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Byron Shire
December 5, 2023

Railway connection to Gold Coast

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Send to Letters Editor Aslan Shand, email: [email protected], fax: 6684 1719 or mail to The Letters Editor, The Echo, 6 Village Way, Mullumbimby, 2482, NSW, Australia.
The public has been misinformed about the cost of rail services on the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line. We are campaigning for a commuter rail service on the line with an extension to the Tweed and then to Coolangatta to connect to the Gold Coast light rail.
People in the Tweed area would be able to catch a regular commuter service during the day down to Murwillumbah or Byron Bay as well as to the North.
NRRAG asked the candidates for the Tweed Shire Council election for their support and received these positive responses:
Katie Milne, Greens candidate: ‘I wholeheartedly support the return of the rail to Murwillumbah, and a connecting line to the Gold Coast should be thoroughly investigated. The Rail Trail is a threat to our existing rail corridor, particularly as council advised it cannot be built alongside the track, so all the tracks would have to be ripped up. This is just madness in this age of climate change and traffic congestion, but we are not going to give up. We desperately need a Council that has the public interest at heart’.

Gary Bagnall, Independent candidate: ‘I have continually voted against the rail trail and have supported trains on tracks. People need to understand the rail corridor is protected by current legislation and rail trail legislation would remove that protection so the land could be sold off. The Tweed area needs commuter rail services to help people get to work, study, shopping and tourism and get cars and trucks off the roads’.

Dion Williams, Independent candidate: ‘I have romanced the idea of a rail system reconnecting Casino to the airport. It could run single carriage shuttles as well as tourist trains, dining trains and theme trains all showing off our awesome region. Not only that, it would help a lot more of those people coming out of the Coolangatta Airport to come here. I do support the idea of getting the line reopened and if elected I would gladly make the necessary inquiries and investigations to get the ball rolling’.
Suzy Hudson, Independent candidate: ‘I think the rail all the way to Coolangatta airport would be a great asset both in tourism and economically and have huge benefit for our area’.
Michael McNamara, Independent candidate: ‘If elected, I commit to support the reinstatement of the rail lines from Murwillumbah to Casino with the intention to run a commuter service. I also support extending the rail corridor northwards towards the Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta, using either light or heavy rail.”
Chris Cherry, Independent candidate: ‘The rail corridor needs to stay in public hands so that it can be used for rail one day in the future. I believe, for Tweed residents, the priority is to get the light rail link from Murwillumbah and Tweed to the airport and the link to Byron is a natural progression from there’.

Dave Norris, Greens candidate: ‘I wholeheartedly support the actions proposed by the Northern Rivers Railway Action Group to retain existing railways tracks for future use as a commuter rail service and I do not support covering up these tracks for a bike trail.  Increasing railways networks and getting cars off the road is an important part of the solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion’.
Michael Hidden, Greens candidate: ‘Our region is sorely lacking in major transport infrastructure. A Rail Trail is a nice boutique idea for those who have plenty of time on their hands, have good health, and own a bike.  It won’t help the elderly or infirm get to the doctor, nor kids who need to get to school, TAFE or Uni, and it won’t help anyone at all in bad weather. The Gold Coast is planning to build its light rail down to the border. We ought be protecting our rail corridor with a view to meeting up with it. If I am elected to council I will fight for public transport for all, not just the select few’.
NRRAG believes that the Tweed shire will have the chance one day to have a first class public transport system but only if the people of the Tweed stand up for it. They can do that by voting for candidates who care about the needs of their community.
Beth Shelley, secretary, Northern Rivers Railway Action Group, Booerie Creek

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  1. These comments by Green and like-minded people leave me wondering if they aware of the Tweed Shire Transport Plan. Not one of the comments make any reference to the Plan – unless of course NRAG have misrepresented the candidates by not including comments on the Plan – nor its rejections of the unequivocal suggested rail link based on cost, nor its proposals of better bus services to existing centres and, in the medium term a dedicated busway along the Tweed Coast. We are told we are misinformed about the cost of rail services from Casino to Murwillumbah – but are not provided with any costing – credible or otherwise – to extend the rail to the Gold Coast, nor any reference to the issues of which gauge would be used. And of course there is a total ignoring of the transport needs of the fastest growing population in the area, and area with an ageing population, along the Tweed Coast. If they are aware of the Plan why are they not referencing it and saying why it is wrong, so we can have an informed discussion? I am sure some will want to now reply to my comment and suggest why that plan is wrong – fair enough. But should not the voters in the Tweed be concerned by candidates, including candidates from a national party, who are apparently unaware of or have not read the most relevant planning document to the subject at hand , or of greatest concern, do not think that local government should be based on good planning based on informed advice.

  2. This is excellent progress for the region.

    It’s great to hear the local councillors taking the right kind of initiative on this important issue.

  3. Michael Hidden, Greens candidate wrote: ‘ A Rail Trail is a nice boutique idea for those who have plenty of time on their hands, have good health, and own a bike. It won’t help the elderly or infirm get to the doctor, nor kids who need to get to school, TAFE or Uni, and it won’t help anyone at all in bad weather. Could candidate Hidden please explain the following questions about your comments: Why would anyone working person who lives in the greater Brisbane or Northern Rivers area not be able use the trail on weekends or during their holidays? Roughly what proportion of people between eight and eighty eight would not be able to cycle at some time because of ill health? Again roughly, what proportion of people would be unable to afford the to buy a bicycle – and what do the Greens propose to address access to such basic transport as a bicycle?Finally, dDo the Greens propose to no longer fund footpaths, other cycling infrastructure, accessibility infrastructure to beaches etc, park infrastructure and other any infrastructure in the Tweed that cannot be used in bad weather – if that is not your intention can you please explain why a rail trail is being singled out because it, in your view, cannot be used in bad weather. The NRAG may also care to explain why it sees fit to quote such comments that denigrate the rail trail – do its argument on the transport benefits not stand on their own merits?

    • As I suspected neither Hidden nor any of his supporters can justify his silly comments on the rail trail (to be fair to Hidden himself I guess he is a bit busy at the moment)! How ironic though that a Greens candidate is trying to picture cycling as a “boutique” activity – in other places Greens are among the strongest proponents of cycling infrastructure. In other places too Greens promote public transport. Yet over the last year, beyond their support for this very expensive transport that can only serves a minority of the Northern Rivers and with a very minimal timetable, I have not read one statement of specific support or commitment from them to real improvement of public transport in the area. There are sins of commission and sins of omission. By their failure to take more than this completely token action on public transport – particularly transport that serves the growing coastal areas – the Greens have sinned by omission against the youth, the poor, the elderly and other people who need better transport services. And the negative comments of Hidden and others that denigrate cycling on a rail trail, combined with a their lack of any other alternative initiatives to promote cycling in the region, only serve to diminish cycling more generally as a transport, recreation and sport – again how ironic and sad from people who think of themselves as “green”.

  4. Here we go again…stuck in the same old cycle again like a broken record. At this rate we will be exactly in the same place with no trains and no rail trail in another 12 years. The corridor will most likely be sold off by this time. A detailed feasibility study was released in 2014 on reinstating the C-M line – it found trains weren’t viable and don’t actually serve the majority of residents in our region now and in the future. Why can’t NRAAG and others just accept the study and move on rather than romanticising about return of the trains? Reinstating trains on this mostly single track line that was built on 18th century steam train alignment is simply a pipe dream and out of touch with reality.

    • Bit rich coming from a rail trail supporter. May I remind you that your Tweed rail trail failed its bid at funding (again) just a few weeks ago?

      That would be the second time that proposal has failed to gain funding.

      Meanwhile in Byron, construction is already in full swing on a new rail service there…

      • At least the rail trail has found to be viable unlike the option of reinstating trains on this corridor. But of course the train groups will tell us that the ARUP report on reinstating train services is wrong because they know better than an international consultancy of well respected engineers and transport planners. In time the funding for a rail trail will be sourced. Remember the rail trail push has only been going for a couple of years and not 12 years!

        Seems like the unpopular Bryon elements train just keeps getting delayed. Wasn’t it supposed to be up and operational by December last year? I won’t hold my breath for this 3 km resort train ‘service’.

        • If this rail trail is so viable then it would be up and running by now. Projects that are really truly viable are not refused funding twice in a row. The reason the Byron train is taking a little longer than expected is because of some setbacks including the fact their contractor was already engaged on another job until a few months ago. They also had to get their new stations approved and sort out a 1919 piece of legistlation regarding the town platform. All approvals to run on the line however were granted years ago, so they could have started to run trains ages ago.


    • That’s 19 century alignment Damon. But I can forgive you that because in every other aspect you are spot on. The efforts of groups like this are not just a waste of time, they are selfish and irresponsible. It is easy for councils and state governments to dismiss the suggestions to do with rail because they just do not stand up to scrutiny, and that allows those governments to ignore the need to actually improve public transport in the region (in the same way these Green candidates ignore that need).

        • Which irony are you referring to Gary – the irony of a group of Greens and their supporters who are undermining the development of public transport – or is it as I suspect that you found something ironic in my post – do tell.

  5. The alignment of the track as it currently stands may not be ‘dead straight’ and in keeping with ‘the modern standard’ to ‘maximize’ efficiency but it will work for an intelligent suite of transport requirements just fine, ie; tourism, commuting and freight. The existing corridor is a gift that we would be mad to under utilize for the leisure of a few cyclists.


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