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Byron Shire
April 15, 2021

Myths about trains

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There are many myths being circulated about the cost and viability of a commuter train service on the Casino to Murwilumbah line.

Trains can be returned to our tracks at much less cost than inflated government figures.  The North Byron Beach Resort consortium are planning to introduce a regular rail shuttle on the line between Ewingsdale and Byron Bay later this year as a scenic alternative to traffic congestion.  Their cost for restoring that section of line is $300,000 per kilometre.  Compare that figure with the state government’s inflated cost of more than $16m per kilometre to repair that section of line.

TOOT members have extensively researched costs of building and restoring rail lines and have gathered reliable information which says the Casino to Murwillumbah line could be restored for little more than the $45m the government is planning to spend ripping up this valuable piece of public infrastructure for a cycling track.  A cycling track will not provide public transport for anyone.

Double hit: northern rivers ratepayers will wear the cost of the underfunded cycleway proposal.  In addition to wasting taxpayer funds to rip up valuable infrastructure, ratepayers of councils in the northern rivers will be hit with the cost of providing supporting facilities, services and maintenance associated with the walking track proposal including toilets, car parks, rubbish collection and ongoing maintenance not costed in the proposal. This will mean even less money for local roads and council services. So-called ‘rail’ trails around the country have ended up costing councils dearly long after state governments effectively shifted the costs onto local communities.

North coast National Party MPs and candidates, who have made repeated promises over many years to ‘get the trains running’ are now out in force trying to tell us that a cycleway/walking track will provide the public transport the north coast community and 4.6m tourists need.  Unless people use their vote wisely to send a strong message at the ballot box next month we’ll continue to get more of the same – nothing!

Louise Doran , Ocean Shores.


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  1. Here are some estimates of costs of construction and maintenance of rail lines. As you can see they vary greatly, but as there are no passenger services operating in Australia as a financially viable venture, then one would hazard a guess that a private operation would do any better. The cost of the rail is only a portion of the costs. Wages, maintenance, operating costs all add up & the fares are paid for by the taxpayer anyway.


  2. Louise,
    We are all on the political ride. The steel of the rail track is to be sold. In mining, the iron ore price has gone down.

  3. TOOT needs to decide exactly what they want. Is it the old line back or light rail? They are not the same thing. If it is just to bring back the old system it would still cost far in excess of your numbers.

    Hopefully you did not base your projected costs on the North Byron Beach Resort numbers. Anyone could drive a truck (or in this case a train) through them. For example there are two road crossings that were estimated to cost $50,000. One automated crossing is closer to a million dollars. This number is from the actual costs of rolling out automated crossings across NSW.

  4. I Strongly agree with you Louise. The Rail trailers sure like to speculate the rubbish they claim as ‘facts’ don’t they!

    I think you couldn’t be more correct on this one!

  5. Louise and TOOTs are the new railway engineering company that will save our MBah to Casino train line?
    Going by their costings they should be able to build a 3 bedroom house for $10,000, a fantastic affordable package.
    So let me get this right, the rail trail will require a minimum of $50 million to give a cycle/walk/run Greenway and for the same amount of money your railway building company can put a public transport train back on the tracks? Is this a February Fools joke or is this a dream from 2004 when the cost was $90M that needed to spent to bring the line up to scratch?
    Dreams are fine but reality rules the way of life.

  6. to answer some questions here;
    does TOOT want the old service or a new lighter service?…
    TOOT has never wanted the old XPT service back. the old XPT only ran twice a day and weighed over 100 tonnes.
    Several studies over the years have shown that the best option for the line is a lighter railcar service. similar to the diesel railcar proposed by the North Byron Beach Resort which weighs less than half of the XPT.
    These types of railcars have run on the C-M Line before. the XPT isn’t the only service we had, before that we also had the Gold Coast Motorail, the Pacific Overnight Express, heritage railcar tours, etc.
    Restoring the line to a lighter weight railcar will cost far less than the Arup cost assessment which was for the heavy xpt.
    Also, TOOT is in contact with Rail Engineers, as well as a local rail construction company capable of restoring the line to the type of service that we want.

  7. Anyone with basic literacy and computer skills can find accurate rail information and costs from other states and countries.

    Even the most naive person would not believe it will cost more to restore 130Ks of the Casino to Murwillumbah line than to build the brand new 1,400Ks Alice Springs to Darwin Line, which cost $1.1b.

    Governments are well practiced at wasting our money producing reports/studies that justify their actions. They’ve been caught out in Newcastle proposing to unnecessarily waste an extra $100m of taxpayer’s money to place a light rail service where it will most advantage developers, who want to build high rise on rail land. The community is still fighting to maintain their current train service, which will save taxpayer’s many millions.

    Has a very familiar ring to it.

  8. Trains returning to the Casino to Murwillumbah line is a myth! Light rail is best suite to high urban density areas such as the Gold Coast. If you really want to catch trains then go live in high urban density areas such as the Gold Coast, Brisbane or Sydney. Don’t move to our region expecting to have city public transport services! If you live in Bryon, get use to the traffic or live somewhere else. Even with a train you will still have traffic jams and they will probably be worse. A lot of people shun public transport (drive around the GC at peak hour if you don’t believe me) and lets face it car ownership is at it’s highest. At least a rail trail while not solving traffic problems will get people off their bums and doing something healthy weather it be walking or cycling. I can’t wait to ride the Murwillumbah to Casino Rail Trail!

  9. The trains are not coming back.
    Both sides of govt have said so.
    I hope that TOOT doesn’t destroy any other opportunities from taking place.
    Leaving the old lines empty for another 10 years due to fighting over its use would be disappointing at best.
    I for one am really looking forward to riding a bike from Mullum to Byron through the countryside.


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