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Byron Shire
November 30, 2021

Integrated public transport is what’s needed

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Rather than just focusing solely on rail trails, we should be introducing integrated public transport here in the northern rivers.

National Party politicians have promoted rail trails to the detriment of discussing the broader issue of improving public transport options such as rail and bus services.

Our region lacks accessible and affordable public transport options for residents to get to work, study and leisure.

The closure of the Casino-Murwillumbah rail service in 2004 against the community’s wishes, has meant lost opportunities to reduce reliance on cars and alleviate road congestion and maintenance costs.

National Party MPs should not be promoting rail trails while ignoring the critical need for affordable public transport options such as train and bus services.

It’s absurd that the government is contributing $3.3 billion to the $11.5b WestConnex motorway in Sydney, but ignoring the public transport needs of regional communities.

Despite the overinflated figures of the rail feasibility study suggesting it would cost $953 million to return heavy rail services, the cheaper and more viable option of a light rail commuter service was not investigated.

We should also be investigating the option of increased frequency mini-buses, particularly for the significant numbers of commuters who travel daily from the coast to work in Lismore.

The Lismore to Bangalow road is only going to become more congested in the future. With rising fuel costs, impact on roads and potential for accidents, we need to look at smarter integrated transport options that will meet the needs of an aging population as well as young job seekers in a carbon constrained future.

While the Greens are not opposed to the idea of rail trails alongside the existing tracks, any moves to rip up the rail line for rail trails will almost certainly extinguish any chance of restoring the rail at some future date.

Adam Guise, Greens candidate for the seat of Lismore


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17 COMMENTS

  1. This is what should be happening, everything stated in the article is NOTHING BUT PURE FACTS! We must have trains to support a sustainable future here on the Northern Rivers. Im sick and tired of hearing about all the raod crashes here, we must start preventing these accidents therefore saving more lives.

    BRING ON THE TRAINS I SAY!!!!!!

    • No Gary these are not pure facts. The fact is that as a result of the Waterfall rail disaster, the NSW Government will not be operating rail services that are not on par with passenger rail services elsewhere in the State. It will be an electrified twin track and it will be fast and safe or not at all. No amount of tinkering will revive the train without $900M to wipe the slate clean and start again. We need to be much smarter than this if we are to have a sound debate on integrated public transport systems that are affordable. Unrealistic nostalgia about the train is holding us back!

  2. Hi Adam.

    Thank you for your thoughtful letter on this subject. I 100% agree with your view – what’s needed is an integrated public transport solution including light rail and yes, minibuses. The rail trail is simply a distraction from this far more important issue.

  3. Right on Adam! At least the Greens know what is important for the community and the region into the future. Hopefully this will give you added support in the coming election and you will stand as a great alternative to those of the Nationals and the Labor Party who would have us riding bikes and horses from town to town. Hardly a third millennium transport solution! A fully integrated transport system is the way to go with a central role for rail. Looking forward to you talking up this issue all the more and bringing all the more embarrassment and shame to our incumbent state members who have not only failed us in not representing our wants and needs they have actively betrayed us by supporting that which would see to the destruction of the rail infrastructure and prevent trains from returning to our tracks.

    • The Greens think they know how to get their candidates some exposure in the run-up to the next election! Kicking incumbent ass over the non-train has been sport for every wannabe politician since 2004. They all want an easy and inexpensive election campaign and plenty of photo opportunities in the media. The gig is up guys, we’re all a bit jaded! Stop making cynical (pre-broken) election promises and stop wearing impossible slogans on red t shirts, the train is not your personal ticket to electoral success.

  4. It’s really disgusting that our local MPs and the state government not only ignore the many thousands of residents who have been calling for a train service, but are willing to hand over $75m + of our money to have the valuable line ripped up for a tourist gimmick that will only be used by a few fit people in good weather.

    Thanks to ICAC we know who and what is running this state..

    • We need a integrated public transport system in the northern rivers. One based on a frequent bus system, one that connects all the communities. A train that is operating nearly empty and not meeting the needs of commuters is not efficient in both costs & green house gasses. We don’t have a population to support a frequent train system let alone one that misses many key communities.
      Rail trails rejuvenate struggling communities creating a sustainable, low carbon economy. Many new small business, many more jobs in the hinterland and lots suitable for younger people.
      We need both. We can have both. As part of the rail trail proposal we need support for an improved public transport system.
      Win Win

  5. It is good to see that the Greens have read the Sustainable Magazine that states buses have the same end of life carbon output as trains. An electrified twin track train system following the population corridor is fantastic.With the Greens working towards a train line thru Kingscillf to Pottsville ,Brunswick to Byron/Lennox and Ballina to Lismore we will end up with a train that can solve the problem for working commuters and tourists in one swoop.Integrated with buses dropping and picking you up close to your home is fantastic.
    So good that the Greens are looking outside the square of reinstating the old corridor.The Greens popularity will soar if they adopt this solution.

  6. If you perused Greens policies on their website you’d swear the rail trail would have ‘The Greens’ written all over it.

  7. The Rail Trail is the only way that we can guarantee retaining the rail corridor for future generations.
    Initially, the rail trail could be used for all manner of low speed transport options such as mobility scooters, electric assist tricycles, mountain bikes, segways and other not yet invented vehicles. And by retaining the corridor the trails can be enhanced later on so that road bicycles and electric and solar minibuses can also use them.

  8. The discussion of whether or not to use the existing rail corridor as a rail trail is a red herring to the issue of the deplorable, fragmented state of public (bus) transport in our region. While it does not seem likely that rail will return to the corridor, debating the issue and calling for trains on the tracks as opposed to a recreational rail trail also simply evades the issue.
    I don’t think the trains (heavy or light) will be returned to the existing track – so the least we can do is try and save the corridor for future generations. Rail trails have been researched extensively and they do provide much benefit to the community – not just financially but also in improving emotional wellbeing of the community as a whole. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater!
    But let that issue not disguise the problem of the fragmented, poorly coordinated and haphazard bus network in our region. Look to places such as Singapore and the Netherlands who have affordable, frequent bus routes carrying many thousands of passengers and let’s see if we can get that happening here.

  9. We already have a comprehensive transport plan – it involves buses – the problem is that not many people use them – they are low cost, flexible and the infrastructure already exists so why don’t we use it? More people won’t magically appear…..
    We don’t have the population density for heavy or light rail…………for many years light rail struggled even in the heart of Sydney – I know – I used it every day for 6 years.
    It the Government is prepared to put some $$s into a great piece of community infrastructure (rail trail) which will benefit the entire region economically then we should all be backing it and supporting it.
    Save the corridor, Use the corridor, support economic development in our area and connect our communities.
    Back the politicians and lets get this great project started.

  10. I agree an integrated public transport network is desperately needed in the northern rivers. A frequent regular bus service connecting all our communities is required not an expensive rail service that only connects a few towns. Trains running nearly empty is expensive to run and carbon intensive and without a connection to the Gold Coast the train will always be under utilized.
    What the rail trail will do for our communities is give us the infrastructure to base an ecotourism industry, a low carbon fully sustainable industry that will benefit communities and create many hundreds of long term jobs of all types and especially for young people. It is seen all around the world where rail trails have been established, they revitalize economically struggling communities.
    Also from discussions with engineers I believe the tracks will need to be removed no matter what use is given to the corridor as 2 in every 3 sleepers are rotten and the rails themselves no longer meet the engineering requirements for the return of the trains.
    We need both an integrated public transport system based on buses going to all the communities for the commuters and the rail trail for jobs in a sustainable economy.

  11. A fully integrated transport system and a rail trail would be good! Separate issue. The rail trail will provide active transport for the thousands of people (tourists and locals) who want ride and walk and stay fit and not use fossil fuel. A bus service going to all the towns and villages at times when people need them and good community transport for the disabled and elderly – door to door.

  12. We all want better public transport for our region. The rail line is not the answer. It doesn’t go where people want to go, the alignment means any trains would run very slowly, the costs in the study are correct (even light rail needs bridges), people did not use the trains so why would they now. Do we really expect the government to provide trains when very few will use them.
    Public transport needs to fast, safe, reliable and frequent. The trains would be slow, unreliable and infrequent. Better bus services will be faster than the train, more reliable and far more frequent for a fraction of the cost. We should not be asking the government to waste our money on something that will get very little use. Instead, we should be encouraging them to invest in infrastructure that will create permanent jobs, spread the tourists across the region and be used by 100,000s of locals and visitors each year – the rail trail.

  13. Much as the Greens rightfully push for public transport, there are sometimes overwhelming economic arguments that render such pursuits unfeasible.
    Such a pursuit would be reinstating trains on our very own rail corridor between Casino and Murwillumbah.
    The horrendous cost of building a train line and servicing it 365 days a year, year after year, may be borderline economics in urban to city areas, where losses can be outweighed by congestion relief etc., but between Casino and Murwillumbah, it would be immediate economic suicide with virtually no spinoff advantages at all.
    There comes a time, even with politicians, when spending vast amounts of taxpayers hard earned money, is simply not a good idea.
    A full blown train service is folly, and will remain folly until our corridor’s human density resembles at least the Gold Coast.
    Now, we don’t want THAT, do we?

  14. Dear Adam,I hope that you have read all the Sustainability Magazines and the worldwide transport study’s before you focus too much on reinstating trains onto the old corridor.Look outside the party line square and you will see that trains are required but in a totally different corridor.You will also read that buses have about the same end of life carbon output as trains.
    In the last federal election the Greens lost 500,000 voters ,this is very sad but will keep happening if the Greens don’t do more research into how to run a government .The Greens have some good policies but tend to grab at straws to attract a few votes.
    Look at the Community Run online petition which has 4000 votes for a rail trail and only 1000 votes for train/rail trail on the old corridor. It may not be a scientific run poll but it shows the great support for the rail trail.
    Get a train on a new corridor that ticks all the boxes and buses that will pick you up near your home and drop you close to your destination.

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