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Byron Shire
October 22, 2021

Byron Line idea takes off

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Peter Finch, proponent, Byron Bay TramLink

At the third meeting of Friends of The Byron Line on Monday night the community group led by Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson saw rail based projects take a positive turn for using the north coast rail infrastructure.

It’s a win situation for everyone, from local residents to business owners to tourists, everyone stands to benefit from this exciting concept.

There have been 12 years of bicker and blame over the loss of rail services and now that Northern Rivers Rail Trail has withdrawn interest in joining a co-operative agreement for sharing the tracks with other groups, the Friends of the Byron Line will move ahead and consider rail based propositions which can incorporate cycling facilities where possible.

Byron Bay TramLink is my proposal to use the tracks to operate heritage trams and light rail vehicles to open up options for exploring the Shire, and also providing local community transport.

There could be rail services using trains, trams and light rail, pedal trolleys as a tourist activity and where possible, a cycle path can be created adjacent to the rail tracks.

The decrease in tourism numbers in the region isn’t ringing alarm bells just yet but being able to show off the shire in unique style will keep Byron at the forefront of must-see places for overseas visitors, and should the concept really take off, as the group expects, there’s no reason why Lismore and Tweed can’t also enjoy some of the pie baked by Byron Shire.


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  1. All were there for the great train of thought and there was a lot of thinking. No one was blinking.
    Byron Mayor Simon Richardson was in the engine room stoking the fire shovelling the coal at the third meeting of Friends of The Byron Line on Monday night while the community put their shoulder to the wheel making things turn by using the north coast rail infrastructure. Everyone added to the structure. You could hear the whistle wail on down the line while the hot steam pushed the rods and the axles and the wheels whined on the steel rail as everyone pulled their weight in making the dream feel real. We were steaming through the cuttings and cutting down the problems.
    And then we all sat back in our seats in the carriage and listened to the chit chat and the clickety clack as the meeting started to run and collect speed, and unity was in the air and what we had was a train, a train with a master at the wheel and others in training learning to travel through the countryside on board a mode of transport of the mind. Ahh, the exhilaration you can find when you have an idea.

  2. Finch’s dismissal of a cycle path as an afterthought “if possible” is an extraordinary attitude in an area which we are always told values ecologically sustainable lifestyles and transport. I have noted before that tourists-based rail operations would complement cycle-based use of the corridor – people rail one way cycle back. There is no recognition here of the the Council’s Byron Line proposal: that rail operations fund cycle infrastructure. It is normal for major road improvements to include funding for accompanying cycle lanes or paths along the same corridor. That recognizes that the main risk to the safety of cyclists is the co-existence with heavier faster transport, and the cost of the infrastructure is relatively low. In this case the provision of cycle links between the towns along the corridor can more effectively and attractively be made along the rail rather than road corridor. There is little evidence in its existing infrastructure, but you would expect the “progressive” dominated Byron Shire would be at the van of arrangements for provision of sustainable transport infrastructure like a cycle path. The Mayor in concert with the State government needs to start taking a much greater interest in the most ecologically sound transport of all – the bicycle. A good start would be to show some leadership on this matter and tell the public how a cycle path can be funded on the rail corridor or where that is difficult on an alternative quiet safe alignment.

  3. Puting a W Class Melbourne tram on our rail corridor, would require enormous catenary infrastructure to be built, to diliver the Grafton coal fired power to the tram’s two 600Volt DC motors.
    In doing so, huge clearings would be necessary for electrical safety from any nearby trees.

    A stepdown transformer substation would also need to be built.

    What an ugly sight all that crap would be on our poor pristine corridor.

    What a long way backwards we’ve come, from our Green and alternative roots.

    The Byron Line needs to get serious about what it truly stands for..

    • coal fired? Pristine corridor? LOL. Shows how much you know about rail.
      Trams don’t have to be electrified, they can run the same way as the rail motor coming to Byron next year – diesel electric.
      Putting in overhead electric wires would no doubt post a safety problem for putting in bike paths alongside it.

      • AB, Peter Finch expressly said that he would buy the power from the grid.

        He didn’t have any intention to run his tram on fossil fuel.

        By pristine, I mean that what wildlife exists in the 1,000 acres of our corridor, is pretty much left to evolve under it’s own ecology, unaffected by overt human interference.

      • Why would putting in overhead wired pose a safety problem for cyclists – unless they are unicycle trapeze artists using the overhead wires? It would clearly despoil the visual attractiveness for the cyclists and anyone who lives in its vicinity, but more importantly it would it would generate electo-magnetic radiation which we know by the number of letters is, after flouride in water, the number one health hazard in the Northern Rivers.

  4. I am not sure how this is “taking off” if there is no decision between “trains, trams and light rail, pedal trolleys”. Once that decision is made then put together a viable business plan then you can say that it is taking off.

  5. All across Australia tourist rail services are struggling to exist. Way up North in NSW the Dorrigo line can’t get a train to run after many years of trying. Oberon’s newsletter says a lot about their operations, but is peppered liberally with requests for donations http://othr.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Novemebr-Newsletter-2016.pdf. They have been operational for 10 years and still haven’t run a train on their line, despite an active volunteer community. Why will it be any different in Byron?
    Charities (and that is what the proposal would be) across Australia are also struggling to attract donations while call centres are willing to take the bulk of the money (see the latest news on the RFS).
    Puffing Billy in Victoria is subsidised by the Government to the tune of close to $5million per annum to cover their operating losses and has a huge volunteer base.
    Under our present State Government, the rail corrido won’t reopen in the near or distant future. The tram/trolley proposal is flawed and hasn’t even been costed on the back of a pub coaster, let alone had any form of feasibility study even proposed.
    Meanwhile, some very well prepared proposals for linear recreational facilities catering for walkers, runners and cyclists sit idle, when they should be operating all across NSW. Perhaps Victoria and New Zealand have nobbled our Government so they won’t lose any of the large slice of NSW revenue they get from Rail Trail Tourism?


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