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Byron Shire
July 14, 2024

Railway film to be shown at Bangalow

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Members of Trains On Our Tracks and the Northern Rivers Railway Action Group at a protest at the Casino airport. (file pic)
Members of Trains On Our Tracks and the Northern Rivers Railway Action Group at a protest at the Casino airport. (file pic)

Supporters of a commuter rail service for the northern rivers are being urged to attend a film night in Bangalow tomorrow evening to have their say about proposed rail trails.

The Northern Rivers Railway Action Group will be screening its film, Bringing Trains Back to the Northern Rivers, at the Bangalow RSL Club at 6pm on Tuesday (24 January).

NRRAG chairperson Beth Shelley said Tweed Council had already agreed to a rail trail and the Byron Shire Council was currently asking for submissions about what to with the Bangalow railway grounds.

‘We’re concerned about any rail trail proposals because we want to see a regular, commuter rail service for this area and if the rail trail legislation goes through the whole rail corridor will no longer be protected from being sold off,’ Ms Shelley said.


A report from CRC Transforming rail: A key element in Australia’s low pollution future states that:

  • Rail freight causes up to 19 times less emissions than road freight.
  • Rail freight is up to 23 times more energy efficient than road freight.
  • Rail is the solution to congested roads – 1 train takes 525 cars or 110 trucks off the roads.
  • An average passenger train reduces carbon emissions by the same amount as planting 320 hectares of trees.

‘We need our railway line for the future because there are so many issues, climate change, air pollution, traffic congestion and road accidents that require a sensible solution and it all points to rail for passengers and freight.’

Ms Shelley said she had spoken to two  young men from Bangalow’s food mart who said, “I’d jump at the chance to come to work on the train as it costs me heaps in petrol now,” and, “Imagine going for a surf after work just by getting on the train”.

‘We’re hoping the Bangalow community will see our film and write submissions on the spot for the Byron council consultation process which closes on the following day, January 25th.We will also be showing the film at the Tweed in the near future.

‘This is our opportunity to be listened to… Come along and enjoy the free film and make what you want happen.

‘We need the whole community of the Northern Rivers to get on board with this plan for the future for our economy, our environment and our many and varied communities.’

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  1. It would be fantastic to be able to catch a train to Byron or Lismore from Bangalow again. Bangalow had such a pretty little station. It even won awards for its gardens in competitions before it closed. With a little work it could be a real tourism drawcard

    This sounds great. Can’t wait!

  2. It would be fantastic to be able to catch a train to Byron or Lismore from Bangalow again. Bangalow had such a pretty little station. It even won awards for its gardens in competitions before it closed. With a little work it could be a real tourism drawcard

    This sounds great. Can’t wait!

  3. If the legislation is changed to allow the corridor to be used for a rail trail, this will protect the corridor from being sold off. There are rumblings now about selling of parts of the corridor because it is a disused asset. Using it is the best way to protect it. It will be still available for future train use. Where are NRRAG getting this information from?

    • The question is where are YOU getting your info from Marie?

      The Transport Administration Act.1988 states that no gazetted rail corridor can be sold off. It also states that the rail infrastructure present cannot be dismantled or removed provided it is in a gazetted rail corridor. We all know this presents a problem for you as your rail trail requires the tracks to be removed and the Casino to Murwillumbah line is still a gazetted rail corridor, so it’s not officially closed, rather ‘service suspended’. To officially close a rail line, Act of Parliament must be passed to allow for the the corridor to be degazetted. This would mean that everything, including the land, can be sold off at any time. The Ballina Branch line was officially closed and degazetted – Look at it now, disappeared and land sold back to the farmers decades ago.

      The NRRT already know all this which is why they resubmitted the Rail Trail Bill (It has failed to pass on numerous occasions since 2009) in 2015 to combat this protective legislation. The Bill proposed to make it frightfully easy for people to formally close and remove rail lines, by taking away the need for an Act of Parliament before a rail line can be closed and destroyed.

      Thankfully the Bill failed to pass (again) and the corridor has been left protected. The Bill failing to pass also means no rail trail can legally be created on this line.

      Marie, you and the NRRT say the corridor is at risk of being sold because it is “unused”. Well that has all changed now. That point could have been valid about five years ago, but not today.

      Byron Bay Railroad Company have recently entered a leasing agreement with the Government to use the rail line for their operations. This means they pay the Government money to use it. I certainly cannot understand why the government would want to get rid of an asset that is making them money – Especially when there are dozens of other lines across NSW that have been completley unused for decades longer than this one, are not making the government a cent and yet have not been sold off.

      I mean, this doesn’t by any means mean the rail trail will not happen, It’s just that it will have to go beside the tracks – An option favoured by many and a win-win situation for all.

      • The example of the Booyong-Ballina line shows clearly corridors that are not used can be sold off. The rail trail is an immediate use for the corridor that has been subject to a feasibility study that shown=s the benefits it will bring to the region. The only other foreseeable rail prospects are tourist uses and the proposed Bangalow tram operators have made it quite clear to me that it is not intended as a public transport service. There has been no credible assessment that shows a public transport rail would be viable (the 2004 PwC plainly set out to justify a train service – tellingly its TORs did not allow it to consider the sensible alternative of improving the bus timetabling of services along the corridor). The Tweed Shire has planned for better bus services and a busway down the coast in the medium term which could in future decades be used for rail, which to link to Brisbane and the Gold Coast would need to be on QLD gauge, but not fir decades. If that were to occur, and population growth and transport use patterns were to shift to public transport, there might be a case for linking extending the 3′ 6″ line along the corridor . In that case the rail trail will have helped protect the corridor and it would be a very small cost to replace it parallel to the rails compared with the cost of building the new line.

  4. No Rail Trail = No corridor activation = Unused State Asset = Threat of corridor selloff.

    Rail Trail = ONLY viable option for corridor funding = ONLY chance for corridor activation = Corridor is under no threat of selloff = Trains in the future, have a chance of being reinstated.

    It’s as simple as that.

    The sooner we realise this, the sooner we ALL reach our goal of holding onto our wonderful corridor for community use.

  5. Freight trains run at night during off peak hours ie after 9pm and thru too 6am. Freight trains are much noisier than commuter trains . Yes for freight trains thru the heart of Bangalow at midnight.
    The best way to attenuate noise from freight trains at night is to install double glazed windows, noise batts in ceilings and air conditioners.
    Also listen to this podcast from a transport engineer talking about the sad state of the NSW railway system.
    Sydney to Brisbane freight by rail is 10% , Brisbane to Cairns is 30%.

  6. it’s a shame you havn’t scheduled this screening during the day, when those of us who use the limited public transport available, could attend!!!!

  7. It’s ridiculous that we don’t have train service up here. So many people miss out on enjoying all that the Northern Rivers has to offer because of our pathetic transport options. A lot of people are doing without things they’d rather have because every house has to carry the expense of having 2 or 3 cars. Bring back the trains and slowly there’ll be less cars on the roads. The roads are much too dangerous anyway, anyone with half a brain worries about their family and friends having to travel on them.

    • Before the rail service was suspended it had been steadily declining in use – whole bus services maintained their usage. The recent survey on transport showed the main impediment to a transfer from private car use was not the presence of a train but timetabling and routes. The train line only serves 40% of the areas population and would never run as frequently as bus services could with the same level of subsidy. And bus services can serve all of the high frequency and high priority routes used by commuters, the elderly, youth,and students. Why should the NSW people provide a highly subsidized public transport to the noisy minority along the line when there are well documented higher priority routes, and a better chance of achieving a shift from car dependency, through bus services that are more economical and which in real life generate less pollution per user? Yes it is a no-brainer – push the so called green politicians for a well thought through public transport network for the people of the Northern Rivers, not an infrequent dated polluting train service to please a minority of train enthusiasts along the corridor.

      • Bus services are not suited to disabled and elderly people who could depend on public transport. It would be easier to take a bicycle onto a train too. Little things like that would increase the use of public transport. Buses aren’t good for the roads either

        • Angie The bus services in Canberra are extensively used by the elderly and by disabled people, including those in wheelchairs and the visually impaired, The train offers no advantage to the elderly and it does not serve the areas on the Ballina and Tweed coasts where the greatest number of older people live. It is much easier to take a bicycle on a bus in Canberra because (almost) all have bike racks. By contrast if you want take a bike on a train in NSW you have to dismantle and box it (and don’t think the latter is going to change in a hurry – some of us have been trying to change it since the 1970s). Any shift to local public transport is going to be at the margin in the modern rural Australia, but all the evidence is that buses would shift more car users. The biggest shift to public transport from cars is to planes for longer trips, which with heavy passenger numbers per plane these days are more energy efficient than trains or cars. Many people who otherwise would drive will use public transport to access airports but the train of course does not serve either of the main airports. The impact of the relatively small increase in the number of buses on the roads compared with other traffic would be quite marginal and much cheaper than the recurrent costs of a rail service In respect of Gary’s comments, the rail supporters have variously called for a return to the XPT to a tram and everything in between. But because of their high recurrent costs no rail service can at anything like the frequency of buses – the latter are much cheaper. Just because the NSW government was willing to provide a highly subsidized public transport service in decades past to the very vocal minority who live along the line does not mean it should or would today. Again I urge you to read the regional and the Tweed transport plans and to consider first not the transport mode but the regions people people – where the people who might use public transport are most likely to live and where they are likely to want to go.

        • Angie why do so many disabled and elderly people in Canberra use the bus services? And which is easier – putting the bike on rack on front of the bus as we do in Canberra, or dismantling it an putting it in a bike box as NSW rail requires? And the cost of any damage done to the roads by buses, which are a small proportion of all traffic, is nothing compared with the recurrent costs of runnin g a train service. In respect of Gary’s comments on mine – I have read support for rail services from a tram to an XPT, and everything n between, none of which would do anything that buses could not do, appropriately timetabled,and more cheaply and more frequently..

      • Petrus, the rail supporters want nothing of the kind! What we want is frequent service that means everyone can use it. Something like a tram or railmotor similar to the Byron Bay one would be fabulous for this line. The previous XPT service was good for Sydney travellers, but useless for the rest of the region.

  8. Rail trail will not “save the corridor” it will rip up the tracks. The corridor is already protected by legislation which I’m sure you will find out if you go and see this film. Yes we do need to use it though, and this is the best time to support rail proposals like Simon Richardson’s Friends of the Byron Line where he has proposed investigating track based uses including rail services from Bangalow to Yelgun and/or rail explorers. Rail explorers from Bangalow to Byron would be a good option too because they are a local family, the business has been very successful over in USA, and they also planned to run a tram. We CAN do it.


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