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December 6, 2022

Councillor Cameron calls for Mullum to Byron rail link

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Councillor Basil Cameron. Photo David-Hancock

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’.

Funding sources

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’.

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  1. How many of those cars banked up past Tyagara on the M1 are travelling from Mullum to Byron, Basil? Where do you envisage those who aren’t will be able to access the rail along this route and park?

  2. Aside from a few custom Toyota Land Cruisers used for railway maintenance, there are no Hi-rail vehicles available. Such vehicles which carry both rail and road running gear would be incredibly expensive to develop and build and would preform poorly as either bus or tram. It would be very difficult to design a vehicle to meet modern vehicle safety requirements. Would you like to have a head on collision with rail bogey mounted on the front of a bus?

    I can find no examples of Hi-rail passenger services used anywhere in the world. The Hi-rail bus depicted in the Arcadis Report drawn up for Byron Shire Council is from a German Museum. It is the only one remaining of eight that were built in the 1950s. Their services operated for a short time but they were found to be impractical.

  3. A local rail system in this fragmented once-rural environment would be a boon.

    Many people don’t have cars or don’t drive, be they too young or too old.

    The more we can do to get/keep cars off the roads the better.

    Too many people, too many cars !

    And not enough alternatives … but with COVID-19 maybe we can all scale down and get back to simple living, like it was here only a seemingly short time ago….

    How sweet this place once was…

  4. So love Basil will be duplicating the railway line so that train sets can run in both directions at the same time and every 15 minutes during peak hours . Imagine the thousands of music festival patrons getting on these 400 seat trains and heading both north and south at the same time and possibly every 10 minutes .
    Update- sorry I just a phone call from Captain Slow Train who said it will be just a single track with very light rail Hi Rail commuter buses or prototype trams (sorry nothing yet available) very slow and not very regular.

  5. Thank you, Basil, for a viable, workable plan.
    To reconnect two of our major towns will enable travel from town centre to town centre, visitors out and workers in.
    I explored the Hi Rail system many years ago now.
    I contacted the WA firm that does Hi Rail conversions. They told me they could convert a road bus for $50,000 (may be more now).
    I asked how easy it would be to switch from road to rail and vice versa. The answer was 90 seconds and 30 seconds “if yo know what you are doing”. We are NOT talking millions here!
    “First we take Manhattan, then we take Bangalow” Courtesy Leonard Cohen.
    Let’s do it!!!

  6. Casino, Lismore to Eltham and on to Bangalow need rail connection too. What our community have overwhelmingly stated is: they do not want a rail trail that precludes reinstating commuter rail services on our branch line. We need connection not further disconnection. Our branch line communities don’t demand it – we deserve it, for now and the future.

  7. This is another ridiculous idea a pipedream that is unaffordable it’s not going to solve the traffic problem , finish one project at a time the dual carriageway will elevate some stress but not all .
    A bus terminus at the m1 entrance to ewingsdale would help as well as stop jamming more and more houses in people’s back yards capitalism (greed) is not the answer to anything , congratulations on destroying the sleepy little whaling town and turning it into a mosh pit of hippy s7!t , poverty and no solutions that

  8. Greg I perused the Arcadis report on the use of trams/trains/pods/HiRail vehicles on the old line but the final conclusion was downgrading it to “very light rail” that would only support vehicles like a Toyota Commuter or Coaster shuttle bus with drop down steel wheels . No statistics given in the report on how many persons per hour could be taken off the road , no statistics on how many music festival patrons could be moved , no information on fare pricing , no information on how many very light shuttle buses required on the line and running concurrently, no information on how many and how far apart passing loops will be , no information on building station platforms on both sides of the passing loops and yet there is plenty of yelling out that it will get people out of cars .
    Very short on information but plenty of chest beating on ‘trains will save us’ .
    Heaven help Byron Shire .

  9. I could see merit in linking Mullum and The Bay by rail if it delivered commuter speeds. As far as I know, and I’ve been researching this subject since 2009, commuter speeds of at least 80kph will require the complete rebuilding of the track from the ballast up for any sections that are laid over clay foundations which, apart from the coastal section laid over a sandy base, is most of it.

  10. Tell him he is dreaming. Regular free (or close to) electric mini buses running the whole area would be far more convenient and cheaper to run, with the prospects of making them driver less in the near future.

  11. A Regular free (or close to) electric mini buses running the whole area would be far more convenient and cheaper to run, with the prospects of making them driver less in the near future.

  12. OR we could buy electric buses and run regular services from Ocean Shores, Mullum, Ewingsdale, Byron Hospital, Byron Industrial and Byron centre. Another could go Byron, Bangalow, Clunes etc to Lismore. And another from Ballina, Lennox Head and Suffolk to Byron. If shorter times between pickups are required then you run more buses.

  13. Interesting idea.If the rail train can self fund from Sunrise Beach estate to Byron why could it not be extended from Bangalow to Billinudgel.. Actually how close to the festival site at “north Byron” does the old rail line go.That could help with the thousands of people that go there and back to their accommodation.

  14. The Bryon Solar train doesn’t self fund. In its first year of operation it collected about $250,000 in fares but operating expenses were about $750,000 resulting in a net loss of half a million dollars. Operation is heavily subsidised by the Elements resort.

    This was with a $3 fare for the three kilometre ride. Fares were raised to $4 for the second year but I am not aware of the financial figures being released to the public. At this rate a return fare to Mullumbimby would be about $40 so very unlikely to be used by commuters, and still lose money.

    The losses are on top of nearly $ 2 million spent to refurbish three kilometre of readily repaired track plus the cost of restoring and converting the old rail motor. Much of the track between Bangalow and Yelgun has been decaying under vegetation for more than a decade and would cost many tens of millions of dollars to restore. Nobody is going to invest this amount of money to make an ongoing loss.

    Thousands of people cannot be moved efficiently between Byron and North Byron Parklands using a train with a capacity of 100 over a single track.

  15. Anthony Humphrys think of the single line railway line like a single lane road . Think of that single lane road with a short pull over bay . The pull over bays are like passing loops on the single railway line . Now think of a 100 seat bus is only allowed in each segment between these pull over bays as it is not a 2 lane road . Is it efficient having a single lane road and how many people can you carry ?
    So unless the single lane railway is upgraded to twin track system it will not get cars off the road .

  16. How wonderful this rail link would be and could be!
    A vital service for all, but especially those
    who would be independent if such a service was a normal daily occurrence.
    Re-instate train travel it’s a viable option. Keep the tracks it’s the community’s connective infrastructure. Yes!

  17. I would go for longer pullover bays. As long as say 5 busses. If they are plased every 10 kilometers, you could run 4 trains up and down per houre.

  18. Does the traffic problem stop once you get from the M1 into town? No! Anywhere I go, the Pass, Clarkes, Wategoes etc there is limited parking at a cost if I find a spot. Leaving town south is just as big a problem.
    Too many cars, too many people. It used to be fine when Byron was for regional locals but now greed has caught Byron out. More roads? Where? More parking? Where? Train and track building and maintenance too high and the trip would be expensive. Maybe massive car park then regular buses into town and then shanks pony, bikes and rickshaws. Good luck, and Brunz is going the same way! Again greed, perhaps too many hostels and AirBnBs…

  19. More roads just brings more cars. Look at LA. They took out the trains and now have 12 lane highways. Trains are the only answer to traffic congestion that really works.


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