A rail trail, walking and cycling track, has once again been backed by the NSW state government between Murwillumbah and Crabbes Creek today.
Member for Tweed Geoff Provest MP said the state government had confirmed $7.8m in funding for the route.
‘When completed, the Tweed stage of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail will connect Murwillumbah with the villages of Stokers Siding, Burringbar, Mooball and Crabbes Creek, providing a great recreation and tourist destination for locals and visitors,’ Mr Provest said.
Deputy Mayor of Tweed Shire Council Chris Cherry told Echonetdaily that she was really pleased that the state government had reconfirmed its funding of the project.
‘Two years ago the state and federal government committed $6.5m each to the Northern Rivers Rail Trail. We welcome the in crease in funding from the state government for the work.’
Protecting the land from being sold off
Mr Provset highlighted in his press release that ‘The NSW government is committed to amending the legislation required to formally close the railway line between Murwillumbah and Crabbes Creek, however the COVID-19 adjournment of Parliament means this will be delayed until later this year.’
However, Tweed Shire Mayor Katie Milne says that the state government needs to consult more widely with the community on their needs.
A key concern for any people with the rail trail is that the land, currently held by transport NSW, and that is proposed to be turned into crown land for the rail trail, will be at risk of being sold off by the state government in the future for profit.
‘I would encourage the state government to consult more widely with the community as there is significant division within the community over changing the legislation from its current status,’ she told Echonetdaily.
‘there has been no public consultation with the community on this. They don’t know if it has community support. Byron Shire Council has shown with their study that light rail may be feasible. The state government may be making one of the biggest mistakes of this generation by changing this legislation.’
Deputy Mayor Cherry sais, ‘We are really grateful that the state government is committing to this project. But people want to ensure that the land does not go out of public hands.
‘We would like to see the land held in perpetuity for public transport needs now and into the future.’
According to Mr Provest construction is expected to begin shortly after the legislative amendment is approved.
Dual use track
The Tweed council have committed to considering off track formations during the tender process for the rail trail. This means that they are interested in viable proposals that would keep the rail tracks in place while facilitating the rail trail beside the existing tracks. This would allow the development of a possible rail based service in the future or the use of the route for other appropriate forms of transport.
‘Rail trails are popular around the world for walking, cycling and horse riding as they encourage healthy lifestyles while also boosting local tourism, which brings dollars into the region, support local jobs and attracts further investment,’ said Mr Provest.
‘The Tweed stage will help drive growth for the regional NSW visitor economy and increase tourist numbers to the Northern Rivers, which in the coming years will be more important than ever, in the wake of the current COVID-19 crisis.’