17.6 C
Byron Shire
April 22, 2024

Track removal, public transport major issues for Byron voters

Latest News

Cockroach climate

The cockroaches in the Byron Council offices are experiencing bright daylight at night. They are trying to determine whether...

Other News

Northern Rivers rugby league underway for 2024

Senior rugby league got off to a good start for the 2024 season with Byron Bay, Ballina and Mullumbimby teams picking up competition points.

Editorial – What are the people doing in your neighbourhood?

If you are stuck for something to do this Thursday, why not take part in local democracy?

Keeping an eye on the landscapes of the Tweed

Tweed Shire Council says they have made a commitment to identify and protect the Tweed’s unique landscape, to this end a draft Scenic Landscape Protection Policy has been prepared to ensure the Shire’s spectacular scenery is front of mind when there is new development, change in land use, or when preparing related new policy.

Funds sought to complete clubhouse

Byron Bay Football Club may finally get the funds to complete its new clubhouse, with Byron councillors to consider loaning the club $200,000 at this week’s meeting.

Bruns Holistic Dental Centre closed

Longterm employee and senior dentist, Dr Roy Gamma, has described the closure of Brunswick Holistic Dental Centre (BHDC) as devastating.

Metal is back at The Northern

Beast Machine are coming home from a successful spell in the United States and the thrash/metal two-piece with their massive sound layered with riff-driven guitars and thundering drums are coming to lift the roof off of the Backroom. Check out their new music video currently out for their latest single ‘Pretend’, which is featured in HEAVY magazine.

Independent candidate for Ballina, Cr Jeff Johnson, says both a cycle path and public transport can be achieved on the tracks. He is pictured next to a non-political platform at the Mullum Station along with Trains On Our Tracks supporters. Photo Jeff Dawson
Independent candidate for Ballina, Cr Jeff Johnson, says both a cycle path and public transport can be achieved on the tracks. He is pictured next to a non-political platform at the Mullum Station along with Trains On Our Tracks supporters. Photo Jeff Dawson

Hans Lovejoy

Ripping up the railway tracks emerged as an unpopular move from the Ocean Shores meet the candidates night, held on Monday.

All candidates present – except Nationals candidate Kris Beavis – said any rail trail on the region’s disused railway lines should not include track removal and be multi-use.

The NSW coalition have promised $50m to establish bike paths along the region’s disused railway lines, but so far it comes with scarce details, such as any land-leasing arrangements.

Public transport was indeed one of the many issues brought up by the audience; another point of difference between Mr Beavis and his fellow candidates was his suggestion that more roads and buses were the best way to address future public transport needs.

It drew an awkward silence, despite a clear indication from the room that rail was wanted.

Independent candidate for Ballina and former Greens member, Cr Jeff Johnson, argued that restoring the rail line and introducing a commuter rail service could be fully funded if the highway deviation proposal between Broadwater and Ballina were scrapped. ‘[It would be] a 13km dogleg through Ballina’s most important wildlife corridor and Aboriginal sacred sites. $300 million could be saved by widening the existing highway instead of building a brand new motorway through the Blackwall Range.’

But it’s not popular with those residents, with Mr Beavis saying that it could potentially ‘ruin the industry there.’

Meanwhile, in a media release last week, Cr Jeff Johnson says a lack of funding for rail trail facilities such as toilets, tourist infrastructure and ongoing maintenance was also a concern.

Vision needed

‘Local councils have not been allocated any funds to provide the facilities that would be needed, or ongoing maintenance,’ he said.

‘It’s time the government had a long-term sustainable vision for our area instead of pushing for urban sprawl and increasing traffic congestion.’

It’s a position supported by Cr Basil Cameron from community rail group, Trains On Our Tracks (TOOT).

Cr Cameron says, ‘Spending $50 million to rip up valuable transport infrastructure that directly connects eight of the ten largest population centres in the region is grossly irresponsible’.

A petition with four thousand signatures will be handed to whichever candidate wins the March 28 election, Cr Cameron said.

He says the petition opposes the removal of the rail line and calls for the $50 million to be spent on rail-based public transport instead.

By coincidence, the figure of 4,000 is also the number of signed-up supporters that Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NRRT) claim to have.

And the March 31 deadline is approaching for councils and tourism-only operators to apply for state government rail trail funding.

But Byron Council’s general manager Ken Gainger has told The Echo that there will be no rail trail submission from Council.

No submission

‘Byron Shire Council and other local councils have made it very clear to the state that we will not fund capital works or ongoing maintenance of the proposed rail trail. In Byron Shire, our first priority is to maintain our assets,’ he said.

And while NRRT says on its website that one of its aims is ‘to deliver a funding approach and business plan that will not be a burden to local government or the community’, a business plan is yet to be presented by them or the government.

All NSW Election 2015 Articles

More NSW Election 2015 news and articles

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. I applaud your efforts Mr Johnston. I agree 100% with what you are saying. Oh and the NRRT do NOT have 4000 signatures, they have 1000 to 2000.

  2. Hopefully the NRRT obsessives will start to get the picture that not all the community is as enamoured as they are with the idea of their bike path – and the fact that if it involves ripping up our rail tracks it will never have widespread support. They really need to re-think this if they want the wider community to embrace their vision. Hands off our tracks! Public transport (trains) first.

  3. Get your Act of Parliament first. S 99A of the Transport Act.

    Ripping up the tracks without an act of parliament is illegal.

    That is all.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

A grim commemoration

US President Jo Biden, responding to a question, made the comment that the US is considering the dropping of the prosecution of Julian Assange. How...

Infrastructure for east end of Mullum

Mullumbimby was founded 135 years ago. In the 1960s sewerage was introduced, as was I suppose drainage infrastructure. Are we living in the 1920s...

Save Wallum now

The Save Wallum campaign has been ongoing and a strong presence of concerned conservationists are on site at Brunswick Heads. How the state planning...

Can Council’s overturn their decisions?

NSW Labor planning minister, Paul Scully, when asked about the Wallum estate by local MP Tamara Smith (Greens)  in parliament on March 20, said,...