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Byron Shire
June 24, 2024

Richmond Valley and Lismore councils plan for rail trail

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Cyclist Robbie McEwen and supporters of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail. Photo supplied.
Cyclist Robbie McEwen and supporters of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail. Photo supplied.

Getting on board the rail trail corridor Robbie McEwen is keen to see the Murwillumbah to Casino rail trail get its planning under way.

McEwen is a Gold Coast-based rider with a professional road cycling career that spanned from 1996 to 2012.

Born in Brisbane, McEwen has more than 200 professional race wins – including 12 Tour de France stages wins.

‘Not only is Robbie a household name that will bring considerable momentum to the campaign, he is a leader in the Australian cycling community,’ said (Northern Rivers Rail Trail) NRRT spokesperson Marie Lawton.

Recently Richmond Valley and Lismore councils have both committed $50,000 towards planning for the section of Northern Rivers Rail Trail within their shire boundaries.

This will be supported by a 30 day crowd funding campaign starting on 6 June that Amis to raise another $75,000 for that planning.

‘Having Robbie involved will bring much greater awareness and support for that campaign,’ said Lawton.

McEwen joins former Deputy Prime Minister Doug Anthony as a patron of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail.

‘I’ve spent many hours training on the roads of the Northern Rivers and I did quite a bit of racing with the Murwillumbah Cycle Club, so I know how spectacular that area is,’ said McEwen.

‘As someone who has trained and raced in many parts of the world, I can safely say a trail along the Murwillumbah to Casino rail corridor would be one of the best in the world.

‘If you look at the success of trails in places like Otago on the New Zealand south island and compare their scenery to the landscapes and attractions we have here, you could be confident the Northern Rivers Rail Trail would bring in people from around the world.’

Tweed Shire Council has previously dedicated funding to planning and designs for its section of the corridor and, with NRRT support, is nearing completion of that process in a bid to have the first section of the rail trail.

‘There is a huge number of cyclists and generally active people just north of the border, right on the Tweed’s doorstep, and attracting them to the rail trail will be a big part of its success,’ continued McEwen.

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  1. There is no need to get a renowned cyclist if the two councils know they are working with the community.
    They must be working against the community. The Federal Government in the May Budget put up a Railway policy for regional areas, and they have the money, in billions of dollars.
    Ask the Federal Turnbull government and Barnaby Joyce if they believe in the Railway.

  2. What is proposed is not a RailTrail , its a cycleway for cyclists .

    You have a part of Australia with a high concentration of greenies and environmentalists and oxymoronically they do not want better public transport and reduced congestion on our deteriorating roads .

    • It is unclear what you see as oxymoronic. Most cyclists also want to see better uptake of public transport, but we recognize, as do all of the studies into public transport in the region, that train services would not be an economic way to provide that better public transport and would not reduce congestion or road damage. I have taken up riding with a group that does mid-week rides on many of the rural roads in our region. Between about seven and nine in the morning there is a heavy flow of traffic down those roads, as people commute to work and deliver their kids to school – in spite of the comprehensive school bus service – how would the train reduce that traffic? The train service would only serve a small proportion of commuters and kids who happen to live close to the corridor, and then only if the train traveled when they went to work or school (in the sixties parents in the Bay lobbied to have the train service to Mullum High replaced by buses because of the poor timetabling of the train). Trains are not a good public transport solution in a dispersed population of 200,000 like ours. Lobby for better bus services and discourage the the helicopter parents who insist on driving little Jonnie and Jill to school – then you might reduce some of that congestion and make our cycling more pleasant too.

  3. Never heard of Robbie McEwen but these are the sort of clowns that would join with former Deputy Prime Minister Doug Anthony in destroying the infrastructure built at great expense by those with more vision than any of these parasites.

    • The people who built the North Coast branch line – which included two of my great-grandfathers – did so because it served the needs of the time. It brought people and produce down to the port at Byron Bay which, in the absence of rail links to Brisbane or Sydney, was the main transport outlet for the region. They did not build it to provide a highly subsidised transport service for a minority of the population of this region. I can assure you the pioneers in my family would have seen little that was visionary in subsidizing a rail line that didn’t link to the current transport hubs – the Coolangatta and Ballina airports, and didn’t serve the areas where people now live a long the coast. My neighbour in Cumbalum was a bus driver in Canberra and regularly passed Doug Anthony on his small wheeled bike pedaling to the parliament. How appropriate then that a man who as Minister for the Interior was such a great visionary for our capital, and who actually practiced rather than preached sustainable transport, is part of the push to find a new purpose for a rail corridor that my great-grandfathers helped build, but which is now well past its use by date as public transport.

  4. Just take a look at the Otago Rail Trail and see the benefits that small communities have gained by it.
    Communities here that have missed out on passing trade since the highway upgrades.
    A trail for hikers, bushwalkers, birdwatchers, nature lovers, school study trips, oh and yes, ever cyclists.
    I doubt very much that racing cyclists like Robbie McEwen would be the slightest bit interested in riding the rail trail on their racing machines.
    The attraction to the trail would be huge, I live on the Sunshine Coast and would gladly travel to a rail trail, electric bike and all.
    This is not about restoring a railway, but taking advantage of a preformed track.

  5. The sooner the the pro-rail people get it into their head that the train is not coming back the better. It is just not going to happen. It is not viable. There is simply not the density of population to make it work. NSW Government has made that abundantly clear. Their position has been highlighted by the agreement to sell a small parcel of the corridor in Byron Bay. Rail is not coming back. The Rail Trail is supported by many people, and is proven world wide to bring tourists. It will run through a number of small villages that would benefit from it. Why not everyone get together and support it. If we don’t, and the land remains unused, the land will be sold. Then where does everyone stand?


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