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Byron Shire
March 3, 2021

Light rail and more buses for Tweed

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With a continued focus on public transport, the Nationals have made two recent announcements about light rail, and bus services.

One announcement says a light rail line connecting Tweed Heads to Coolangatta Airport is a step closer with strategic planning for the project to be funded under a NSW Liberals and Nationals Government.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said providing $1 million for strategic planning is the next step for the long awaited project, which will improve transport links between the twin towns of Tweed and Coolangatta.

‘There are some 30,000 trips made every day between Tweed and Coolangatta and most of these are made by car,’ said Mr Constance said.

‘We know light rail would be game-changing for the area and it should not miss out on it because there is a state border between the towns.’

The next step towards the project follows a recently completed feasibility study.

‘The study identified two route options – one from the Airport to North Tweed, the other from the Airport to South Tweed,’ he said.

‘Both routes would link the two centres and potentially further north with Gold Coast City Council planning to extend its light rail line to Burleigh and Coolangatta Airport in the future.’

The second announcement is that the Tweed community will get access to more bus services for longer periods of the day.

Mr Constance said the boost in services was part of the NSW Government’s new regional growth buses program.

‘We are serious about improving public transport services and making them even more accessible across rural and regional NSW communities,’ he said.

‘Labor completely neglected rural and regional transport. Since 2011 our Government has delivered 1,462 new rural and regional buses, nearly half are air-conditioned seatbelt equipped buses and we’ll deliver more services in the bush.

‘The Tweed community will enjoy more than 300 additional weekly bus services, with extended hours and a focus on delivering better connections to local TAFEs, hospitals and better cross-border connections.’

Member for Tweed Geoff Provest welcomed the commitment to improve services for his local community.

‘My community will get direct links to between Murwillumbah and Kingscliff TAFEs and the new hospital from new bus routes, extended hours between 5am and 9pm to existing services and providing better connections to our neighbouring state,’ he said.

 

Other service improvements include:

•      Double frequency between Kingscliff and Tweed Heads West, via Tweed Mall, on route 601 on weekdays

•      A new route 600 will be introduced to link Banora Point to Tweed Mall and the Qld border

•      A new direct route 609 to link Murwillumbah and Kingscliff – 5 trips weekday only

•      Additional late afternoon and evening services on routes 600 and 601 on weekdays and Saturdays.

The additional services are expected to be introduced by the end of the year.


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6 COMMENTS

  1. One of the Greens key signature policies is an integrated public transport system which gets cars off roads and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. One of Greens candidate for Tweed Bill Fenelon’s key signature policies is the inclusion of trains and cycleways in an integrated public transport network. Bill’s policy is not for trains to stop at Tweed Heads but for the train services the Labor Party stopped in 2004 to be returned and connected to the Gold Coast.

    Bringing light rail from Coolangatta to Tweed Heads sounds more like a plan to bring the Gold Coast south of the border, not one which revitalises the Northern Rivers. If the National Party is committed to getting cars off the road and promoting light rail, why have their National Party-aligned Councillors voted to rip up the train tracks between Murwillumbah and Casino in favour of a cycleway? Why won’t they consider an off-track rail trail so that the community can benefit from both trains and cycleways?

    Geoff Provest, if you are serious about light rail, you would be connecting light rail from Tweed Heads to the existing train tracks at Murwillumbah and re-introducing train services across the Northern Rivers.

    • The reason we do not have the Gold Coast light rail in our region is we do not have the Gold Coast’s population. The train that was closed in 2004 cannot connect to the Gold Coast without billions being spent to restore the line, connect it to the slow street level light rail network in Tweed Heads and put ugly overhead wires down the line. It would not connect us to Brisbane or its airport which are on QLD gauge.

      The Nationals are funding a community path – a rail trial – along the corridor because they have correctly concluded that rail will not meet the community’s transport needs. With the number of public and community transport dependent households falling along the rail corridor and growing along the coastal parts of the Tweed and Ballina Shires, and knowing all of the aged care homes, campuses, hospitals and health precincts are away from the line, investment in better buses makes far more sense . That is reflected in bus usage, with the regular day and night Tweed Coast bus service carrying over 200,000 passengers a year while buses along the rial corridor routes are among the least patronised in our region. The professional advice in the rail trail study and the Tweed stage one design is for an on-formation path, and that advice has been accepted by the Council’s engineers and included in he Expression of Int erst documentation. The bids will show if anyone can produce a conforming bid to build it off-formation.

      Fenelon’s signature policy – an “integrated public transport” would return us to the days when kids and others who do not drive would face long journeys waiting and changing from buses ot trains. I
      Rail is enormously expensive and it can only be funded by cutting school and other services and not funding a network of regular buses like that on the Tweed Coast , an inequitable shift of funding form the elderly and kids to the relatively small numebr of people along the corridor who have any interest in using public transport. In the ACT the Green/Labor governemnt is cutting commuter and school bus services , as well as putting up rates across the city by hundreds of dollars a household, in order to fund its light rail.

      Since trains can only run a few kms off the grid , restoring rail would lock us into a high emission dirty diesel-electric for the foreseeable future instead of electric buses that can run 450km on 100% renewable power . Voters who want sustainable road transport , who do not want their kids and elderly to have their buses slashed, who want our roads properly funded , and who support better cycle infrastructure should give the Greens and their wasteful dirty diesel train a miss next month.

  2. We want our trains back in northern nsw. Just a light rail train will do but don’t pull the rail tracks for bikes!!! Every other state has a bike track along side of the train. Why are you not looking at that to please everyone? What other ideas have you got in mind eh? People know you want to sell the corridor. We are sick of your lies.

    • Mary, most rail trials are built on-formation. The advice to do ir off formation for the Northern Rivers Rail Trail has not come form government but frmo the feasibility and design consultants. The Northern Rivers Rail Trail Study advised:

      ” 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 certain locations, typically where the formation or corridor width allows, it may be possible to form the trail adjacent to the rail, allowing for existing rail sections to remain in place as a reminder of the origins of the rail corridor.”

      The design for stage one is also for a trail largely on-formation, and that was accepted by Council engineers. It has been left open for a shortlisted bidder to provide a conforming bid for off-formation.

      Rail trials in Victoria and QLD have been extended and continue to row in popularity. Regional Development Victoria estimated the Wangarratta rail trial- which is being extended yet again – will be used by 100,000 cyclists this year rising to 250,000 a year over five years. The notion that any one wanting to buy the corridor would propose a use that will tie it up with anything like those numbers of visitors for the foreseeable future is patently absurd. Indeed supporters of NSW Farmers’ bid to have the New England corridor passed to farmers oppose the rail trail there , because they know it will block their land grab.

      There is no evidence that people in the Northern Rivers are willing to have new and planned school and other bus services cut or have rates increased by hundreds of dollars, as is happening in the ACT, to fund a train. Once people realise the rail does not serve most elderly, indigenous and other households dependent on public transport they understand the need to invest in better road-based public transport. At the candidates meeting in Knockrow fixing the roads was a consistent message, and there is again no appetite to shift funding for roads and road-based public transport into fixing up the Northern Rivers rail.

  3. An interesting post on Facebook-“Part 2
    Overland through Chinderah following Pacific Highway alignment with proposed stations at Chinderah Interchange, Bogangar Interchange and Pottsville Interchange and merging with the existing railway at Yelgun.
    Note:
    This alignment would be the most achievable as a corridor along the freeway would only require incremental widening of existing property resumptions. A new corridor would fragment many currently unaffected properties and create a barrier across the Tweed landscape that would adversely impact on the social amenity of the area and the environment.
    https://www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/Download.aspx?Path=~/Documents/Community/Transportation/TSC01557_Public_Transport_Strategy_Report.pdf
    This statement is from the Tweed Shire Transport Strategy .

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