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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

The facts about the trains and rail trail

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It’s hard to know where to start on the inaccuracies and contradictions in Mr Shanasy’s letter re Rail Trail Rolled last week.

The statement that ‘no government has expressed any interest in committing the enormous funds needed to get trains back’ is untrue and there are miles of media footage and photos to prove it.

Local politicians and members from both the Labor and National Parties were prominent in the initial campaign to save the train.

For over eight years local National Party MPs, and then Leader of the Opposition Barry O’Farrell, repeatedly promised to provide a commuter train service on the Casino to Murwillumbah (C-M) line and investigate building the rail connection to Coolangatta.

They claimed  the service would cost no more than the  slow, uncomfortable CountryLink buses that people hate or cannot use.

The $4m cost to repair three kilometers of the Byron section of line shows the C-M line could be repaired for $171.6m, (even doubled it’s only $343.2m) which is far from enormous, especially when compared to the billions spent upgrading the one hundred kilometers of Pacific Highway from Tweed to Ballina.

Of course when the Odeid mess hit the fan and the Liberal/Nationals new they would be elected regardless of how many promises they broke, they lost interest in train services for the North Coast. It had nothing to do with the cost or necessity of the service.

While Mr Shanasy claims that there’s ‘no incentive to even consider a rail rebuild along the 1894 alignment’ he goes on to contradict himself when he states that ‘there must be a united wish for holding onto the corridor for ‘future use’ but then states ‘the whole community must realise governments are not going to fund rail infrastructure on this corridor’.  These comments reveal the duplicity of the bikers’ claim that they want to rip up the line to save it for future train services.

The North Coast community has invested a huge amount of time, money and effort over fourteen years to get Trains On Our Tracks and save the valuable rail corridor for train services.

They are not about to allow the line to be destroyed and replaced with an expensive bike track for a few cyclists.

The politicians are well aware of the overwhelming community support for train services or they would have destroyed the line and sold off the valuable land years ago.

While the ‘rip up the rails group’ are so fixated on their agenda to deprive millions of a viable, safe, sustainable public transport service, the state government is selling off rail land in Byron for a song, which may be the start of a mass sell-off.

Thus destroying any chance of having a bike track alongside the train line, which is where it needs to be.  Bike tracks are not public transport and cannot replace train services.

Scientists are telling us that we need to do more to reduce emissions and the catastrophic effects of climate change. The (world first) zero emissions solar train in Byron has exceeded expected passenger numbers and demonstrates how popular a train service on the whole line would be.

Building and maintaining roads and highways is not only many times more costly than rail, the added cost of road deaths and injuries, plus the cost to the environment and wildlife, is massive.

Upgrading rail services to make them faster and more user friendly is the only sensible way to go.

Regular train services on the C-M line to connect communities and link up with the main line at Casino, and building the link to Coolangatta, is the only cost effective, safe, sustainable way of providing public transport for locals and five million tourists to the region, at the same time saving lives, reducing traffic congestion and toxic emissions in our towns.

Louise Doran, Ocean Shores

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    • ” *** OUCH *** “,

      said poor Corridor, “Can’t train people see that after 14 long years, I need to be loved, not neglected any more.
      Corridor went on to say, ” I NEED TO BE USED BY ANYONE THAT LOVES ME, I’ve had trains for long enough, and I can’t do that anymore because people want really convenient and fast transport to where they actually WANT to go. These Trail people seem to understand that I could live happily for many decades into the future, as a glorious adventure journey, for free. They know, as I do, that I have a HUGE amount to offer everyone “.

      And so, Corridor lies there, lamenting those that are enslaving it to a horrid weedy suffocating and lonely death.

      Please give generously, your thoughts and prayers, to poor Corridor.

  1. Brilliant Louise, I couldn’t agree more. We need trains on our tracks not a bunch of cyclists riding for their own & exclusive use. I took a trip to Sydney years ago in 1999, The journey was beautiful, boarded in Murwillumbah alighted at Central the next morning, no fuss straight through journey. Couldn’t say that for vehicular transport these days….. Richard…..

    • What you are yearning for was an XPT service along the line to Sydney. So who is going to pay the $900 million to restore the line to carry heavy long distance trains? Toots and NRRAG will tell you it’s less than that for a commuter train, and one of its supporters posted on NRRAG’s Facebook site “Toot and nrrag are campaigns for a local commuter service nothing else lol”, and none of its members disputed that statement. Note well the words “nothing else”. However commuter rail is not stated Green policy. It refers in its Transport Vision 2020 to re-opening the service to Lismore that was closed in 2004, which was of course the XPT. They claim this can be done for $330m which they state was “fairly costing’. I have written to them asking but their transport spokesperson does not seem to be able to answer my query as to how they derive the figure – which is remarkably like the figure suggested by one railway engineer for a lighter slower commuter rail – not the XPT type service you want.
      The reality readers is that rail enthusiasts love to cherry pick from the data on the costs, benefits and patronage of different rail services, but they are they unable to come up with any professionally costed package of rail restoration and services that would meet more than the most marginal transport needs in our area and do so without stripping funding from higher priority transport needs here and elsewhere in NSW.

  2. Tim’s statement was “no government has expressed any interest in committing the enormous funds needed to get trains back’”. Local members and opposition leaders will often try and curry favour with electors by promising what they cannot deliver but only a government can commit funds to rail and none since 2004 has done so or has any plan to do so. Indeed the NR Regional Plan 2036 does not even show the rail line.

    The Elements train is rightly popular as it is a fine if brief tourist experience trip but it is irrelevant to serious planning for the transport needs of our area. I enjoyed my trip on the train but the following conversation that I heard on Lawson Street Station was a good reflection of its public transport benefit. An elderly woman asked if she could ride it and then come straight back, the Elements ticket collector suggested her companion drive her to the Bayshore Drive station, so she could ride it to town and back. As the Elements train and station manager, Brian Flannery, told the local media that ‘while it was “the way of the future” for rail, he thought it unlikely rail would service other parts of the region. “Rail costs a lot of many to build and upgrade’. The proponent of the Byron Tramlink wrote similarly on his Facebook: “A tourist line is the only realistic service that could run on this line but in reality there is little to offer the tourist in Casino or Lismore. A high speed, high capacity passenger service similar to the XPT would simply not be financially viable, but a rail motor could be a consideration. However as for providing a regular passenger transport service it’s doubtful there would be sufficient passengers to sustain the operation. Fares would be astronomical and the government would not subsidize the operation.”
    The only party supporting reopening the line are the Greens and its policy is for a return of a government run XPT service (not a commuter service). The actual cost to the government of restoring the line would only be known after the bids are opened but do you really think the final cost will be that much less than the estimate provided to government by the international rail consultancy firm Arup? Governments planning to proceed with a project would not normally spoil the tender process by keeping costing estimates confidential; governments who have no intention of doing so – because there are few benefits and it is plainly a large cost – are happy to release the estimated figure.

    The cost of building and maintaining our roads is paid for by motorists through road user fees, fuel excise and taxes, and it is what the overwhelming majority of Australians demand. Because the numbers of car occupants per day is much higher it does not cost the government nearly as much per occupant to provide and maintain the road from Casino to Murwillumbah as it cost to take a rail passenger along the same route. And a plane journey costs the government virtually nothing per passenger from Ballina or Coolangatta to Sydney, and it usually costs the passenger less than the train fare from Casino, and only a half or a third of the total cost without government subsidies. That is why no government in the foreseeable future is interested in reopening the rail service.

    The Green mayor of the Tweed told the NRRAG pro-rail publicity stunt in Murwillumbah she is interested in getting community views on the use of the corridor. Mayor Milne supports rail services so it is plain why she wants to “consult”. Ratepayers in Shires along the corridor should be wary of strategic moves like this toward rail services, as few of those ratepayers would want their rates increased by hundreds of dollars to pay for commuter rail (as happened in the ACT to fund the light rail pushed on the Labor government by the Greens).

    The Northern Rivers Rail Trail group has stated in the Northern Star that it is not concerned by the impact on the rail trail of the current sale of railway land in the Bay. The sale is not of land adjacent to the corridor, and on that stretch there is room for both a trail and the Elements tourist train. However the unused corridor is indeed ripe for selling or being given to adjoining farmers. A rail trail is the one possible use that can protect it along its length, with a protective legislative framework agreed to by Labor and the Greens, and a community of small businesses, employees and their families, and cyclists joining rail buffs to lobby against any move to get the parliament to allow a sell-off of the corridor.

    Bus services take passengers from Byron Bay to Casino in the same time as the XPT and to Coolangatta in the time the XPT took to Murbah. Road based public transport serves all the people in our region – not just the minority who live along the corridor – and they can make those huge investments in safe fast and comfortable travel along the Pacific available to those who do not or choose not to drive. Join our Green MLA Tamara Smith in her lobbying to get us our fair share of the improved bus services the government is rolling out in other parts of NSW.

  3. Just because politicians are active does not mean they are trying.
    To try means to succeed.
    The train is not back meaning they did not try to get it back.
    The major parties are hopeless because it is they who direct the money away from the railway.
    They are in charge of the money. They are in charge of the funds. They are in charge of the economy.
    In 2004 it was Greens Lee Rhiannon who told the public that the rail line would be closing.
    The major parties could not do that.
    Has the return of the rail service succeeded? No
    Has the establishment of a rail trail succeeded? No.
    Where is the money?
    It is in Sydney being used in Sydney.
    NSW stands for Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong.
    Meanwhile the major parties of State and federal governments are talking of an inland fast rail from Brisbane to Melbourne.
    Barnaby Joyce is all for it. It will cater for the Elvis Presley festival in Parkes.
    That line is a better bet, but I don’t think the funding has been signed off yet.

    • Sorry I’ll Be it was NOT Former MLC Lee Rhianon who told the community train services would be stopped-it was the incompetent ALP Minister for (NO) Transport Michael Costa(lot).

      But you’re right in saying that our taxes are being used in Sydney and Private Public Partnerships with corporations mainly to build new tollways which will cost road users (and the rest of us) the earth.

      But corporations will be making billions.

      So that’s alright then.

      • You repeatedly refer to the cost of roads Louise but they are built because the overwhelming majority Australians choose to use private road transport – it is the only way to get to the myriad destinations we need to go at all times of the day – and we want to do so comfortably and safely. Apart from electric vehicle users who for the moment are free-riding on others, car users pay more in taxes than the outlays on roads. That is not completely unreasonable as car use generates externalities, such as air and noise pollution, traffic hazards for pedestrians and cyclists, and in urban areas congestion, and sprawl. Some of the subsidy paid by car users goes to support public transport which in cities helps reduce congestion and point of use pollution. The heaviest subsidy per user from your taxes is for rail. This may be justifiable in Sydney as rail can take a lot of cars off the road, but in our area congestion and point of use pollution are not significant issues. Rail will not contribute to relieving other issues with road transport as it is not capable of meeting the transport needs of more than a small fraction of our residents, so it would contribute little to reducing private car use.
        In wealthier densely populated countries in Europe, and also in Japan, public transport is much better than here, but private cars remains the main transport in rural areas, with cycling popular for shorter distances. Those countries invest heavily in quality road infrastructure with provision for safe cycling – and they too contract their construction to private companies. It is again what people want but it also makes car travel safer and enables lighter and so more economical cars. The lack of priority given to building and maintaining road infrastructure in the Byron, Tweed and Lismore LGAs costs leads to greater private and public costs, as motorists face heavier fuel and maintenance costs in heavier cars, and mean fewer people choose cycles for shorter journeys because they do not feel comfortable or safe using shoddy roads with no cycle lane markings.
        Good roads are expensive, Louise, but neglecting and not developing our road system is much more expensive for us and the planet.

  4. The rail trail supporters generally think the train won’t come back on that particular corridor (although we don’t know for sure of course) – because that’s what the major parties are telling us. They may have said something different 14 years ago, but things have changed. Even in Sydney and Melbourne where they have terrific public transport, most people still drive to work.
    The rail trail supporters would like the corridor to be used by walkers and cyclists, keeping a beautiful space for people to use. If the train ever did come back, the rail trail would have to go – this has happened in other places. The infrastructure would have to be updated and replaced in most areas as the ballast is corrupted. If no corridor, no train or rail trail. Rail Trail is the only option right now.

  5. I find both the ‘Nothing but trains’ and the ‘rip up the rails and nothing but trail’ camps unacceptable.
    Commuter trains would be great, particularly since I can usually take my bike on them. I’m one of those cyclists who would benefit from a trail and there would be many more who currently find our roads too dangerous. The problem is the probable wait for Sydney-centric politicians to see personal profit in funding that train service.
    Before ripping up any rails I would like to know who expects to benefit from the huge amount of extremely valuable scrap steel. There is no need to remove the rails to enable a trail. In fact the rails could be used where a trail alongside is difficult. If the trains return other arrangements can be made.
    It’s been a long time and this incredibly valuable corridor is already being broken up. We need a resolution and the polar opposites are just getting in the way.

    • There is no need to rip up any rails-a bike track can and should be built alongside the rails-not depriving anyone of safe, sustainable, cost effective public transport, especially those unable to drive, or afford a car.

      Bike tracks are NOT public transport and cannot replace trains!

      The politicians are aware that there’s no community support for destroying the rail line for a bike track. It’s only the bikers who are saying it’s a bike track on the line or nothing.

      It’s not the North Coast community’s fault that political parties nominate dodgy people, who, when elected refuse to provide the services the community needs-instead spending all our taxes on toll roads and highways in Sydney.

      The bus service from Byron to Lismore takes one hour and forty minutes (via Ballina!!) compared to the train trip of just fifty minutes!! That’s what the bikers want to impose on the North Coast community.

      Some pollies know more about bike tracks in New Zealand than they do about the transport needs of their own electorate.

      • Lousie It has been pointed out many times that on much of the corridor it is difficult and more expensive to build a rail trail beside the tracks. Why would you waste money preserving them? The state government is not going to fund what its advice tells it would be $900m to restore the rail to provide commuter services that are:
        • no safer than buses
        • would serve only a small number of people unable to drive, or afford a car – there are seven such households in Bangalow; 687 in Ballina
        • not cost effective. Rail is two or three times dearer per passenger than buses – the Elements train charges a $1 a km, which is similar to what the XPT cost. That would be around $500 return a week for your commute from the Bay to Lismore?
        The Blanches bus you refer to provides what the rail can never do – a commuter service targeted at the two busiest commuter routes in our area. Byron Bay to Ballina and Ballina to Lismore are each busier commuter routes than any route along the corridor – and it does not require passengers to change to a bus to get to key destinations like SCU or Lismore base hospital, which after you have waited for your two hourly train would require another wait and more time on the connecting bus. I note too, the new Blanches bus from Lismore to the Bay takes 55 minutes , and unlike the XPT leaves from the centre of town and stops at Bexhill, Clunes and Bangalow. The TrainLink coach is the replacement for the XPT and it takes 49 minutes, again from the heart of Lismore. And remember NRRAG is arguing for a light commuter service like the Elements train. Well that takes ten minutes for a pleasant three kms, so I hope you take a good book if it ever goes to Lismore! Heading to QLD? Why not take a shuttle like EasyBus which will get you from the Bay to Coolangatta as fast as the XPT took to Murbah (and I might add runs at similar levels of patronage as the Elements train).
        Can I remind you again that the rail trail has never been put forward as public transport; it is an investment in income generation for small service businesses and their employees along the line, and sustainable recreation aimed at walkers and cyclists (the word we use in Australia for what Americans call “bikers”).
        Finally I find your jibe at Tamara Smith most unkind. She is working hard to support real public transport in our area, is lobbying to improve the bus services, and today she took the new Blanches bus from Ballina to Lismore and back and posted on her Facebook site a video conversation with a passenger who will tell you why she has been using it to get from the Bay to SCU.

      • The bus service from Byron to Lismore takes one hour and forty minutes (via Ballina!!) compared to the train trip of just fifty minutes!!
        That was imposed by politicians not cyclists, and the people wanting to destroy the rail line are your fellow extremists from the other end of the spectrum. They too can be inclined towards exaggeration. When you have to fudge things to make your point, and you both do, it makes your point a bit suspect, and they both are. For yours, the return of trains depends on the integrity of politicians and from your comments you seem to agree with me, that have none.
        Of course bikes are not public transport that can replace trains. They are personal transport that can replace cars. Mine does and with a safe corridor through the shire they could for many more people, especially those unable or unwilling to drive. In addition light commuter rail coexists with cyclists and pedestrians quite happily in places like Melbourne.
        We can have it all but the ‘rail only’ and ‘trail only’ arguments will leave us with nothing.

    • Hi Robin,
      Blind Freddy can see that trains are not going to be funded on our poor Corridor.
      But not the train people, Oh no.. They’ll never see..
      So who’s “getting in the way” of activating our corridor for community use, and against eventual sale of the disused asset?
      Well it sure isn’t the NRRT.
      It’s the hopelessly hopeful train people.
      That’s who..

      • The NRRT advocate the totally unnecessary removal of the rails. You are the ‘trail only’ extremists also getting in the way. You guys are also yet to inform us who’s pocket the proceeds of a vast amount of valuable scrap metal are headed for.

        • I can understand why people who would liek a trian want to retain the rails but it is not economic and thee is no good reason to do so. The C-M rail trail study states: “In a majority of locations, the removal of track, sleepers and ballast material will be required, where a trail cannot be economically formed adjacent to the existing line and remain within the existing railway corridor boundary. Given the relative narrowness of the corridor along the majority of the route, there will only be select locations, such as the Byron Bay town centre where existing rails, sleepers and ballast can remain and a trail formed immediately adjacent.” In order to attract funding form government the NRRT must pay heed to the costs as well as the benefits of a rail trail. Although the study showed a positive economic benefit from the estimated spending. Already the rail group refer to the estimated cost of the trial as :expensive” or “over-priced” but then keep pushing to have a much more expensive and technically difficult rail beside trail solution, which would not provide the same good cost benefit to NSW and to our community outlined in the study.

          In respect of the rails the study states: ‘ Recovery of the rail and steel sleepers should be considered, subject to the economies of collection across the route. The scrap value of “cascade rail”, less the cost of retrieval, may provide a one off dividend that can be invested into the development of the rail trail’. As a government funded project any sale would be expected to be subject to NSW and Commonwealth governance and audit. It would be a straight forward tender for sale and there is absolutely no reason to suggest why it would be in any way corrupt or not transparent .

  6. If politicians thought they could get away with ripping up a valuable piece of public infrastructure to replace it with an expensive bike track, they would have done so years ago. But they know the community won’t tolerate it any more than they will tolerate destructive CSG mining.

    Politicians and the community know trains are the most cost effective, safe, sustainable way of providing the public transport the North Coast needs.

    Bike tracks are an important part of an integrated transport system, but they are not public transport, and without a train service there’s no integrated transport system.

    It’s only the bikers who are demanding that over $75m be spent ripping up the rails when a bike track could be provided along the train line, a win win for all.

    • I can understand why you argue for rail beside rail trail Louise, but as the rail trial group points out it is much more expensive and technically difficult in stretches like St Helena where the corridor is not flat and wide and even on flat wide sections such as the Elements train route there are additional costs such as fencing. So the problem is that no one is willing to pay the additional costs needed to retain the rail for some imagined future rail use beside the rail trail. The NSW Government recognizes the economic and recreational benefits to walkers and cyclists of funding a rail trail. But as the Government is not interested in using the rails why would it want to pay additional costs to keep them? The Byron Line concept proposed that tourist rail providers would contribute to the rail trail costs through the Shire – as they should as it is the train which creates a hazard for cyclists and walkers necessitating fencing and a separate path – however the Byron Shire failed to include further consideration of that in the feasibility study terms of reference (as well as consideration of how any tourist train will work with existing public transport). So if you want to have rail beside a rail trail in the Byron Shire ask the Byron Council why it is ignoring its own concept. .
      I will not address in detail your claims that a train in our area would be more cost effective, safe, or sustainable. Like your claims that it will relieve traffic or that the rail trail will lead to a sell-off, readers will know by now that you are not able to support your contentions. Endlessly repeating alternative truths does not make them true Louise.
      There is absolutely no comparison between anti CSG mining and the rail. You are trying to beat up the rail into a cause célèbre but in reality only a small number of people in our area would support a train that would cost fifty to a hundred dollars for a return journey between any of the main towns along the corridor, particularly when it is pointed out that it only serves a minority of older people and other transport dependent people in our area. Most people understand it is neither responsible nor equitable to try and force politicians to waste money on subsidising such expensive public transport for the very few transport dependent households that happened to be near the rail.

    • So no amount of facts are going to change your extremist ‘rail only’ message.
      We are cyclists not bikers and it’s the extremists like you from the ‘trail only’ NRRT who want to rip up the rails, not the rest of us. The vast majority of us want the best trail we can have and to retain the potential for rail but I wouldn’t be surprised if you conveniently ignored that. You have so far.
      Once again, of course bicycles are not public transport replacing trains but they are private transport replacing cars. Perhaps that reduction in emissions is irrelevant to you but I can assure you it’s not.
      If your crew and the NRRT moved away from your extremism perhaps we could get somewhere that’s good for all of us.

      • You may not be aware, or choose to ignore, that train supporters have ALWAYS SAID bike tracks are part of an intergrated public transport system and one can be provided along most of the C-M line without destroying the valuable line and depriving the community and five million tourists of much-needed public transport.

        Nothing extremist about that.

        Extremism is people who say that ‘trains are never coming back’ (while saying they want to rip up the lines to save the corridor for future trains) and want to deprive the whole community of sustainable public transport when we can have both.

        They also choose to ignore the thousands of people supporting the Byron train on such a short trip. This number will be dwarfed when trains are running ALONG THE WHOLE LINE, and on the extension to Coolangatta, reducing traffic congestion and toxic emissions.

        • Louise We appreciate that most train enthusiasts are not anti-cycle, but your suggestion that the rail trail can be built along is not the advice of the rail trial study. As I noted above it states “In a majority of locations, the removal of track, sleepers and ballast material will be required …” As always it is foolish to ignore well qualified advice.
          You suggest rail trail supporters ignore the popularity the Elements train, but its popularity with tourists is not a predictor for use of commuter rail services, any more than the popularity of school buses or the private bus shuttles that run at similar levels of occupancy as the Elements train are predictors of other public bus services in our region. The Elements train is targeted at tourists who are happy to pay a $1 a km for a slow and pleasant trip for a short distance to and from a tourist resort and precinct. It is less a means of getting to a destination as a destination itself, one that is part of why tourists drive and fly to the Bay.
          Perhaps enough tourists would pay the $20 – $30 for a relaxed return trip to Mullum, but how many commuters would? I remind you again the proponent of the Tramlink to Bangalow wrote: “However as for providing a regular passenger transport service it’s doubtful there would be sufficient passengers to sustain the operation. Fares would be astronomical and the government would not subsidise the service”. And why would any government be interested in spending billions to enable a train to the Gold Coast that would take as long just to get to Murbah as the shuttle buses do up the M1 to Coolangatta and would cost twice as much per passenger, and still leave passengers having to change to QLD trains to get beyond Robina?
          Let’s see what the Byron Line study comes up with, and let’s hope they go beyond their very limited TORs and consider not just how any tourist service can also serve locals, but how it will integrate with other public transport, and advise if it is likely to improve or be a detriment to public transport, particularly compared with spending any proposed funding on better bus services

          • **“In a majority of locations, the removal of track, sleepers and ballast material will be required **
            Absolute nonsense. It would be considerably less expensive to leave the rail in place and utilise it wherever needed when a trail alongside is difficult. The difference in economics is the vast amount of money to be made from the huge amount of scrap steel.
            Who is getting that money?
            I repeat, WHO IS GETTING THAT MONEY?

          • Robin Harrison questioned the advice of Arup as to the need to remove the rails and ballast to build the rail trail. I do not know her qualifications on rail trial construction, but I would prefer Arup’s opinion. I certainly fits with my experience with the corridor – it is easy to see over sections like St Helena that it would be difficult to have a parallel rail trail. The suggestion that the lines can be left there for future use flies in the face of Arup’s separate advice on the use of the corridor. To put in place a train – not a slow tourist service but one Capablanca of traveling form Lismore to the Bay as Robin examples in 50 minutes ( the same time as the coach takes) is estimated to cost $900m.

            Robin seems to suggest there would be something untoward about what would be a straight forward tender for sale, subject to State and Commonwealth audit. As I noted above the proposal of the rail trail study is that” the sale of the rails may provide a one off dividend that can be invested into the development of the rail trail”. As such the benefit plainly and properly goes to the community and to the highest bidder for the rails. If in the longer term rail comes down the Tweed Coast and through Yelgun to the Bay the entire rail would need to be rebuild, probably on QLD gauge, so even if it were possible there is no point leaving the existing track there unused.

  7. https://www.northernstar.com.au/news/bring-back-the-trains/2603428/
    The day senator Lee Rhiannon came to town with great fanfare is now almost 3 years ago . She came ,she flew and then vanished into thin air . A lovely few hours in a helicopter wobbling it’s way along the old Northern Rivers Railway corridor with video camera rolling and commentary from a pro slow train enthusiast.
    It is a shame that the accompanying passenger wasn’t a transport logistic engineer giving her advice . Anyway she left quietly and not a word has been heard of her since.

  8. The simple fact is trains are not returning to this corridor after 14 years. No government is going to go against the advice in the ARUP report and bring trains back on the C-M corridor. As Geoff Bensley mentinoe even the Greens came and had a look and realised brining trains back wasn’t going to happen otherwise it would be on their agenda. It really is time these nostalgic train groups such as TOOT and NRAAG woke up to the fact the trains aren’t coming back. If they were genuinely interested in providing better public transport in our region then maybe they could direct their energies into campaigning for better bus services that are much more flexible and can better serve those people who don’t live right next door to a train station.

    The rail trail is really the only card left on the table for the corridor. And yes that would mean that the rails have to be removed. A lot of bridges eg stokers siding, burringbar have had to be removed already so the line is far from intact. Just over the boarder the QLD government has committed another 4 million dollars to improve the Brisbane Valley Rail trail over the next few years as it has grown in popularity. A C-M rail trail would be hugely popular as an ecotourism attraction and wouldn’t be for the exclusive use for a handful of cyclists. Horse Riders, walkers and cyclists would use the trail.

    • I think you would also be surprised how many locals would use it for personal transport. Electric bike technology would thrive on those gentle grades and, on a lot of days in the year, would be faster than a car between Mullum and Byron.

  9. Good points Damon. I would note that the Greens have included in their five year infrastructure plan spending $50 million on extending the XPT service from Casino to Lismore. Even if their “fairly costed” was correct the value of that would be questionable. but it would be of more benefit than the idea of a commuter train down the line that some individual Greens support, but which is plainly too wasteful and pointless for even the Greens as a party to support.

    It is sad to read today (22/1/18) about the altercation between youths in Wollongbar on the weekend and then re-read rail buffs above writing piously about the public transport the North Coast needs. They harp on about what would amount to spending of two or three times the cost of buses to put slow and infrequent train on the corridor, when young people living on what is the busiest transport corridor in and out of Lismore have only a handful of buses on Saturday and none at all at night or on Sunday. The Greens transport policy too says nothing about those sorts of needs, but thankfully Tamara Smith has shown some pluck and is lobbying to improve them.

    • So we are poor little girlies who can’t do sums. Please feel free to work out the amount of high quality steel and the market price for it. Probably in excess of $10mill. Who’s getting the rest? You or have you just been convinced by those who will?

      • I am afraid I cannot understand your concern here. I have not mentioned any sum for the steel and nor does the rail trail study. I repeat it simply states: ‘Recovery of the rail and steel sleepers should be considered, subject to the economies of collection across the route. The scrap value of “cascade rail”, less the cost of retrieval, may provide a one off dividend that can be invested into the development of the rail trail’. If there is dividend of millions after the retrieval cost spent on the trail that would be great and a community benefit. Governments might of course prefer to take what could be a saving in overall outlays which would be a broader public benefit. . What exactly happens would be spelt out in the grant agreements, and subject to normal State and Commonwealth governance mechanisms, including record-keeping, audit and requirements to publish tender outcomes.

      • Robin I’m not asking ” poor little girlies who can’t do sums” to become civil engineers. However rail enthusiasts have yet to produce verifiable professional cost estimates. Your arguments overuse “probably” and previous rail employees or extrapolating The Elements 3 km over the 131 km track.
        There have been no applications to government for funding such as “Fixing Country Rail program ” from the rail supporters.
        I’m happy, anytime, to walk any 10km section of rail with train enthusiasts to see firsthand the infrastructure condition – come out and have a look for yourself
        ps: I caught the bus today from Ballina to Lismore and even with road works in Lismore it arrived on time – with pickups 40 minutes.


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