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Byron Shire
March 3, 2021

Catching the train

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Beth Shelley, Booerie Creek

I remember catching the Gold Coast Motorail in the late 1980s to enjoy a day at the beach and a rest from the craziness of life. Looking out through the big window I felt amazed by the peace and beauty of the countryside between Lismore and Byron. It was an absolute delight for the soul. No stress of driving, no damaged roads and giant trucks. Just peace and feeling safe. Local people tell me how they used to feel safe putting their teenagers on the train to go to the beach for the day.

In all the years since our rail service was closed there has been no community consultation to find out what people want. An article in the Tenterfield Star states last December a community consultation was held in Tenterfield by NSW Department of Premier & Cabinet (DPC).

DPC executive director Chris Hanger explained to those at the community meeting that the onus for managing and maintaining rail trails once a rail corridor is closed generally falls to the local council.’ Then Tenterfield Council ‘voted in favour of maintaining the current rail infrastructure for its future tourism potential’.

Our population has grown considerably and tourist numbers are now second only to Sydney. Tenterfield has 4,000 people. How does this make sense?

I grew up in Sydney but it’s wonderful now that I live surrounded by natural beauty in my own piece of heaven. I’d love to be able to share that with everyone by having trains carrying us safely and peacefully through this stunningly beautiful area. Have your say by coming to a rally for rail on December 8, 10am at the Lismore Quad.

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  1. It is long way out but yes December 8, 2019 I can make it . A bit more deterioration , a bit more lantana and a few more fat termites .

  2. Beth
    You have a fine talent for writing but I hope will take it in the right spirit if I suggest your chosen genre should be historical fiction. It’s not that a train trip through our area was not as enjoyable as you describe, but for many of us who grew up here in the sixties, it meant of hours of waiting for and traveling on the train and its connecting buses. That is the reality of using “spine” train services in lower density areas. Because they are expensive and operators need to maintain patronage on what are larger units, instead of buses targeted at where people live and go where they need to go, you have less frequent services, longer trips and more waiting.

    Greens candidate for the Tweed and train activist Bill Fenelon is now on Facebook (14 12 18) proposing passengers travel from Pottsville to the Mooball to catch a “spine” train. To get to Tweed Heads they will wait for the connecting bus, wait for train, and then wait and catch the bus from Murbah (unless he can find the billion dollar cost of a rail to the border that would not even connect to the QLD gauge). Do not imagine direct buses could be retained or that there would even be money for timely connecting buses. In the ACT – thanks to the Greens – the high cost of light rail is being paid for by higher rates and cutting direct school and public bus services. In spite of widespread objections from parents, public transport users and disability advocates, bus travelers who had enjoyed single seat journeys are now forced to wait and change to the light rail “spine”.

    Rural trains mean longer disrupted trips and offer no environmental or safety advantages. Indeed the other reason parents here lobbied successfully to dump the school train in the Byron Shire, and that many women and other vulnerable people will not use trains at night, was and remains security concerns in the carriages.

    The Byron Line feasibility if done well should tell us if there is any interest in funding tourist rail services in the Byron Shire, but beyond that there is no good point in considering putting rail back on the Northern Rivers line.


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