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Byron Shire
August 3, 2021

Trains, not roads, the answer to congestion

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People do need to be concerned about dirty diesel emissions, but it’s very strange that those concerns are directed at one small Byron train while at the same time ignoring the many tonnes of toxic fumes being released from road transport on our roads and in our towns every day.

It would be much more effective if people addressed their concerns about dirty diesel to the state Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance, at Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney, 2000.

They should also ask Mr Constance when he plans to have the train service, promised for many years by Barry O’Farrell, (then opposition leader) Don Page (former MP for Ballina), Thomas George (MP for Lismore)  running on the Casino to Murwillumbah line.

This urgently needed service would not only reduce toxic emissions by reducing traffic congestion, it would save lives and injuries from road accidents, allow locals to access health and education facilities, as well as providing transport to 4.6m tourists to the region.

The state government is in a good financial position and is expecting $20 billion from the sale of electricity poles and wires.

They are planning to spend most of this money on infrastructure in and around Sydney, little will be spent in the north coast.

This region has been neglected by successive state governments for far too long.  It’s time we got our fair share.

The cost of repairing the line for the Byron train ($1.1m for 3.4kms) shows that the Casino to Murwillumbah line can be repaired and a train service running for a fraction of what the state government claims.

What we cannot afford is the huge cost of building and maintaining the roads needed for the tsunami of traffic headed our way, or the traffic congestion and toxic fumes that goes with it.

Louise Doran, Ocean Shores

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  1. I couldn’t agree more, Louise. Resurrecting the train just makes sense. Better for the environment, better for safety, better for congestion, better for locals, better for tourism.

  2. Louise, the “small train” you mention does not have any pollution equipment fitted at all!!!! Not like modern cars, truck and buses. The Highly toxic diesel particulates and sulphur are released within metres of family homes and holiday makers. There will be no less cars on Ewingsdale road as there are only 38 car parking spaces allotted and park n ride needs land which no one is willing to put up.
    In all honesty very few locals will use this train IF it gets final approval. At $30 for a family of 5 it’s far better to use our push bikes. Elements have been spouting a solar train now for two years – It’s not going to happen. TOOT say they support clean energy… without real light rail (electric) it’s just not a reality due to weight and travel distances. Retrofitting the wheels of existing solar powered buses and you might be onto something – other options are toxic and hopeful romanticism.

  3. A couple of points:
    a) fifty year old diesel locos are not 2L Mazda engines – they are serious smoke belchers
    b) Louise obviously does not live adjacent to the proposed smoke belching route
    c) the traffic using the road between the author’s home and Byron Bay does not come from Casino, so a rail service from there won’t improve that “tsunami of” congestion one bit.

    • People really should do some rudimentary research before racing into print with rubbish.

      There are 100 parking spaces on Bayshore Dr adjacent to the train station!!!!! If the state government would spend some of our taxes repairing the line it’s possible the train service could be extended to the Cavvanbah Sports centre where there is plenty of parking. One train carrying 100 people could take 50 cars off the roads each trip. All indications are that people intend to use the train to get into Byron rather than wasting petrol sitting in traffic for hours breathing toxic fumes from motor vehicles. Time will tell.

      City people consider themselves fortunate to live in close proximity to a train service (no state government trains are solar powered) not just for the convenience -it also adds value to their property.

      Australia has some of the lowest regulations for emission control of motor vehicles in the world-not to mention vehicle manufacturers who deliberately flout those lax regulations. One small train-with or without emission control- cannot possibly emit the amount of toxic fumes as many huge diesel powered semis crawling along Ewingsdale Rd for hours every day on market days and peak holiday periods.

      The tsunami of traffic is here and more is coming from the airport and Queensland. Of the 5.8m people who use Coolangatta Airport each year, over 2.2m of them head south over the border. Which is why the 24ks of line to connect our line to Coolangatta must be built as soon as possible.

      Our once laid back, beautiful towns, our health and quality of life are also heading south.

  4. I would argue that a single track train service from Murwillumbah is going to do almost nothing to reduce the traffic going into Byron on holidays. As for simply building the 24ks from Murwillumbah to Coolangatta that is absurd. For a start all the property resumptions and relocations required for the corridor through Banora Heights, Tweed Heads etc would cost millions if not billions let alone the huge cost to actually build the track. Also a lot of holidaymakers arriving by plane use one of the many shuttle bus services (that also provide employment to locals) so these people are already using a form of public transport.

    Byron is not the centre of the universe. There are many other beautiful and unspoilt towns in our area that are not heading south. I’ve never had to wait in traffic to get to Bruns on holidays.

    For almost 12 years now and 3 governments Louise and other train supporters have been pushing their train mantra despite a reputable and extensive feasibility study that found reinstating the Casino to Murwillumbah line not viable and would not serve the major population areas in our region. Please accept the findings and while your concerns about traffic in our region are warranted there are other alternatives such as better and more frequent bus services.

    • More frequent bus services? You obviously don’t get it Damon. What good are these bus services when they are only going to be stuck in traffic? On the other hand, the rail service will provide an alternative to road transport – and congestion free!

  5. Gary, you don’t get it. One bus can potentially take 50 cars off the road. Bus routes are much more flexible and can be established for a fraction of the cost and time involved to reinstate the line. After 12 years it’s time to realise the train is not coming back. Your arguments for the train appear to be based on nostalgia and little else.

  6. I don’t know what makes you think my thoughts are based on nostalgia. I am talking about Byron and come February there will be a train running on that section. When I say they will be stuck in traffic I mean the traffic from 4.6million tourists that come there every year. The vast majority of Tourists and more so day trippers do no take buses, but tend to choose cars instead, thus creating congestion that the buses get caught in on (Ewingsdale Road in particular). The train however would provide locals and the wider community with a alternative transport option.

  7. Because restoring the Casino to Murwillumbah steam trained aligned single track line has been proven not to be viable nor does it actually serve the major population areas (Ballina, Lennox, Kingslciff, Tweed heads etc) along the coast. Therefore it appears that your arguments are based on nostaliga for the good old days when we all caught trains or you just want to see trains chuffing along. The fact is, as you correctly pointed out people prefer the convience of their cars. I really can’t see how the day trippers to Byron with their kids, pets, surfboards etc are going to want to transfer eveyone and eveything into a small two carriage train that runs for 3 km.

    If holiday traffic is this huge problem then Byron council needs to take Noosa’s approach and ban non-local cars in the town and offer a decent park and ride facility along Ewingsdale road using a fleet of buses.


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