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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

Solar train sees impressive passenger numbers

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Locals question placing homes in areas of inundation risk

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Byron Bay Railroad Company Development director Jeremy Holmes takes a ride on the Shire’s latest transport. Photo Jeff ‘Trains, Planes and Automobiles’ Dawson

The Byron Bay Railroad Company says it has clocked up its 10,000th passenger in just 19 days of operation.

Development director Jeremy Holmes said, ‘We anticipated a slower start, even when factoring in summer trading.’.

The reaction from passengers has been ‘so uplifting’ according to Holmes. ‘It makes it all worthwhile to see the look on the faces of passengers, particularly the children,’ he said. ‘And to see locals using the train to get from A to B is seriously rewarding for our team’.

The train runs between the North Beach platform at the end of Bayshore Drive, and the Byron Beach platform in town, behind Simmos Caltex Service Station. The service runs  from 10am till 5pm daily, excluding Sundays. This timetable is set to expand, say organisers, ‘when the remaining new drivers and passenger attendants receive their accreditation.’

For more information visit www.byronbaytrain.com.au.

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  1. yeh !!..cant wait for the train to come all the way to Mullumbimby …what a joy that will be to ride by train into Byron instead of sitting in that cue or traffic..

  2. This is a train built for a purpose. Why would a train go all the way to Mullumbimby? It’d be under utilised and cost a fortune.

    See Northern Star Saturday 13/01/18 regarding lightly used bus service between Lismore and Byron.

    The population within this region is not dense enough to support rail. You would need a bank loan to afford tickets.

    Bring on the Rail Trail, something that will attract international visitors to the whole Northern Rivers region, showcasing our larger towns and some of the smaller villages. You could enjoy a walk or bike ride between Byron and Mullum.

  3. I’m with you, Len! It’s really not that far at all from Byron to Mullum. Would be great to be able to leave the car at home – my weekends would be much more relaxing!

  4. While trying to see any use for a bike track along the C/M line that is going to benefit anyone except a few developers. It is easy to get sucked in by Tim Oshanasy’s spin that all will be well with a bike trail in place. Nothing could be further from the truth. The population here needs trains, the tourists need trains, Gladys needs to get out of macquarie St & come & have a look at the situation here & sign off on a restoration of the C/M section of the track, not follow the bullshit cost estimate that was signed off a few years ago.. Richard

    • bulldog, you do realise rail trails have proven successful all over the world. This isn’t just some pie in the sky idea, they work.

      Kick and scream all you want, but trains are not coming back.

    • It is difficult to understand your first point. Why would a developer who wanted to get their hands on the line support a rail trail that will tie it up for the foreseeable future, and have it protected from a sell-off by the legislative arrangements that the Greens and Labor agreed to from any sell-off without further reference to the parliament? And which part of the population needs trains? The Arup corridor study noted by contrast with large cities where cost and parking drive public transport use: “…, a primary reason customers need public transport in the Northern Rivers is because they don’t have access to a car. These customers are mostly the dependent population; aged 65 and over, or under 18. ” Most of those people live away from the line, including 75% of households without a car. The Arup report noted only 1279 people in 2011 used the bus from Lismore to Byron Bay, compared with 64,000 from Ballina to Lismore and 192,000 on the Pottsville Tweed Heads route. Unlike the younger car owning people along the corridor, our Premier is not too proud to catch a bus from Macquarie Street, and if you and others had not wasted efforts lobbying for a train she might have delivered some of the 3,300 new bus services in the budget and several thousand more later in the year , to those in our area who really do need and appreciate public transport.

  5. Enjoy The Solar Train while you can folks it may not run for much longer. The Belongil Action Group Association want their day in court to shut down Byron’s Solar Train. The next court appearance is set for February 23. In the meantime ride the rails on Byron’s solar spectacular, yes.

  6. There is a great case to be made for train service between Byron and Mullum. Its flat, the track and stations are already there and there is demand. Many if not most tourists in Byron would take the train to visit mullum especially a solar powered heritage version. How many business would benefit in Mullum, how many new business could begin? A lot. Or ramp up the train speed and service for locals, it would be a winner. We know there is an increasing amount of people who work in Byron and live in Mullum due to more affordable housing.

    The train should be a catalyst to increase housing in Mullum and surrounds where it is suitable (ie not a swamp!) and cancel the monstrosity that is West Byron. Service Byron with a 10 minute train trip from mullum bypassing all tourist traffic problems and avoid the need to create a 4 lane motorway and West Byron. A smart country would do this!!

    BTW, the state liberals can find $2,500 million to knock down and rebuilt two stadiums in Sydney to benefit their mates. Could they not find $10m – 15m to reinstate the Mullum train line and improve the local economy in many ways? They will say no due to a deeply flawed cost benefit analysis. They are a joke.

    • You refer to a “deeply flawed cost benefit analysis” as the reason the government will not fund the restoration of the rail. It was done by Arup, a rail consultancy firm of international repute – the lead consultant for the Gold Coast light rail and I cannot find any flaws in its the terms of reference. We are told an engineer has suggested a lower cost is possible, but no rail buff has pointed me to any analysis of the Arup costings or a alternative costing that is published or subject to peer review. – in other words its just talk. I note here that the Greens have allocated $50m for the Casino Lismore part of the line, much more than your figure per km for a part of the line in better shape than other sections. However their transport spokesperson, Mehreen Faruki does not appear to be able to provide any explanation of how they arrived at what they say is “fairly costed”.

      The reality is commuter rail is expensive and needs much larger populations than we have – the lowest estimate I have read for commuter rail to be viable – by light rail enthusiast Ginn – is 250,000 within walking distance of stations – others such as Monash University Institute of Transport Studies suggest at least double that. Some places like Canberra have propped up the poor cost benefit of its planned light rail by counting in the “city building” development that they plan along the line (pushing up the price of the Chief Minister and the Greens Sustainable Transport Minsiter’s houses, and the latter’s negatively geared rental property) . It is difficult to imagine the burgers of Mullum or other places along the line would be interested in allowing high density housing to be built just to have the population at Gold Coast levels needed to support commuter rail. .

  7. The Elements train deserves the good response it has gotten from the tourists that enjoy its short trip – it is a beautifully restored train. Train buffs are trying to use these largely tourist numbers to argue for public-subsided commuter rail along the line. They ignore that the shuttle bus services to the airports and to Brisbane run at similar good levels of patronage, and do so much more cheaply than rail ever did or would over those distances. They argue for services like the Elements train should be extended along the corridor. Putting aside the technical limitations of the solar train and the time it would take on such a slow train, it is difficult to imagine many commuters would be willing to pay the $50 to $100 it would cost to carry a passenger to and from the main towns on the line. They imagine the government will provide the cheap subsidised rail fares of the past but do not stop to ask why limited public transport funds should be supporting what are essentially very expensive tourist services.

  8. During that same 19 day period the new roundabout on Ewingsdale Rd received 30,000 vehicle movements per day for a total of 570,000. Each vehicle had an average of 1.4 passengers for a total of 798,000 movements . It was great to see the train removing 10,000 people or 7142 cars during that 19 day period or 375 cars per day from Ewingsdale Rd.
    Now we just need trains every 15 minutes and that would remove 1500 cars per day but it is a single track line so can only run a maximum of 1/2 trains .
    For music festivals a train system is required to move say 10,000 people per hour so it would require 400 seat trains running every 5 minutes in both directions.
    A twin track electrified train system that has a maximum speed of 160kmh for the majority of its route is required .
    Or we use a 100 seat tourist train on a single track train system that can only remove a maximum of 100 pax per hour ?

    • Good points Geoff. In reality it would not have removed even 375 cars a day from Ewingsdale road. Apart from those staying near Elements or near the centre of the Bay most users would drive to near one the stations, and some would be adding to the traffic issues at the intersection of Ewingsdale and Bayswater. I understand they will remove one or two of the seats to accommodate bikes better -I found there was little room for them. As most infrastructure and provision for cycles does, that would help reduce traffic to and from the train and would make for a good train one way / pedal the other experience, though the bike paths out there do need better signposting.


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