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Byron Shire
April 17, 2021

Rail good for tourism, safer and popular

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The Northern Rivers Railway Action Group is overjoyed at recent news that the state government will not be proceeding with the current EOI process for a rail trail on the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line.

Minister Barilaro said there was a wide range of proposals for projects along the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line but some differing views as to the best model and a range of views and options for investment. he said further work will be necessary before we can progress proposals on that corridor.

Perhaps the NSW government is realising that rail is safer, popular, good for tourism and lessens traffic congestion.

A recent SMH article (June 13-14) mentions the new Gold Coast tram line which was built between 2010 and 2013:  ‘About 20,000 passengers a day use it, well above forecasts. It has taken cars off the road, about 5% on Gold Coast City Council’s count’.

Anthony Albanese ,who as transport minister at the time allocated $365 million to the $1.6 billion line of 13 kms, said: ‘It’s just transformed the Gold Coast, particularly for a tourist destination when people don’t have cars. It’s such an easy way to get around’.

Apparently there used to be a railway line on the Gold Coast, even going down as far as the Tweed. The government ripped up the track, sold off the land and have now realised that rail is the way to go.

This is what we want to avoid in the Northern Rivers where currently the cost of putting trains back on the line might not be much more than $100 million.

An article in The Guardian, June 22 is called ‘There’s more to transport than roads. What does this government have against trains?’

It states: ‘Australian cities are creaking under the weight of population growth and urban sprawl. Road networks with limited capacity are struggling to cope’.

Earlier this month Infrastructure Australia released an updated National Infrastructure Audit which warned traffic congestion would cost the nation $53bn a year by 2031 unless action was taken.

Whether you’re talking about saving money on traffic congestion, carbon emissions or road accidents rail is the answer and governments are starting to listen.

We need to encourage the federal government to join with Queensland and NSW governments to extend the railway across the border.

Considering NSW has a windfall of billions from stamp duty and the poles and wires, they could certainly afford the tiny amount needed for our railway.”

Beth Shelley, Booerie Creek

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  1. Looking forward to Anthony Albanese’s Guardian commentary becoming a federal Labor led reality. The rail connectivity of regional Australia is just as much, if not more a federal government responsibility than a state one. Finally some political public recognition of the fact. Bring it on.

  2. It’s a shame that the government isn’t progressing with the EOI. But this is not to say they won’t in the future.

    The chance of trains returning to the line is about the same as whaling returning to Byron! If trains were viable the xpt service in 2004 wouldn’t have been cut. As for light rail, look at any existing light rail service currently in operation in the Gold Coast, Sydney or Melbourne. They all have one thing in common – they serve high-density urban populations which is why they are viable and successful. Since when is the Northern rivers is a high-density urban area! Or do you want our area to become an extension of the Gold Coast?

    There was a feasibility study into re-opening the C-M line by an ARUP, an expert group of consultants, planners and engineers which found the cost to be almost a billion dollars. The report is available on-line on the state governments website. All this for a railway that only serves 40% of our population. Where do you get 100 million from? Thin air maybe?

    100% wrong again Beth!

  3. Hey Beth and Gary – 100% wrong as Damon points out.

    There will never be a train service on that corridor. Face the reality. This has nothing to do with the provision of public transport which is a genuine issue. The light rail on the Gold Coast is purpose built, straight and serves the most populated part of Queensland. You cannot compare it to the Northern Rivers.

    Face the facts – the only hope for the C-M corridor, except maybe for a few kilometres around Byron, is for a walking/cycling trail. The other Mickey Mouse proposals will never succeed and are simply a distraction. To promote them is to condemn the corridor to oblivion.

  4. The committee looking at the EOI were overwhelmed by the multiple tourist proposals that were submitted. There is no mention of a train coming back for transport on that corridor.
    All we have now is a lose lose situation, with nothing happening. This is the danger for the corridor getting lost – either by nature or by being sold off. If the rail trail eventually goes ahead, the corridor will be safe (still owned by state rail) and a win win for all. As stated by the minister for planning last week – “why are people worried by the removal of the tracks? They have to come up anyway if a new line is built.”

  5. Getting trains back will be totally unlikely to happen if the rail trail being placed. The stupidity from LNP and ALP governments is over inflating the costs of public transport. Look at the QRail, its bloody rip off up here! $5bucks ticket to get to the city from two zones (from Toowong to city etc)!!! This is because of old policies are now favouring road transportation. Having bike and horse carts tracks is cheap because of no other advantages. But this is 21t century.

    How we going to argue this if the train did not cut back in 2004? Rail trail lobby won’t be existed!

    Trail lobby groups (Not just TOOT) are working on developing a new feasibility plan to get our trains back. Byron tramlink is first step now and it is go ahead project.


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