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Byron Shire
February 3, 2023

Victoria’s positive experience of rail trails

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Marianne Melnikas, Banora Point.

I am writing in reply to a letter published entitled Rail trail has no social licence, published on March 5th 2018.

The rail trail will indeed bring in tourists who do nothing but chase down and travel along all the rails trails across this country.

Back on May 16th 2004 the last train ran, the service was stopped by the Carr Government due to lack of support and the skyrocketing costs of keeping the service running.

Those who want a functional railway running between Casino and Murwillumbah will need to think deeply about the associated costs that would be involved in reinstating such a service, including the number of people using it. The costs of providing such a service to the community should be recouped by the bums on seats, usage.

The rail trail will provide financial benefits to all the places along the trail, the upkeep would be minimal with benefits outweighing any costs.

Looking at the Victorian story many places were in the same mind, we want our trains back, which did not happen. They are now quite happy with the rail trail as it has had the flow on effect of more employment opportunities in local communities and opened up doors for new and evolving business.

In far flung areas having all this going on it such a boost and plus.

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  1. Marianne,
    Have you climbed MT Warning? Mt Warning is in the same tourist market as a Rail Trail.
    Mt Warning is used as a tourist magnet to attract tourists here so just how will a Rail Train increase tourist numbers over MT Warning?
    The tourists who will go on the Rail Trail will be those already here to climb Mt Warning, and they spend their money here anyway. So at most we could have an increase in tourism of about 1 percent, Maybe that could bring in about $950 in the first 12 months of operation. Spread that amount of money among the ratepayers of Tweed Shire of 95,000 and we are rolling in wealth.

    • To turn that around, the rail trail might attract walkers and cyclists who would add on a climb of Mt Warning. The estimated 88.000 who are expected to use our rail trail when it is completed is based on the number of visitors who come primarily to use trails of comparable length in Victoria. With our attractive scenery and climate, and our proximity to the three million people of S.E.QLD, there is little reason to doubt the trail here will be popular. The estimated spending of those visitors provides a positive return on the investment and recurrent cost, providing jobs for people in small communities and towns along the line. You are concerned about ratepayers int the Tweed but happy for all of us in NSW to waste $750,000 a year to maintain an unused rail corridor in case Mayor Milne can find a use for it. Thanks to a coalition with the Greens, ACT households will pay hundreds more a year in rates for a light rail service that does nothing the buses are not already doing. Ratepayers int he Tweed should be wary of Mayor Milne’s plan to spend rates to keep rails on the corridor. The only reason to keep the rails is for a train, and they may well find they too are paying hundreds more a year – or having cuts to repairs to roads that she apparently dislikes – just to subsidise a train service that few ratepayers will ever use.

    • The NSW government funded thousands of new bus services around NSW – we got two. Why? Because those who should be lobbying for better public transport waste their effort trying to shift the bulk of transport spending away from the areas where people need and use public transport, to fund an expensive and infrequent rail service that would largely serve the younger population that lives along the corridor, a population that far from being desperate, shows little interest in using the existing bus services. Even when you look at towns along the corridor, the largest movements in and out of the Lismore and the Bay are not along the corridor but to Ballina; in the case of Murbah the number who travel along the rail corridor is a fraction of the number traveling to Tweed Heads, and less than the number who travel to and from the Tweed Coast and Tweed Heads . Many do want to travel to QLD but even if we spent the billions needed to restore it and connect it to QLD’s rail you would still need to change to a QLD gauge train to get to Brisbane. You can do it now on one bus seamlessly and faster to Brisbane and its airport at a fraction of the cost of a rail service. We need transport indeed, but it needs to serve transport dependent people and their need to be able to travel where they need to go , where they want to go, and to meet their social needs where their peers with cars are driving to. In our area those transport dependent people are more likely to live away for the rail line and they are most likely to go to to destinations built along roads and not the rail. Too many people are mesmerized by two long lengths of steel; better start focusing instead on people. .

  2. Rail trails have revitalised regional areas not only in parts of Australia (most notably Victoria) but also in New Zealand where they generate millions of dollars each year, and at hundreds of locations in the USA and Canada.

    Regional NSW needs to take its collective head out of the sand and get behind these incredibly positive proposals. Either that of follow the current strategy of withering on the vine.

  3. I grew up in North East Victoria, now home to the High Country Rail Trail & the Murray to Mountains Rail Trails. The line the High Country Rail Trail follows crossed our driveway & went past our front door. I visited the area last year for a family reunion & was taken for a walk on this trail by one of my nieces. The small town of Tallangatta where I had nursed for several years was so much more lively, new shops, cafes, B&B’s, businesses directly related to the Rail Trail. I couldn’t believe the change. Along the Trail were lovely picnic spots with stunning chairs/tables all made by the High School youth of the area. Other areas of well maintained native gardens, all done & maintained by the various primary schools. All the history along the track recorded on notice boards. The mid week day my niece & I walked the trail had lots of people on it, cyclists, mum’s jogging with prams, mum’s walking with prams, older walkers, two guys in wheelchairs & this was outside school holiday time. I now lived in the Tweed Valley for 30 years plus & I urge the people of Tweed to get behind our Rail Trail, just like the communities down in Victoria have. I saw economic change it has made to the area down there, it has been fantastic. My family & friends that still live down there love their trails. They have wonderful community events involving the trail all through the year. I can’t wait till ours is finished.


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