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July 14, 2024

Railway group slams M’bah rail trail funding decision

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Members of the Northern Rivers Railway Action Group last Monday. (supplied)
Members of the Northern Rivers Railway Action Group last Monday. (supplied)

The Northern Rivers Railway Action Group has expressed disappointment at the decision of the NSW Tourism Minister to give $6.3 million to the rail trail in Murwillumbah.

The group believes if  the Federal government approves the additional funding this will mean the loss of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor.

Beth Shelley, spokesperson for NRRAG says, ‘We had a sign ‘We Need Trains” out the front of Southern Cross University last Monday for Premier Gladys Berejyglian to see as she drove past. It’s sad that she found out we were there and came in another way. Why not listen to all views?”

Jozie O’Callaghan from NRRAG said group members ‘just wanted to have a cup of tea with Gladys and talk about trains’.

Beth Shelley said many people believed that having a rail trail would protect the rail corridor.

‘The Casino to Murwillumbah railway line is protected under the 99A Transport Administration Act, which only an act of Parliament can amend,’ she said.

‘If the government passes rail trail legislation that is an act of parliament so the protection for the corridor will be gone.’

‘The State government approved the recent Tumbarumba rail trail legislation which means the Tumbarumba railway land has now become crown lands. As seen at Brunswick Heads recently the State government can hand over crown lands to developers without community consultation.’

‘Meanwhile we are confronted with urgent action needed on climate change, while more cars and trucks on the roads increase carbon emissions as well as causing more traffic congestion, more damage to already dangerous roads and therefore more road accidents’

‘Our ever increasing population of elderly people and people on disability benefits etc often cannot drive or have no car. It makes life so difficult for our most disadvantaged people. Trains are cheap, efficient and cut down carbon emissions and they can make life fairer and easier for people who are struggling.

Ms Shelley said the Northern Rivers Railway Action Group haddeveloped a petition through changes.org which is on the group’s facebook page.

‘We ask that our community speak out by signing and sharing this petition. If anyone would like to help with film screenings or meetings in their local area you can also email to nrrailwayaction @gmail.com

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  1. ← Letters | July 26, 2017 | by Echonetdaily
    Trains and transport

    Geoff Bensley, Byron Bay

    The local train groups didn’t have any strategies or options in place that would correspond and work with the 2011 Tweed Shire Transport Strategy document, and as such they ruined any chance of getting trains for the Northern Rivers. The Tweed shire states in this document that a train system will most likely follow the Pacific Highway corridor as that best suits the population growth regions of their Shire.
    The train groups ie TOOTs and NRRAG didn’t show any interest or support for this route and instead used the following options to give this region slow trains.
    This groups options are:
    1: Trains on the old corridor
    2: Trains on the old corridor
    3: Trains on the old corridor
    4: Trains on the old corridor.

    Even the new mayor of Tweed shire must not have read the Transport Strategy document , talk about an oversight.
    These train groups are so blinkered that they haven’t looked at other options for a train system on the Northern Rivers and we also lost any chance of the High Speed Rail line (that can also be used for normal outer urban trains ) that was on the short list for going thru Lismore and Mullumbimby to the Gold Coast and Brisbane . We had a chance of getting this but for the noisy and misguided of not wanting anything but ‘Trains on our old corridor ‘.

  2. Beth Shelley says, “Trains are cheap, efficient and cut down carbon emissions”

    Wrong, wrong and wrong..

    Trains are highly expensive to build and then operate.
    Trains are very inefficient unless they are 80% full of passengers, or more.
    Trains run on fossil fuels, like coal (heritage trains) or diesel, and are emission intensive.

    But not only those facts, but are also extremely inflexible in route choice, once built, and do not satisfy modern commuters that expect fast and diverse route needs.

    Politicians of note, understandably flock to the idea of the Rail Trail as the only possible project to re-activate our magnificent 1,000 acres of corridor land, from its derelict closed-off current condition.

    It’s time to encapsulate our rail past memorabilia and stories, to have them housed and displayed within the Rail Trail trust.
    Nostalgic train buffs can play an integral role in this important undertaking, whilst ensuring the ongoing public ownership of the corridor itself, for whatever its benefits will offer well into the future.

    The time has come, to come together for this very reason.

    The corridor is way more important than any of the sub-issues.

  3. A road corridor is not suitable for rail… The physical requirements are different, cars can take routes with larger degrees of grade change.

    Geoff, you are poorly and Ill informed


    Adam Briggs

    • http://atrf.info/papers/2004/2004_Laird_Michell.pdf . A 1 in 66 grade as recommended as a minimum from this railway infrastructure conference is easily achievable within the Pacific Highway road reserve corridor with minimal land buy up. As was stated many years in a state government report the Pacific Highway should have options for railways within the same corridor. Commuter trains require large radius curves ie 800metres or greater to allow passenger comfort and reasonable fast speed (105km/hr and above ) , the Northern Rivers between Lismore and Byron Bay plus Mullumbimby to Murwillumbah have numerous sub 400metre radius curves . The best way to keep people in cars and freight on the road is to reinstate the Northern Rivers railway on its existing corridor , keeping everyone travelling at the speed that they have done for the last 130 odd years.
      Or you could be like Tweed Shire Council who are looking at train system that will fit within the existing Pacific Highway corridor between Tweed Heads and Yelgun . This will better serve the coastal population explosion ,give a straight and fast commuter trains, and get people out of cars. You will notice this type of railway construction between Robina and Brisbane , interchange train/bus stations located near highway off ramps or near large shopping precincts.
      Having large carparks and bus drop off lanes are a prerequisite for a train system to work properly , I am not sure if the people of Bangalow would like a multi-storey carpark located in Station St?
      Eumundi Railway Station near Noosa was moved to the south of the town and the railway line was deviated to the east of the town ,keeping the 24/7 trains away from the heart of the town . Bangalow ,Mullumbimby, Byron Bay ,Billinudgel ,Mooball,Burringbar would also need deviating to avoid the joy of 24/7 noisey commuter and freight trains once the line is connected to the QLD rail system at Coolangatta air port.
      You may think this is futuristic but the population is exploding in SE QLD and Northern Rivers , in 20 years a 24/7 freight and passenger train system will be in place, will you want it thru the hearts of these towns or at a location in an already noisy place ie the Pacific and Bruxner Highway corridor?
      Unfortunately we have the heritage train groups feeding misinformation to the existing public railway groups here on the Northern Rivers saying that the existing rail corridor is suitable for trains. Suitable for coal/diesel heritage trains yes but not suitable for a reasonably fast commuter rail system.
      Will people get out of their cars and onto trains if they are slow? No
      Follow Rail QLDs lead with its straightening,deviations and gradient lowering of its railway system, they are getting freight off the road and people out of cars.
      Look at a train timetable and its travel time from Sydney to Casino and you will see a snail train that people don’t use except for the non time dependant and hugely subsidised travellers , it won’t get used by the majority but just a very minority group who have a hate against bus travel . The buses I travel on take 1hr to Coolangatta and 2hrs to Roma St Station , an easy trip ,fast and reasonably priced for the majority but not highly subsidised for the small minority. Reinstating a very slow and very expensive train system for a very small minority group is a waste of taxpayers money ,full stop . As both Damon and Peter state spend your energy on more better timetabled bus routes and timetables .
      TOOTs have been playing the same violin for over 10 years and haven’t had a retune in all this time , they sound like a broken record and the majority of the Northern Rivers residents hate the sound being emitted.

  4. Who is behind this idiotic move to destroy the rail infrastructure ?
    Apart from the State government ,who have overseen:
    The total thrashing of the Murray/Darling ,
    The clear-felling of the ‘sustainable ‘ forestry resources,
    The collapse of the overfished marine resources,
    The death of the Australian Dream of home ownership, due to uncontrolled immigration,
    And… the sell-off of all essential services ,electricity, roads ,schools, universities even Gaols !
    Why is it we allow this wanton destruction of what was once a “lucky country”?
    I suppose while ever there are urgers,like Geoff encouraging them to greater excesses, then who will resist their perverted urges to destroy the infrastructure that we already possess, in order to donate it to private interests. Thereby providing the perfect excuse to make no improvements in public transport ‘looking forward’ , as of course we will never again, be able to afford to acquire the corridor through Developer Land.

    • Why is Ken pissing int he wind for thirteen years for something that will not happen while ignoring people’s genuine transprot needs. With the removal of the rails I would expect some people might start lobbying for improvements to our bus services, something the government you clearly dislike has shown in the budget it is willing to deliver elsewhere. Then maybe the elderly and others can catch a bus from where they live around our dispersed region – to the various medical,educational and workplace locations, most of which are not in walking distance of the train stations.

    • http://theconversation.com/shifting-freight-to-rail-could-make-the-pacific-highway-safer-4882
      As Doctor Philip Laird Associate Professor from Wollongong University states in this article yes we need to get freight (and people) off our highways but the steam age alignment of the Sydney to Brisbane railway system is so slow it cannot compete with roads. The Northern Rivers line has an even worse steam age alignment with about 80 curves with a radius of less than 400 metres. Go and do your own research about what tight radius curves does to trains and how it is keeping people in cars . Stop singing a song about how great the old Northern Rivers line is for getting people out of cars , it ain’t . Why did the Tweed Shire Transport Strategy 2011 (Google it and read it yourself) state that it was not interested in the old corridor but a future system to follow the Pacific Highway corridor? Because Tweed Shire WANTs to get its residents into cars and freight off highways. Damn these heritage railway people trying to keep us in the steam age and riding in ‘slow trains’.

  5. I believe a rail trail will be a great big white elephant and remove any hope of actually getting passenger and freight trains back on the lines. We will see ever-increasing numbers of cars and heavy vehicles using roads with the consequent massive environmental impact and escalating accident statistics. Full marks to Queensland for their foresight in extending rail down the Gold Coast – generations to come in NSW will be amazed that this State allowed rail corridors to be lost.

    • Denise Your “white elephant” belief flies in the face of the well document success of rail trails elsewhere.The removal of the possibility of reintroducing of a rail passenger transport is a good thing as it will force people to start lobbying for real public transport for those who need it not trains for those that prefer them. The existence or otherwise of a rail service will make next to no difference to the number of cars in our area where well over 90% of journeys are made by car. Very few people ever used it and there is no evidence that suggests they ever will. The Gold Coast rail may be viable with its high population but even it accounts for only a small proportion of all journeys in the area. The number of cars will increase slowly in our area because that is how people prefer to travel and we will have modest growth in population over the next few decades. The number of accidents and their impact can be expected to continue to fall as we improve the vehicle fleet, tighten the control on car speeds, decrease alcohol and drug driving, and improve the road environment. Improvements in environmental impact are expected to mainly come from more efficient conventional vehicles, though increasing their occupancy through ride sharing can make for some improvements. Creating a safe cycling environment has been very successful in Europe in making a shift from cars for shorter trips – about half of trips in Holland and Denmark.are done on bikes . I do not know why you suggest the corridor might be lost. Implementing a rail trail, particularity if it runs the length of the corridor, will act to prevent its break up for real estate or road corridors. I note as always that the legislative framework for the rail trail prevents its use for any other purpose.

  6. It is to be expected the railway group would slam this decision. They slammed the ARUP report because it found the C-M line does not actually serve the growing population in our region and the expense of restoring the line that has pretty much disappeared in places far outweighs the benefits this 19th century single alignment, single track line can deliver. They will slam any decision on the corridor other than bringing trains which is not going to happen. After 13 years campaigning and achieving very little the Northern Rivers Railway Action group should be known as the “Northern Rivers Railway InAction group”. I really hope we don’t have to be writing these letters in another 13 years! It really is time these train groups did the right thing and step aside so other options for the corridor can be realised.

    Rail trails have exceeded partonrage expectations bother overseas and interstate. The only white elephant would be a train on the line. The line was closed in 2004 due to low patronage. The C-M Rail trail will make a world class trail and develop a sustainable eco-travel tourism industry to the small towns and villages along the line. This is exactly what happened in the case of the world famous Otago rail trail in New Zealand.

    One final comment, I couldn’t help notice there are only 8 people on the photo to this article. For me that sums it up – a loud minority?

  7. It is quite clear that the same old denialist rhetoric from train supporters is not going to change any time soon. Usually they average about 16 people in any one photograph but that has now dropped to 8 in this latest photo, such a contrast to the crowd at Murwillumbah Station for the rail trail funding announcement. Surely if they profess to be a majority they could muster up a better showing than that! They are nothing more than spoilers and we should ignore them. None of the comments by train supporters in the letters above contribute anything useful to the discussion about public transport in the Northern Rivers.

  8. Beth Shelley once again states that: “If the government passes rail trail legislation that is an act of parliament so the protection for the corridor will be gone”’ I have provided to Ms Shelley and other readers in this and other media since May the complete wording of the Explanatory Memorandum to the Tumbarumba rail trail legislation that forms a model for other rail trails: “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. ” Any attempt to sell off or use the corridor for another purpose would fail as it would be inconsistent with the intention of the legislation. I wonder which part of “…in order to create a rail trail for walking and bicycle use.” Ms Shelley cannot fathom? She has never responded to this explanation and she and other rail supporters simply continue to repeat their dishonest scare tactics.

  9. Look at what happened with old disused railway lines around Newcastle. They became housing. Thin access roads. Narrow house blocks.

    I see the funding of a rail trail :

    *for use of exclusive patrons (if you want to walk, why would you choose to walk there? Or is it designed for the few people with horses?).

    *A way to reclaim land from public use.

    Sure it may be better to put in new railway lines, more suitable for the fast trains. But has anybody suggested funding for this? Or offered to p[ay? I do not think so. I think so far it just looks like another disguised land grab, supported by fools/.


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