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May 12, 2021

Rail trail supporters raise more than $75,000 for plan

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The Great Southern Rail Trail in Victoria. Photo gsrt.com.au
The Great Southern Rail Trail in Victoria. Photo gsrt.com.au

Supporters of a rail trail between Casino and Eltham have backed the idea with their own cash, raising more than $75,000 in just four weeks.

The Northern Rivers Rail Trail Association has been running a crowd-funding campaign, with the money to be used to help fund an engineering plan for the rail trail.

The campaign closed at 8am on 6 July with more than $75,500 raised from over 770 donations. Some donations started at $2.00, with an average donation of  $50.00.

Lismore City Council and Richmond Valley Council are also contributing $50,000 each towards the plan, which will be submitted to the state government for consideration.

NRRTA spokesperson Marie Lawton said ‘the people of the northern rivers have spoken through their generous support of the rail trail in this campaign’.

‘They want the Rail Trail and they want it as soon as possible.  It is now time for governments and local councils to get on board and start implementing this exciting project,’ Ms Lawton said.

There is $100 million available now, through RESART NSW – Regional Growth -Environment and Tourism and there will be a further 2 rounds of $100 million. The engineering study will help make the case for allocation of some of this money for the rail trail.

At the same time, Tweed Council are waiting for the results of their submission to State and Federal Governments for funding the other end of the trail at Murwillimbah.

‘The community really wants this trail constructed, for jobs, for tourism, and for a safe pathway for bikes, horses, walking, wheelchairs and prams. Physical and mental health go hand in hand with exercise, and a safe trail is an easy way to incorporate daily activity.

‘We just need to get it started either from Murwillumbah or from Casino – or maybe both, and it will grow! A big thank you to all our supporters for their generosity and commitment to make this happen,’ Ms Lawton said.


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  1. It sure has been a massive, active and committed monetary vote from people, to get moving on our wasted corridor, to prevent its selloff.

    We’ve all had enough of the irresponsible and negative Luddites that have absolutely no alternative feasible or substantive project within their thinking.

    The NRRT has so far been on this 4 year exercise, and it’s still in it’s infancy, with much work ahead.

    It’s such a shame (or sham) that the Greens within Byron Shire Council have been so amazingly asleep at the wheel on the whole corridor issue, with their still persistent dream state.
    They have no idea what a green-scape the Rail Trail offers Bangalow, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and beyond, with minimal traffic increase as well, and employment prospects for our kids to really get involved in and carve purposeful lives, and adding much community value too.

    Deep down, I’m convinced some of them know they’ve backed a dead horse with The Byron Line wasting $200,000 of ratepayers’ money.

    They need to take a breath of true Byron air and be encouraged to follow the lead from their true leader, Tamara Smith MP.

    The Rail Trail is coming, to offer eco-tourism with minimal impact, environmental remediation, and a wealth of family health benefits.

  2. A big thank you to Marie Lawton for her tireless energy in getting this wonderful community asset closer to a reality. With over 750 people willing to donate there is a definite large and wide demographic of our region wanting this rail trail. Looking forward to walking ,running or cycling with my family on the trail .

  3. Congratulations to the team of people who have gathered so much support as demonstrated by the funds received from the community. Byron Shire Council ought to get behind the rail trail and stop wasting rate payers money on their ridiculous 200k rail study. I love trains, but we will never get the dosh needed from the state to safely convey trains on those rails and over all those rickety bridges again. Don’t they know that Sydney’s ‘light rail’ is costing more than $2bn for a measly 12kms? Our councillors need to get real and respond to the community to protect this public asset for all. A rail trail from Casino to Murwillumbah would be ace!

  4. It seems so obvious to me that, as much as I love trains, resurrecting the Murwillumbah to Casino line, will never be viable. We simply don’t have the numbers. That’s why it closed 10 years ago. A rail trail seems to make simple commonsense. I’m really looking forward to cycling into the village of Eltham with my grandkids, getting a room and a pizza at the pub, and then cycling on to Lismore the next day. Or maybe it will be great grandkids by that time, but thanks to Marie and the team, it feels like the ball is rolling.

  5. I agree with Marie Lawton, we want the rail trail and we want it as soon as possible. After such a long wait we deserved a ‘fast tracked’ community trail, it would be heartbreaking to have to wait years still.

  6. It will cost way too much and to be honest I don’t think too many people will be in any hurry to ride the Lismore to Casino stretch as that would have to be the most boring and unappealing thing ever. It won’t get very far especially when the vast majority of the trail will turn tourists away not bring them in. I think the usage numbers of this trail has been overestimated and blown up out of proportion too. 770 cashed up supporters is by no stretch of the imagination majority support. That would be what 2% of the population?

    This rail trail will be a disaster for us all.

    • Gary The figures suggested in the Feasibility Study are not just somebody’s thoughts. They are based on actual usage on rail trails in Australia, which have not been declining. Perceptions of the attractiveness of scenery are a personal thing. I rode in our area at the end of a three year odyssey in many areas of “chocolate box: scenery like Bali, rural Britain, the Alps and the Pyrenees and California. but I still found the ride through our area scenic, including the back road that follows the Casino – Lismore line which, like much of the Australian bush, has its own more subtle charms once you leave the confines of an air-conditioned car (or train). The areas that the Victorian trails pass through are in no way more scenic than our own, and they do not have the benefit of the frequent and interesting towns and villages that are part of the special appeal of our area. I have said it before Gary, your continued denigration of the trail proposal with these fanciful reasons that it will fail is denied by the well documented success of trails elsewhere. That you now try to denigrate people’s honest and open support calling them “cashed-up” really leaves it open that you are turning your frustration that the NSW government has no intention of bringing back the rail, on a group of people who trying to a put in place an alternative and more realistic use for the corridor.

  7. Congratulations to the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Association team on a fantastic effort in securing funding for engineering work on the proposed trail. It is however sad that while some people are putting in so much effort for what should be a great contribution to our economy and the health and well-being of visitors and locals alike, there are still naysayers trying to undermine their efforts. Some people were concerned that the Amendments to the legislation that will allow rail trails might lead to a sell-off of the corridor. In the Echo on 24 May I responded to one such concern by quoting in full the Explanatory Memorandum to the rail trail legislation : “The object of this Bill is to amend the Transport Administration Act 1988 (the Act) to authorise the rail infrastructure owner to close the railway line that runs from McEachern Lane, Rosewood to Tumbarumba in order to create a rail trail for walking and bicycle use. ” Plainly as long as the same wording is used in the legislative framework for our corridor, selling off the corridor for say real estate, or a bypass road in Byron would lie outside the intention of the Amendment. In spite of pointing this out, I read recent posts from local pro rail activists on Facebook suggesting the Amendment would mean the land can be sold off, and that the protections on the corridor would be removed. It is disappointing to find people in our region, who I do not doubt have a genuine – if misguided – interest in protecting the corridor, are still pedaling the falsehood that the rail trail amendment will allow closure for any other purpose than “… to create a rail trail for walking and bicycle use .“


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