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February 3, 2023

Govt exploring light rail options for Tweed

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The Gold Coast light rail could be extended to Tweed City at a cost of almost half a billion dollars, according to state MP Geoff Provest. Photo www.flickr.com

Chris Dobney

The NSW Government is considering spending half a billion dollars to extend the Gold Coast light rail service 4.5km from Coolangatta to the Tweed City shopping mall.

The announcement, made by Tweed MP Geoff Provest (Nationals) yesterday, follows on from Tweed Council’s recent announcement to build a bike path over the Murwillumbah section of the old railway corridor, and reinforces the government’s determination to focus its public transport resources on high-growth coastal areas.

Mr Provest told Echonetdaily the project was still very much in the early planning stages, with the government appointing the consortium currently building the Gold Coast light rail to conduct a $2 million feasibility study on the construction of the line.

That would be followed by a more detailed engineering report, he said.

The Gold Coast light-rail is expected to take five to seven years to reach Coolangatta, via Gold Coast Airport, using sections the old Gold Coast railway corridor, ‘which had the tracks ripped up in 1964’, Mr Provest said.

‘It ticks a lot of good boxes; Tweed City have announced a $300 million upgrade and expansion; and it brings 21st century transport to the Tweed for the first time.

‘The road reserve to Tweed City is wide enough to accommodate the light rail.

‘I want to lock in something for the future, so it’s really important to clarify and lock away the route so that when it gets to the airport we’ve got the ability to bring it down into the Tweed,’ he said.

Mr Provest said the next study, which he’s hoping to get funding for, would look at the engineering challenges of the route.

‘In the middle of that route you’ve got Terranora Inlet and Boyds Bay Bridge, so that’s a potential difficulty.

‘But if I look at the success of the light rail in Main Beach and Broadbeach, and also the potential of the light rail in Sydney from George Street out to Randwick, it gives a tremendous economic lift to the local area.

‘Tweed has 20,000 new home sites coming on line in the next five to seven years, so that’s just over 40,000 new people on our roads and congestion.

‘So I think we should now really focus on public transport options for the next 10 years – its 21st century stuff.

‘We’ve got new hospitals, we’ve got new police stations – and they are really great things – but really we’ve made no advancement on public transport in this region and I think this is a really crucial step to identify that route and have it locked away – and then seek funding to actually do it,’ he said.

Mr Provest said that the state government would not be seeking co-funding from either the Gold Coast or Tweed councils towards the cost of the line, but added they were ‘important stakeholders that we have already begun consulting with’.

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  1. This sounds brilliant..

    This is where the huge cost of rail infrastructure will definitely payoff.
    I win for Geoff Provest, well done.

    And with no doubt, it will lead to an eventual rail extension from Tweed Heads to Ballina.
    Built in what, 20 years time?

    And the NR Rail Trail makes even more sense now.
    A magnetic tourist asset (including local retirees).

  2. What a great idea… [been identified for many years]. Now just to add extra tourism and economic benefit to the Northern Rivers, why not extend the Light rail to Byron Bay?
    We could all glory in a fast dependable transport system to the Gold Coast where major infrastructure is available?
    If Geoff Provest can swing this deal, he’s got my everlasting vote!

  3. The State Government’s current light rail project in CBD Sydney is not an advertisement for their credentials when it comes to light rail. It is a mess.

  4. Brilliant and about time. Rail caters for absolutely everyone, not just hobby cyclists and tourists. This is not meant to denigrate either cycling or tourism. It would be a seriously good thing for all future transport corridor connections to be sufficiently wide enough to provide both public transport and cycling options.

    • I am not sure why you would make a dichotomy between a rail service to Tweed Heads and cycling. I suppose you ate referring to the rail trail on the Murbah Mooball corridor, which is not connected to this line and is unlikely to ever be connected to it. The Tweed Shire transport strategy outlines that the primary future transport corridor will be down the coast and not through Murbah. As such there is no conflict between the current planned stage one of the rail trail and any longer term possible rail down into the Northern Rivers. I would also note that neither recreational walking and cycling paths or public transport are used by all. We expect our governments and councils to provide as best as they can to the recreational and transport needs of all people, not just the majority who drive cars and watch footy.

  5. This is the same Geoff Provest who campaigned on resuming rail services from Murwillumbah to Casino so don’t expect anything the century .
    1/2 a Billion for something that should be a lot less if they construct an over head mono rail all the way to Murwillumbah and down the beaches .

  6. QR City Train need to extend from Vasty Lakes on the ol’ right of way to Coolengatta Airport making full advantage of there new NGR Trains Brisbane Airport to Coolengatta Airport…

    Do away with the old alignment Byron Bay – Mullumbimby – Murwillumbah & build a newer straighter flood resistant alignment down the coast: Coolangatta – Tweed Heads – Ballina – Byron Bay & reopen Byron Bay – Lismore – Casino…

    While there at it, make the rail reserve corridoor alignment parcel of land to be acquired:~ Byron Bay – Ballina – Tweed Heada – Coolangatta wide enough to enable the future building of The AEC HSR Network to be built thru the area when the time comes that will eventually link:

    Cairns – Townsville – Mackay – Rockhampton – Gladstone – Bundaberg – Brisbane Airport – Brisbane Roma St. Stn – Coolengatta – Tweed Heads – Ballina – Byron Bay – Coffs Harbour – Port Macquire – Williamstwon Airport Newcastle – Sydney – Canberra – Wagga Wagga – Albury – Shepparton & Melbourne.

  7. Why would the NSW consider spending $500 million for a railway for just 4.5 kilometres to a shopping centre when it would not spend $960 million for 131 kilometres to a country town and the whole NSW railway network.
    Why does the NSW Government put out press releases like this that have no intention of coming to fruition but are just for political purposes of publicity with no substance?
    When the NSW government “considers” it means there is no money backing up up the proposal and it is for political purposes.
    “Mr Provest told Echonetdaily the project was still very much in the early planning stages, …”

    • The reason is Tweed Heads is at one end of a large three million city, and it has a growing population, which is larger than the population living within the 400vmetres – the minimum considered necessary to support commuter rail – of the C-M corridor. The corridor population is only growing slowly and there is strong resistance to any substantial development in the areas near the corridor, especially in the Byron Shire. This is reflected in the 2036 NR regional plan, which predicts low population growth away from the coastal areas of the Tweed and Ballina Shire and limited transport movement along the rail corridor and which consequently does not include a rail service on the corridor in its plans for transport. The corridor population is also younger and shows little interest in using public transport to get around. Eschewing Gold Coast style denser development has retained the ecological and lifestyle values of our area, making our properties more valuable than equivalent properties in QLD, but it means we do not have, and are unlikely to have anything like the population needed to support light rail. This is not a great problem though as good bus services are able to do anything a light rail can on our relatively un-congested roads, and coaches can connect us easily and economically to the NSW rail network.

  8. I seem to recall Mr. Provest also promising to put real trains back on the tracks between Casino & Murwillumbah.
    That really went well. Spent a bit of money on thinking about it and then wiped the idea. Needed the money for new rail lines, new tunnels, new freeways [ and now new stadiums] in Sydney.

  9. Yes EXACTLY Jim Dwyer


    Instead we get our rail line dismantled for some shitty BIKE TRAIL FFS!!!


    We need to be rid of both the state & federal governments & abolish the 2 party voting system. Give us a transport network system NOW!!!

    • You are right that we need a network of public transport in our Region Tina. However a train will not provide a network , it would only service one thread of that net, and even those living along the corridor, would need to change to buses to get to most of the target destinations which since the fifties have been built away form the line. None of the hospitals or campuses for example is anywhere near the rail line. Apart form the hundreds of millions needed to restore the rail, the running costs of rail are two or three times buses. For the same money you could provide a true network with at least hourly buses running along all our main corridors, including those in and out of Ballina and Tweed Heads where the largest population of older residents and those without a car live.

      In the ACT the Hare Clarke system ensures the Greens have one or two members and in coalition with the ALP they currently have one Minister. They used their power to force a similar major shift in transport spending away from rapid buses for the lower income outer suburbs to a light rail that will serve some of the highest income households in Australia in the inner suburbs – the Greens’ heartland (where the Chief Minister lives and the Greens Minister owns two houses that will benefit from the light rail). Similarly in our area the Greens are happy to shift the bulk of transport finding in our region away from that older transport dependent population in places like Ballina and the coastal part of the Tweed to the younger car owning population along the rail corridor who are much less likely currently to use public transport.

      The major parties have to govern for all Australians including the less politically articulate elderly residents; the Greens purport to serve the needy but when they are in positions to influence spending it almost invariably benefits their younger middle class supporters. By contrast the rail trail will be accessible to a wide range of users who will need only a bike or a pair of shoes, and the experience elsewhere shows, because it is flat and away form traffic it will be used by a wide range of age groups, and by people of with a wide range of abilities. .


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