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March 8, 2021

NRRAG concerned over Lismore railway land sale

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Railway land – Lismore. Photo supplied.

Railways and their surrounds continue to be a contentious issue across the Northern Rivers and the possible sale of railway land in Lismore has raised local opposition.

Members of Northern Rivers Railway Action Group (NRRAG) say they were shocked to see that railway land adjacent to the railway lines near Lismore Station have been offered for sale under an online auction process being held over a very short three days from May 6 to 8.

They say this is being done with no ability to see who may be buying these properties which include buildings/sheds and land.

NRRAG questions the legality of sale of one of the sites, falling within the required 15 metre protection zone as requisite rail corridor beside the rail lines, as well as two buildings being heritage listed!

‘Concerns are great that if a “rail trail bill” should go before NSW parliament and be passed, that the current protection (Transport Administration Act 1988, section 99A) will be lost, as it reverts to Crown land status,’ says spokesperson Lydia Kindred. ‘Such land will then be open to sale and development, which many people in our region do not want and demand be protected, for this valuable railway infrastructure and important publicly owned asset.’

Railway land – Lismore. Photo supplied.

NRRAG says that there has been no community consultation to ascertain if the majority of citizens want a ‘rail trail’ to take the place of the current railway lines as we believe this is a statutory requirement before any major changes to legislation occur. ‘Through our research we have ascertained that a large majority of the community and local businesses want the return of rail services to our Northern Rivers region and that the cost would not be prohibitive.

‘The community demands adequate public consultation before any application for changes to the current protective legislation are offered to the NSW Parliament’.

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  1. “Through our research we have ascertained that a large majority of the community and local businesses want the return of rail services to our Northern Rivers region and that the cost would not be prohibitive.”

    Details please??

  2. Federal Shadow Minister for Infrasructure, Anthony Albanese (ALP), has promised $1 billion to buy land for a Fast Train service corridor, which his office says if built would stop at Casino en route to the Gold Coast.

    He’s also promised $17m to destroy the Casino to Murwillumbah line (to replace it with a bike track!) which would connect Northern Rivers locals and millions of tourists to the Fast Train at Casino.

    This saga gets crazier by the minute.

    • Mr Albanese did not make a promise to build a “bike track”. The funding is for a rail trial which can be used by cyclist, walkers, runners, mobility transport and subject to bio-security clearance, horses and pets.
      When the Tweed Council agreed to stage one of the rail trail, rail proponent and engineer Tom Raynor advised that a trail could be built off-formation – beside the path – at less cost, the Council agreed to allow bids for off-formation construction, and NRRAG and other train supporters have been confidently telling since that is the way to go. If they are correct and a conforming winning bid is put in for the Tweed stage off-formation, than why is there any need for concern that the tracks will be removed? Could it be that NRRAG and its supporters do not believe their own propaganda! And I wonder how Ms Kindred can comment on the rail trail bill when it yet to be made available to the public, or comment that “…that the cost would not be prohibitive.” when they refuse to make their “research” available to public scrutiny. Nor do we know what the local businesses were told about the possible rail service they apparently support; were they told that business and households like mine in Canberra have had their rates go up by hundreds of dollars a year to fund the $700m cost of a 13km light rail service?

      Their repeated assertion that the community does not support the rail trail was also shown to be nonsense by the most decisive community consultation of all: the NSW election. Only one party had a policy of putting trains back on rural NSW lines. The overwhelming majority of NSW voters – and it is they who own the corridor – and the majority of voters in our area did not consider a train enough of a priority to vote for the Greens. Overwhelmingly they supported the two major parties, which both unequivocally supported the rail trail. At election fora roads were constantly raised not rails. Only in the Byron Shire was their support for the Greens and the idea of rail and we will see if ratepayers or some investor is prepared to fund their rail dreams.

      There is no doubt the Northern Rivers rail dream is the most sustainable transport dream of all: sustained by a blindness to the demographics of our area and its transport needs; a refusal to accept the wishes of the people of NSW and our region; secrecy around their own “research”; and sustained by misrepresentations of the purpose of the rail trail, unevidenced innuendo about the Government’s intention in building it, a lack of understanding about its construction, and speculation about its legislative framework.

  3. Albo also said that Lismore would be a ‘likely’ stop for the fast train.
    Figure all that out.
    Meanwhile the Nasty Govt in Sydney is selling off the railway land in several places.
    Their motto appears to be:
    “Sell it off or knock it down, then sell it to developers.”
    Who voted for them?

  4. I think there are many other reasons people did not vote for the Greens. To single out that the rail policy supported by only the Greens did not attract votes is a real stretch and unrealistic. The major parties supported the rail trail only because they thought it would attract the most votes. I do not think they intend to do anything in regards to the rail trail or returning the trains IMO.

    • The National Party lost two seats it had held for many decades-Ballina and Lismore-after campaiging to rip up the $4 billion Casino to Murwillumbah rail line to replace it with a very expensive bike track.

      Apart from the initial media event, Kevin Hogan, MP for Page, has not mentioned the Nationals’ $6.5m funding to rip up the rail line for a bike track, as he knows there’s little community support for it and he will most likely lose his seat as well.

      We need trains on the C-M line to reconnect the major Northern Rivers population centers and connect up to the VFT (should ever be built) and Coolangatta Airport.

      With a bit of work the C-M corridor may be the best and most cost effective corridor for the VFT to Coolangatta. Certainly easier and cheaper than building a rail corridor through the mountains behind the Gold Coast.

      • Regardless of many times people claim community support for ripping up a $4 billion rail line for a very expensive bike track, the reality is that pollies know the community does not support for this massive vandalism. The community is well aware they have been lied to about a bike track saving the corridor. They know removal of the legislation which currently protects the line will allow the state government to sell the valuable rail land to the white shoe brigade, who are polishing up their shoes in anticipation.

        The media event of Kevin Hogan MP’s announcement of $6.5 funding for a bike track says it all. Only two cyclists turned up. But despite very short notice, dozens of train supporters managed to attend, representing the outrage in the community about this dodgy project and the proposed wicked waste of taxpayer’s money.

        The ALP candidate has not said a word about their proposed funding for the expensive bike track-they also know there’s no community support and no votes in destroying the line for a bike track.


        • It remains Louise that the NSW government has no intention to bring back rail. The rail trial is not the cause of that, but rather it is a popular proposal to utilise the otherwise unused parts of the corridor, and one that both major parties have judged worthwhile publicly supporting at both state and federal levels.
          Her support for the rail trail helped win Lismore for Janelle Saffin; let’s see what happens on Saturday.

    • I agree the rail or the rail trail were probably not the highest priority for most voters. Indeed if spending money to put trains back on the line was a priority for people they could have voted for the Greens. The community was consulted, and even if they liked the idea of a train, they thought other things like roads were a higher priority to spend money on. The major parties supported the rail trail because it is an attractive policy with a likely positive outcome; they would be aware from Ballina and Tweed shires that good walking and cycling infrastructure are popular and well used; and they were also aware that community members had contributed $60,000 in crowd funding towards it. So of course they expected it would attract votes. Again the community was consulted and they apparently were happy to support the parties that unequivocally supported the rail trail.

      You are quite correct neither party will do anything about trains; if they did a rail trail along the length of the line would not be an option. The NSW and Commonwealth have agreed to fund stage one of the rail trail and it is being contracted, there is no indication that the two major parties will renege on their promised Commonwealth spending for stage two, we would expect the NSW governemnt to follow suite, and planning is proceeding with Richmond Valley and Lismore Councils.


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