A Notice of Motion by independent Cr Basil Cameron, for the March 26 Council meeting, will ask support for a rail link between Mullumbimby and Byron Bay ‘as the first stage of a multi use activation of the rail corridor’.
Cameron told Echonetdaily, ‘The traffic crisis currently generating queues that extend all the way from Byron township to the M1 is reason enough to get on with this project.
‘A rail link with park and ride locations at Ewingsdale and other points along the route is the only long term and cost effective solution capable of reducing the growth in road traffic numbers.
‘The striating point in a staged approach would utilise small buses (hi-rail) that can operate on rail and road. Hi-rail allows for flexible routes, as well as moving demand off roads in Ewingsdale and other locations.
‘Cycling and walking options would help to further reduce demand for road space.
‘Public transport would receive a significant boost, as the missing connection between the Brunswick Valley ‘town centre’ bus service and southern parts of the Shire would be overcome.
‘A rail link aligns with the Mullumbimby and Byron Bay Masterplan objectives to prioritise walking, cycling and to reduce traffic in town centres.
‘This is a financially sustainable approach that assists with climate change mitigation, and will support the community well into the future through better management of the Byron Shire transport network as a whole.
‘We have the foundation study (Archadis, Multi Use Rail Corridor Study) that demonstrates a net benefit of this approach. The study estimates this could be achieved for substantially less than the cost of the Byron Bay by-pass.
‘It is time for a rail link. It is also time for the major parties to rethink the ways in which they support resilience building, and back our community’s vision for sustainable transport.
‘A good start would be to ensure that the current protections for the corridor and the rails are not removed’.
Echonetdaily asked Cr Cameron, ‘How will this be funded? Are there plans for this?’
Cr Cameron replied, ‘The idea is for Council to take a lead on the project and deliver a “shovel ready” project, while seeking a variety of funding from NSW and federal governments. The business plan will consider the best approach for delivery of services, and may include a role for Council in the future as a governance partner.
‘It is only through local leadership that looks at the project through our eyes and understands the benefits to our community that this project can be delivered.
‘The price tag is very reasonable compared to the likely costs of constantly expanding the Ewingsdale Road corridor, something that does, and will continue, to draw off funds from the rest of the Shire’s road network’.