About 60 people met at Bangalow’s Historic House Museum last night (Thursday March 5) to hear about future plans for the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line and the impacts they could have on Bangalow.
Bangalow Progress Association (BPA) president Tony Hart chaired the meeting, which he said tried to steer away from the conflict between the rail trail and TOOT camps.
‘The two camps were quite evident [at the meeting] and the whole point of this meeting was to try to find some common ground and to address some of the concerns about non-public use of the corridor,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘It was a very peaceful meeting and I think people were there to seek information and by and large everyone went away reasonably happily, he said, adding, ‘I think people got their prejudices confirmed one way or the other.’
The meeting heard presentations by Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc (NRRT) as well as two private groups: RailExplorer and Byron Bay Tramlink.
The RailExplorer proposal would see small groups riding pedal carts on the existing stretch of line between Bangalow and Byron Bay.
Tramlink proposes the use of vintage trams to run a similar route.
Mr Hart said he thought the groups’ proposals ‘were received fairly well.’
‘Some of the speakers had thought very carefully about the impacts on Bangalow, such as parking, increased tourism.’
In particular he commended the RailExplorers group, which he said, ‘did a very good presentation. They appear now to be working quite closely with NRRT to try to do some joint work, which is quite an interesting approach.’
Mr Hart said meeting organisers ‘deliberately left the issue of returning trains to the tracks out at this stage’.
‘I think we’ll have another meeting that tries to get to grips with what are the alternatives for public transport.’
But he added, ‘It was made clear by the rail trail people that the $50million that the government has put on the table is for tourism development, which can’t be reallocated to, say a small-scale bus service between Byron and Lismore, much as we might like to see that happen.’