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Byron Shire
June 25, 2021

No endorsement for rail trail

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The rail Trail myth has been finally put to bed.

Ripping up the tracks in order to provide for a cycling path has been resoundingly rejected by the people of Byron shire.

The proponent of such a crazy idea, the National Party and Kris Beavis, received approximately 15 per cent of the primary vote in Byron  shire.

All other major candidates have gone to the polls with a policy to keep the tracks and work towards a commuter rail service.

Therefore the  only logical conclusion is that the rail trail proposal must be shelved in it’s current form, the rail trail needs to find a way alongside the tracks, it must work in cooperation with other parties.

It would benefit our communities, if the rail trail lobby finally would come off their high horse and talk to rail supporters.

There is no way the NSW government after this election can assume a community endorsement for ripping up the rail for a cycling pass, such an endorsement a condition put on any rail trail proposal.

This election result clearly shows a vote in favour of a rail service  for this region.

Jens Krause, Byron Bay

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  1. If Mike Baird is the good person he’s supposed to be he’ll take note of the large swing against the Nationals in the Ballina and Lismore electorates and the clear rejection by voters for what they stand for; CSG, large inappropriate development and ripping up our train line for a bike trail.

  2. Ballina Results as at 10am ,Monday 30th March 2015.
    First Preference: Beavis 37%, Smith 27% , Spooner 25% .
    Lismore Electorate
    First Preference: George 40% ,Guise 29%,Smith 25%
    It would appear that the majority on the first preference chose the Nationals and only after preference allocation did the numbers sway to the Greens.

  3. Well said Jens. I guess you could say that the rest of the community now has something of a mandate on this 🙂 LOL With Don Page gone and Tamara Smith in the seat, this opens up the opportunity for a whole new dialogue on this issue. The more vociferous rail trail supporters are now going to have to do a crash course in learning to listen to others, and in negotiating the best outcome for the use of the rail corridor for all.

  4. I take some offence to the comment in the article above “It would benefit our communities, if the rail trail lobby finally would come off their high horse and talk to rail supporters.”

    The response from some sections of the anti rail trail lobby has been pure and simply abuse. Here is an example of some of their on line comments from “Stop The Rail Trails – Protect our Railways:-

    “Are these clowns now saying that we need rail trails to protect rail corridors from trains?
    The fanatical and irrational BS coming from these rail trail advocates is mind boggling. What is wrong with them?

    “Does this dickhead ever shut up and turn off the BS tap?
    FFS Graham, the more you prattle on, the more you look like Ronald McDonald!
    You obviously don’t have the faintest idea.”

    These comments substitute for considered comment and discussion on the topic and are promulgated by a group who mainly reside outside of the affected communities and do a strong disservice to those in the communities with concerns over the future of the rail corridors. It makes it difficult to enter serious and considered dialogue within a community when this sort of comment masquerades as discussion on the topics.

    Our rail services in most of NSW re the product of lines built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and through a range of reasons they have never been updated. A good comparison would be the Pacific Highway north of Newcastle: imagine trying to move people and freight along the road that existed in 1900? For rail to be a viable option, new lines need to be laid, over new corridors. In the meantime, let us use the corridors that do exist as recreational areas, linear parks and conservation areas where remnant flora can be nurtured and corridors maintained for wild life. Should the situation arise where rail was once again viable in the corridor that exists today, then it would be returned to its original use.

    • Ah yes, the usual factless tactic used commonly by the rail trail supporters. Truth is, the rail lines in Sydney have been in place a lot longer than the one here! Plus the fact that a 100 year old CPH Rail motor can go from Byron to Mullumbimby in 10 or less minutes whilst maintaining a speed of at least 80 kp/h – even up St Helena hill!

      So the thought of the rail line being ‘out dated’ is a very factless, short sighted assumption. Have you ever caught a train on the line? I know I have and it took me about 8 minutes to get from Casino to Lismore, then about 15 – 17 minutes to get from Lismore to Byron! And then around about 15 – 20 minutes to get from Byron to Murwillumbah.

      Now that opposed to 10 – 20 minutes for Casino to Lismore by car, 43 minutes for Lismore to Byron Bay by car, then finally 44 minutes for Byron Bay to Murwillumbah by car. – All of those times on a relatively good run.

      • Now they are impressive figures Gary for a 100 year old carriage on wheels, I’m sure many of the locals up there would leap at the chance of riding on a CPH in the middle of summer.

        Now, I know, you will say the Explorer would do the run in similar times in air conditioned comfort, but my few recent trips on the explorer & XPT contained mostly us old folk riding on pensioner fares in First Class & the less fortunate unemployed riding in Economy on their health care cards or whatever they use these days. I don’t think there were many full fare paying people around.

        But all that argument is rather moot, because a train won’t run on a rail that isn’t in very good repair and I believe there are many sections of rail missing in your area. In other parts of the state of NSW, there are great hulking chunks adorning farmers properties masquerading as cattle yards and fence posts and the sleepers are doing great impressions of retaining walls. It will be a long time before any State Government in NSW of any persuasion fonts up with the money to repair the lines, in fact, many amongst them would rather see many of our publicly owned assets sold to private enterprise. (See Poles & wires, Travelling Stock Routes etc,)

        In the meantime, a few forward thinking people adopted ideas from other states & countries and are seeking to retain these rail corridors in public hands by utilising them as linear recreational areas where people can ride, run or walk without the bother of motorised transport. A great aside to that is tourists like these venues and come along and spend money in your towns and villages as a reward for the parks being there. They can travel at any speed they feel comfortable with, travel as far or as little as they like, in any direction at any time and stop and spend money where and whenever they want to. They require little more than a path along the disused corridor and some entrepreneurial businesses to support them, a true win/win situation. Just a pity that more people can’t see the woods for the trees (that are slowly taking over the rail lines).

    • John, I think you will find that the article was referring to the LOCAL rail trail group, not NSW Rail Trails. Atleast you are reading our articles though.

  5. Strongly agree Jens, 100% correct.

    The rail trail supporters need to wake up and realise they are the minority whilst the majority/ wider community want a train service for everyone to use.

  6. Charming the way bike trail supporters, who complain about so-called abuse, then proceed to call people pretty nasty names and tell them to ‘shut up’!

  7. Jens’ article makes a few huge assumptions which need more evidence than given in the above article. The main wild assumption is that anyone at all voted solely on the question of rail trails. Most electors would have voted on the basis of multiple issues…not a single, small issue like rail trails.

    And if they did vote on one issue, surely CSG was the big, divisive issue in the area.

    Following Jens’ flawed logic to an alternative conclusion. NSW has just voted overwhelmingly for a Coalition which went to the election with a pro-rail trail policy and had even allocated $50 million for a rail trail grant scheme prior to the election.
    Does this then mean the new government has a clear mandate to move ahead with rail trails throughout NSW?
    Jens seems to think this is how it works.

    In any case it seems that the Government could move ahead pronto on the Northern Rivers Rail Trail. They have everything to gain, and nothing to lose electorally.

    Jens the reality is that rail trails are really minor issue. The are relatively low cost, they are not irreversible, and there is a huge amount of evidence that they are a good thing for regional economies and health.

    Rail trails are a brilliant alternative to an abandoned rail corridor.
    They are not an alternative to a non-existent train service. The questions of public transport is a separate, much bigger ticket item. If you manage to block the rail trail, it does not mean you get better public transport.

    You will simply end up with no rail trail, no train and one clapped out rail corridor.

  8. Jens has obviously done his research and is correct about little community support for ripping up a $6b rail line, (which goes through 8 out of ten of the largest North Coast population centres) for a bike trail.

    Over 15,000 people have signed petitions for trains and are still signing. Anyone who attended the large Meet the Candidates nights in Byron and Ocean Shores heard the strong community support for trains-rail trails went down like a lead balloon. The National party candidate, who clearly stated his support for spending $50m to rip up the line for a bike trail, lost every booth in Byron Shire where the train line is.

    All the name calling and misinformation won’t change the community’s need for trains or their determination to ensure the line is not destroyed.

    • Louise you are playing fast and lose with facts.

      Where do you get the $6 billion figure from? Rail trails leave the rail corridor intact. The land won’t go anywhere and the valuable asset is the land. It will stay there, banked for the future and in public hands.
      And the corridor will actually be used and accessible. It isn’t being used now and it probably won’t be used for rail in the foreseeable future. And if there is ever sufficient population with the right demographic spread for a viable, modern rail service, the rail corridor will still be there. The ancient rails and sleepers are no good for modern rail.

      Most of the corroded rails and rotting sleepers would have to be replaced, even if the government somehow magics the $hundreds of millions needed to build and run a new, modern railway service.

      Jens has conveniently overlooked the Coal Seam Gas issue which other commentators are attributing the electoral swing to. Any thoughts on this?

      It is interesting to see the big difference between how many people say they want trains, and then actually get around to using them. Country Rail Services in NSW are down to about 17% fare box return. It should be up around 40%. The Country Rail Services are running more empty seats around the countryside than they are passengers. While people are staying away from existing regional services in droves, it’ll take more than a 15,000 person petition to convince government a new rail service in your area will be viable.

      Or are you suggesting they should shut down some of the underused country services and shift the funding to your area? RailCorp already cost over $4 billion p.a. Rail Trail budgets don’t even count as small change in railway world big spending.

      The other fact you are misquoting is the $50 million. This amount is intended for the whole state, or at least two rail trail projects. Not just your local project. A few other regions will be delighted to get a share of the funding if your region doesn’t want it.

      If you block the rail trail project, this will leave the community with an abandoned rail corridor for many more decades. It will not gain you a rail service, especially as your local representatives now seem to be members of the Opposition and not in any position to influence from within Government.

    • There are lots of reasons to rejoice the delivery of this seat to the Greens. Opening up a new discussion on our local public transport needs, and the ongoing role of the rail corridor, is something that thankfully can now happen. It certainly wasn’t going anywhere under the Nationals who were 100% bolted to the rail trail notion, reliant for on removing the existing rail infrastructure. It’s a new dawn. The community has pressed RE-SET on this and other issues.

  9. This is a non-argument. Do you think Tamara will be able to talk the government in reinstating the line?
    Both Don Page and Thomas George tried for a long time after the line was closed. They eventually decided to support a proposition that can happen, rather than one that can’t. I am not sure what the obsession with bringing trains back on this corridor. Don’t you think we need a better one?

    • Politicians are paid very well to represent the needs of the people who vote for them, and this electorate has clearly rejected the destructive policies of the National Party. The state government would be very foolish to ignore the strong message sent via the ballot box.

      People on the Central Coast and the Hunter Valley have regular taxpayer funded train services on a line that’s over 100 years old. They are not calling for it to be ripped up for a bike trail.

      And they’re not complaining about catching buses or driving to the train stations. Obviously they are oblivious to the wonderful benefits of bike trails as apposed to regular public transport services.

    • Marie says: “I am not sure what the obsession with bringing trains back on this corridor.” That pretty much fires a giant cannon through the ridiculous notion peddled by NRRT about a rail trail preserving the corridor for a time when trains may come back.

      I’d suggest Marie that if you don’t understand why people want trains back that you should actually sit down and have an open-minded conversation with a range of people who do. Your failure to even be able to acknowledge there are other genuine point of views on this is a shameful indictment on NRRT, given your substantial involvement.

      It also might help you understand why the rail trail ‘winner takes all’ attitude of NRRT has got up the noses of so many people in the community who don’t share your obsession with bikes, and making money off the rail corridor.

      I’m glad Don Page is gone. Now with Tamara Smith holding the seat we can press re-set on this whole discussion.

  10. Primary vote for Ballina Electorate 29/3/15
    Beavis 37.21%
    Smith 26.36%
    Spooner 24.88%

    It is only that Labor got into bed with the Greens in this area that maybe Smith will take the reigns.
    In Feb 2013 Christine Milne fell out of love with Labor.
    Julia Gillard quoted about the Greens ,”At the end of the day ,the Greens party is fundamentally a party of protest rather than a party of government” and further stated ” The Greens party is fundamentally a party that would prefer to complain about things than get solutions” ,end of quotes.
    Oh my how things change so quickly in politics.

  11. Murwillumbah railway line ‘to be reinstated’
    APRIL 1, 2015 12:01AM

    Trains to the Northern Rivers are back again after a decade.

    Deputy Premier and Nationals leader Troy Grant has unveiled a promise to revive the Murwillumbah XPT in a move that will see the first trains to the Northern Rivers in over a decade.

    Mr Grant said the trains would be run by NSW TrainLink as per current XPT services, but flagged future upgrades along the way.

    “The Murwillumbah service is to be reinstated. We will launch it as a retimed Casino XPT initially,” Mr Grant stated yesterday morning in Lismore alongside Premier Mike Baird and Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian.

    “Mike, Gladys and I are absolutely committed to improving regional transport. We have committed to new tilt trains to replace the whole fleet, XPT and Xplorer, to really bring up comfort and service while massively cutting down on travel time, with a billion dollars set aside for this. We’re getting straight to work on this, and we expect that the contracts will go out to tender in the coming months.”

    “It will require extensive rebuilding of the line, yes, but we’re dedicated to improving regional transport across the state,” Mr Grant said. “Already we’ve commissioned a study into regional rail as a whole and I must emphasise that there is a lot of work to do to fix the mess left behind by Labor cutting this line.” Mr Grant referred to the line’s 2004 closure by then-Transport Minister Michael Costa.

    “But this is not just about fixing Labor’s mess. It is also about rebuilding this state to be better than ever. In light of this, we have committed additional funding to a study into extension of the line to Gold Coast Airport to improve train connections and improve the usefulness of the train to locals.”

  12. One message that I make can never seem to be ‘argued’ about. The voices of the people suffering the most over this issue are rarely heard. The Elderly, people with disabilities, chronic medical conditions, those who use wheelchairs and mobility aids (even cyclists) cannot, are cannot easily use buses for more than short distances for several reasons, needing level access entry, proper accessible toilets and to walk down a stable aisle-way to prevent DVT. People who are ill or nauseous from treatments cannot handle the movements on a bus. Most people cannot read or enjoy other activities on a bus. There is little space for a bicycle on a bus. Use of Community transport volunteers is stretched to its limits, and this is used only for medical appointments. We need access to many things, even to visit our friends, and hospitals and other amenities are easily accessible from existing stations in 8 out of 10 major populated areas in the Northern Rivers.

    We need this now, not in an ‘unforeseeable future’. Governments change. Next federal election (and local elections) are in about 16 months. The federal government has funded around a third of recent SEQ railway structure. Some of us may still be alive around then.


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