services in this area and as a result the public transport here is well below par.

    The train line would not need 2 lines, it would be great, not essential with a good workable timetable. The tunnels served large steam trains, I’m sure that light rail will be no problem. As for the booze train, better a few people catch a train home than hop in the cars and drive which is why we have one of the highest drink driving rates in NSW.

    I’m not against the rail-trail per say. But why can’t it be built beside the exiting line without destroying it, why can’t we have both?

  2. Wendzee why are you so hell bent on destroying the 8 historic tunnels to allow a rail trail to fit inside the tunnels? The tunnels will need to be widened to allow a rail trail to coexist with a train. But maybe that will be a great boom for your nighttime business ? So Wendzee you are supplying a single track train for yesterday’s population along the line ,what about in 10 or 20 years when a twin track will be required.
    You must be dreaming if you think the government will spend $1B on a train system that must provide a viable public transport for at least the next 100 years. If you don’t widen the tunnels for a twin track system we will have the same train system that we have had for the last 100 years ,what a backward step.

    • Would it be that bad for the push bike track to go around the tunnels and the other sections that wouldn’t accommodate both the push bike track and the rail track side by side. It’s called compromising.

      • I have to agree with Les and Wendzee here. I would much prefer to use the track and tunnels that are already in place and ALSO provide a rail trail which goes around the tunnels, it would be awesome. So many benefits of having the trains going again, they only need to go a handfull of times a day and a few a night, it would benefit the younger people, the drinkers and the tourists not to mention families but it would also be great for walkers and riders. Lets do both!

  3. Les that would be a great idea but overlay a map of the train and road/fire trail maps and you will see that it will work in a few sections but impossible in a few sections.

  4. The Arup study claims that the C-M Rail line does not align with the region’s growth corridor along the coast, and that by 2031 between Ballina and Byron will be a high growth area. What is this based on? When you think about the history of the area, when our region relied on agriculture and the rail, the line WAS the growth corridor of the area, with many small villages sprouting from the rail line. What happened when the rail line closed was that town populations along the line slowed down or declined, and as the Pacific Highway became the dominant transport route, people and farmers moved towards the coast where they had better access to transport and services. From 2004 when the line closed, Lismore’s population growth slowed and Ballina’s population boomed.
    However, Rail Lines are known to encourage growth and development, and reinstating the line could revitalise Lismore and some other towns along the line. The existing rail line connects villages Bexhill, Bangalow and Mullumbimby all of which will have housing developments in the near future. The rail line also connects to Billinudgel, which in the last 10 years has grown into the suburb of Ocean Shores. Connecting Byron Bay to affordable housing throughout the Shire would eliminate the ‘need for housing’ in Byron Bay, such as the West Byron Development proposal.
    As for the cost, estimated at $950 million by Arup. This cost is the upper limit total costs including removing the track and building a new double-track to heavy rail standard (for XPT or frequent Railcars), as well as 50% risks and contingencies which I’ve heard is unusual for a rail corridor that is already existing.
    If you are really concerned about the rail line being close to populations, then the best rail route would be from Casino to Yelgun on the existing line, and then north from Yelgun to Pottsville, Kingscliff and Tweed where the highest increase in traffic is expected. That way you could still keep your tunnels between Yelgun and Murwillumbah for a rail trail. A Byron-Ballina-Lismore rail link could be investigated in the future but at the moment this is the only section of rail that has not had any costs estimated.


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