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Closure of the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line

Beth Shelley

Last Wednesday a bill went to the Lower House of the NSW Parliament supported by Geoff Provest, Nationals MP for Tweed and Janelle Saffin, Labor MP for Lismore.

This bill was introduced to the house by Paul Toole, Minister for Regional Transport and concerns closing sections of the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line and ripping up the railway tracks for rail trails/bike paths.

However, rail trails can be established without legislation or removing the railway tracks, as with Oberon in Mr Toole’s own seat of Bathurst where a bike track runs beside a railway line without a change in legislation.

The only speakers against the bill were Tamara Smith, Greens MP for Ballina and Jamie Parker, Greens MP for Balmain. ‘This shows a lack of commitment from the Government and successive governments to rural and regional New South Wales,’ said Jamie Parker. ‘This legislation is another nail in the coffin for the return of rail.’

Nationals and Labor MPs mentioned the Tumbarumba to Rosewood rail trail as a role model for the Northern Rivers however there is a very big difference. Tumbarumba has 1,862 people and Rosewood has a population of 214 people. They would like a rail trail to interest tourists in coming to their area.

The Casino to Murwillumbah area has nearly 300,000 people and over 2.1 million tourists coming to Byron Bay alone.

Tamara Smith said that in her electorate of Ballina, they have shown that they can return rail and we can have it all. ‘We can have both. The off-formation model – whereby the rail trail is located to the side, preserving the corridor so that transport can return is a win-win.’

The world-first Solar train is currently running at Byron Bay and Byron Shire Council plans to extend rail services, with a rail trail beside, throughout the Byron Shire.

Since the ARUP report (estimated cost $7 million/km), the Byron Bay Solar train was developed on 3 kms of the line, costing less than $500,000/ per km in 2018. In its first year it carried over 100,000 passengers. These are much greater tourist numbers than the proposed rail trails.

A sad day for the region

This is a very sad day for our region. The repair of our railway would cost less than the repair of a single road of the same length and yet the government has no interest. They don’t want to provide adequate rail services for the elderly and people without transport to get around in our communities.

They have forgotten the reason for being a government which is about creating equal opportunity for all people to have a reasonable quality of life. But as we’ve seen recently elderly people rarely get the services they need and deserve in our society and this is a terrible failure on our part.

A major issue in the debate was whether there was any community consultation into retaining the rail for future rail services or providing a bike path.

Janelle Saffin said she didn’t not know how much longer the bill can be debated, because it has been debated it for so long.’

‘We have had a week to look at this bill. We tried to get an Inquiry into the bill and had the support of the entire crossbench but Labor blocked it,’ said Tamara Smith.

Extensive community consultations?

Geoff Provest said the New South Wales Government has facilitated extensive community consultations in the Tweed shire in October 2017 and in the Richmond Valley Council area in February 2020.’

There has been no community consultation by the government in Casino or Murwillumbah, Lismore or Byron Bay. Byron Council might be surprised to hear that the government plans to close the whole track.

Janelle Saffin was voted in with the help of Greens preferences at the last election taking the seat from the Nationals. Is she risking the loss of her seat at the next election?

Tamara Smith took her seat from the Nationals the election before that and perhaps has more experience as a representative to the State government. Certainly the Nationals don’t care about seats on the North Coast.

What matters is looking after people and the government isn’t doing that and unfortunately, Labor isn’t either. When we lose our railway we lose our history, our heritage and our ability to have safe, accessible transport around the region for all people.

In two weeks the bill will go to the Upper House and Labor is saying they will support it. They will not allow discussion of the possibility of both rail and rail trail even though there is the space for it.

In this time of a climate emergency and the need to cut transport emissions it makes no sense to lose the potential of trains running on this line to take cars off the road.

Labor will lose the next election because of their failure to support the needs of the community and they don’t even seem to care.

This is a sad day indeed.

Beth Shelley is the Chair of the Northern Rivers Railway Action Group

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39 responses to “Closure of the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line”

  1. The area could use more direct services (like trains, yes solar powered) for people who either do not drive by choice or otherwise…bike paths can be incorporated too, win win.

  2. Brian Fisher says:

    Updated:

    This is a case of a council acting contrary to the wishes of the majority of ratepayers. Surveys have made it clear the majority want the line reopened.As a former Track Manager with Rail Infrastructure Corp and having inspected the entirety of the line, the line can be reopened to its former operational state for less than the cost of the proposed rail trail.Ratepayers are being duped and mislead by the railtrail proponents. This is an exercise of cost shifting by the state government and a spoke in the wheel of removing the line and selling off the land. The rail trail proponents can’t point to a financially viable example in Australia. Then there are the bio security issues, the assumptions that farmers will allow every Tom, Dick and Harry onto their properties with horses and pets.Council, you do not have the authority of the people of Tweed Heads nor the people of nsw to pull the track up. It’s not your money. You act without authority. The majority have told you they dont want it ripped up. They want trains restored. It’s only politics standing in the way of this line being reopened. I’m happy to provide my services free to council to show council just how easy it is to reopen the line. I can be contacted at [email protected](External link) My area of responsibility as Track Manager included 200km of the main south. 33 staff. 500km of track in total including associated branch lines. The rail trail will become a liability of the council shifting from the state. Currently council bears none of the cost of the corridor maintenance. Council will bear 100% of the cost if it’s converted to a rail trail. There isn’t a profitable rail trail in Australia. They are all a financial liability. The line was profitable until the Carr Labor government mismanaged the line replacing a profitable motorail that generated $22m/pa, $11.5m in profits paying for the upkeep of the line, replacing the motorail with an ill suited loss producing xpt.

    Brian Fisher

    • Greg Clitheroe says:

      Brian Fischer claims that the line could be reopened to its former operational condition at relatively little cost. What would be the point of getting it back to the point where it was barely on the edge of functioning again? When it closed, the speed limits had been cut to a crawl especially on the decaying wooden trestle bridges.

      He claims to have walked the whole route. Anyone familiar with the state of the corridor knows that substantial sections are so overgrown with vegetation that walking them is impossible, let alone being able to assess the cost of repairs.

      Rail trails across the world are continuing to be invested in by the local councils that manage them because they are a massive success bringing sustainable economic prosperity to the communities along them. Anyone who claims otherwise has their eyes shut.

      Brian is a retired railway employee who has a nostalgic fetish for trains. Like other NRRAG core misinformers he has no grasp of reality.

      • the end of the Railway will mean History will be repeated to the 1960s close of the Railway line from Brisbane to Tweed heads, as QLD govts rips up the railway, then they had regret it later on and fast forward to this day, they are building light Rail all the way down to Coolangatta , and it proven to be very popular and convenience, now with the Murwillumbah to Casino Railway line close in 2004, the NSW Govts will regret it just like the QLD govts did in the 1960s and they will end up wasting another $1 billions dollars to restore the Tracks on the line, this is the future , not the past , the populations is growing as fastest than ever before and we need the trains back to help cope with the Congestion on the road from Casino to the Gold Coast , especially Murwillumbah , where there is a huge road Congestion is happening now, so with the silly bills going to pass next week as it is going to be rigged, how native all those Rail Trail committee and those Councilors are to let that happens and not letting the Railway line stays in Public hands , they would have the track beside it but they refuse to do it , we got a week to fight for the Bills to sways back into public hand , bring back the trains !

        • Greg Clitheroe says:

          Like the Casino-Murwillumbah line, the original Gold Coast railway followed a tortuous steam age alignment.
          Former Gold Coast Mayor Lex Bell was about 10 years old when the lines shut down, and remembers being a passenger on the old trains.

          “It was a winding line and it therefore had to be navigated very carefully by the train drivers at the time.”
          “When the new track was put in it could only use part of the old track because it was so unsuitable,” he said.
          https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-20/why-were-the-gold-coasts-old-train-lines-ripped-up/9676344

          The new railway is built on a modern alignment with trains operating at 140 kph making them an attractive alternative to cars. The Queensland government did the right thing closing the old lines in 1964.

          The only regret is the corridor didn’t become a trail. Image today being able to cycle and walk throughout the Gold Coast without having to risk your life amid traffic. Nearly sixty years later it would have been an absolutely iconic world renown tourist feature. It would have been the backbone of an efficient transport system and the Gold Coast would have been a far more livable place.

          We have the opportunity to make something really special for future generations on the Northern Rivers. Let’s not blow it and just get on with building what will surely become one of the most popular rail trails on the planet.

    • Well said Brian Fisher….”There isn’t a profitable rail trail in Australia. They are all a financial liability.” Why persist with this model? When the Byron solar train has proved to be a success. This region is well suited to a service like this…beautiful landscape, desired visitor destinations, manageable distances from one feature to another, plus an alternative form of transport to battling heavy traffic.
      Pretty angry here!

      • Greg Clitheroe says:

        How is the Byron Solar Train a success?

        In its first year it carried an average of fifteen passengers per service. Running costs were three times what was collected in fares resulting in a $500,000 loss after spending millions setting it up. It is subsidised by Elements Resort. They don’t publish their financial figures any more.

        Who is going to subsidise the miniature trams that Byron Council proposes to run to Mullumbimby? They say it will be the tourists but experience at other tourist railways such as Gympie’s Mary Valley Rattler show that the ratepayers end up subsidising the tourists because they won’t pay what it actually costs to run the train despite the enormous volunteer input.

        Still I’m sure that generous Byron ratepayers wouldn’t mind a levy being added to their rates so they can run trams to Mullumbimby for tourists.

  3. Tim Shanasy says:

    It is so far, transpiring to be a win for simple logic, even though it has taken so long.
    But this region is at last, embarking on what will be the greatest draw-card in tourism, next to the coastline and surf, the Rail Trail’s access to our hidden secret.

    Set to be also, a highly loved wildlife corridor, as walkers and riders take in easy travel, the views and picnic stops along the way. To revitalise the hinterland towns with the vibrant scenery loving folk.

    The truth is, that no-one dislikes trains, but most understand why the rail service had to be closed 16 years ago.
    Yes, it’s very sad that trains ceased in 2004, but the writing was long on the wall.

    Now is the time to celebrate the magnificence of the 1890’s rail era, by opening up our weeds, camphor trees and Lantana invested corridor, for ALL to enjoy.

    It has been long overdue.

    • Jillian Spring says:

      Tim Shanasy, You say: The truth is, that no-one dislikes trains, but most understand why the rail service had to be closed 16 years ago.Yes, it’s very sad that trains ceased in 2004, but the writing was long on the wall.
      No, most do not understand why our rail service had to be closed & the writing was long on the wall!
      On reading the Inquiry into the closure of our rail service, the plain simple fact was, maintenance had begun to be ‘avoided’ as we shall say, money to maintain, was never all used, only very small amounts, work gangs were gradually reduced, the XPT was introduced, carrying less passengers & with only 1 train per day, of course passenger numbers were down! The Sydney pollies took our train away! This also stated by Sue Dakin, Country Labor lady from Ballina and Jenny Dowell, plus they said they were all shocked and it was a very sad day before Easter the Min Michael Costa said the train service would be stopped and this was 6 months earlier than he had promised before, of which Sue Dakin & Jenny Dowell were shocked at this news! That was the Northern Star feature news and with so much support all the time in the battle to keep our train service! Bridges etc, maintenance was happening, thousands of steel sleepers were waiting to replace old wooden sleepers! The NSW Labor budget was a-happening – so our rail service was to be the scapegoat & ‘save’ the NSW city Labor $5M. 12 months was promised, then suddenly that was renigned on – so hence the protest train to Sydney with all politcal parties (except city Labor), mayors of all our towns, All in all – a swift nasty plain simple political action to take our train service – as The Northern Star headline read: The day the Sydney pollies took our train. What an indictment – LISMORE CITY DELETE OF A TRAIN SERVICE!! Delay seemed to be a ‘weapon’ to continue to delay maintenance also and other political parties backflipped and we know who don’t we, plus Country Labor Lismore ex-mayor who fought for the train service but ‘gave in’! Jillian Spring, Billinudgel

  4. Carole Gamble says:

    Thankyou Ed, for publishing this very sad note in a long running saga of misinformation, lack of vision and commitment to resuming a railway connection to serve all residents and visitors in our diverse region.
    The currently “suspended” service has always represented a chance to provide sustainable, affordable and absolutely delightful rail travel along the amazing route that was forged over a hundred years ago, made possible by governments with vision for a future and built with backbreaking skill.
    I find it incomprehensible that a functioning light rail and a beautiful walking/ cycling track can’t be seen to co -exist in the same Reserve for us all to use.
    Rezoning opens up the real possibility of development along this valuable corridor and even if the Bill states that it can’t be sold, it can be parcelled up into long term leases which would prevent it EVER being the safe entity it is at present. Please petition the Upper House MPs to reject this Bill or future generations will mourn the apathy and wonder what we were all thinking.

  5. marie lawton says:

    This is great news for the region! At the moment we have an overgrown derelict railway line that no-one can access and if we don’t have a rail trail it will only get worse. Beth reminds us about the elderly and the disabled needing public transport. They need good community door to door transport – not a train that won’t take them where they need to go.
    I am sorry that NRRAG hasn’t succeeded in bringing the train back at this time, but their hard work and diligence will ensure that the legislation will keep the corridor in public hands and can be used as a transport corridor in the future if necessary.
    The trail will allow the locals to access this beautiful region safely on foot or on a bike and will create much needed employment. Thank you to Geoff Provest and Janelle Saffin.

    • Martin says:

      Saying the current line is overgrown and can’t be reopened is so stupid.
      Look at the infrastructure and development that has been done to the Pacific Highway, most of it is completely new work that cost hundreds of millions of dollars. To rebuild sections of the train line is minor compared and the Beni fits are enormous. Too bad there’s a baby boomer rail trail lobby that selfishly will push social community interests aside for their own needs.

  6. David Ryan says:

    I find it unbelievable that a government is completely shutting there eyes to the casino to murwillumbah rail line it should never have closed in the first place when you have a town like Byron bay and the gold coast further along the train line should have been upgraded and extended further and been linked to the QLD network just look at the amount or work that has been on the gold coast rail and light rail network I don’t see them closing any part of that network very short sighted move by nsw

    • Greg Clitheroe says:

      Any connection to the Queensland Rail network would start with a seven kilometre tunnel under Tweed Heads because the social and resumption cost of putting a railway through suburbia would be prohibitive. This has already been costed at more than a billion dollars.

      Continuing south the same distance as Murwillumbah but instead along the M1 would reach within eight kilometres of Yelgun where the M1, Tweed Valley Way and the corridor converge. This would avoid having to reconstruct 26 kilometres of the most decrepit section of the old line winding through the Burrinbar Range. It would also be much more accessible to the growing coastal villages in Tweed Shire and save a substantial time on the journey for everyone.

      There is no way trains will ever be returning to the Murwillumbah-Crabbes Creek section. Let’s just get on with building a world class rail trail. Murwillumbah desperately needs this project. It has already been fully funded and the Tweed Council has been ready to ramp up to construction for two years.

    • Tony Cosgrove says:

      Rail trail? What a waste of time and money. No one will use it beyond the initial hype it generates. It will be as forgotten as the rail line. Who comes up with these monumentally stupid ideas?

  7. shame on labour not supporting the general public, how does pensioners feel when there are only a couple of buses going to and from Murwillumbah down to Lismore or Casino and in between are we suppose to get on our bikes and peddle up and down. What good is a bike track, who can afford a taxi and we don’t all have cars. it will be a sad day if they take the train tracks out.

    • Greg Clitheroe says:

      Many more bus services could be added for a fraction of the cost of resurrecting trains. Besides, most people from Murwillumbah travel to the north. If you don’t believe this just stand on Tweed Valley Way at Burringbar for a day. There wouldn’t be enough people to justify a train even if they all stopped using their cars.

      A railway to the south from Murwillumbah would only benefit a very tiny minority. The notion that terminating a railway in a town of less than ten thousand people is utterly ludicrous.

  8. The Sheriff says:

    Not entirely sad.
    The corridor is saved for a rail trail although it will not be as popular as many people think.
    For rail to be effective (and used as rail lovers would hope) a new corridor needs to be planned which takes in areas of significant population, including Byron, Lennox Head, Ballina and Alstonville.
    Extending the rail line from the Gold Coast to Byron could make it a goer but that proposition has not attracted the politician’s support in the past.
    Originally, the line was built at great cost to serve the shipping services.

  9. In this time of climate emergency and the need to cut carbon emissions, enormous strides are being made in the production of electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as fast, flexible transportation options. Trains were fabulous more than 100 years ago when there were no cars, buses or trucks. Times have changed, we now need transportation options that are infinitely cheaper, faster, more adaptable and service a far greater area than trains. The existing single, one-way track in question extends from Casino to Murwillumbah where the majority of the current population… isn’t.

  10. Greg Clitheroe says:

    Tweed Shire engineers determined that the rail trail (not a “bike track”) cannot be built next to the rails. The cuttings and embankments are too narrow and then there is the 500 metre long tunnel passing one hundred metres below the Burringbar Range. There is no alternative route.

    There are no credible plans to put trains on the tracks to Murwillumbah. Hence there is nothing whatsoever to gain by “saving” the rails. It would blow out construction and maintenance cost and result in an inferior trail that would not meet the standard required to attract our share of the rail trail tourist dollar.

    Vast numbers of trees have grown right up to the track in the almost two decades since the trains stopped running. The shade and amenity from these trees is one of the best features of the rail trail. Thousands of trees would need to be destroyed and disposed of at enormous cost to widen the clearing for both rails and the trail.

    The Byron train is not actually “solar” powered. It runs on batteries that are charged from the grid and augmented by a small solar array on the train. Solar panels on the storage shed feed power back into the grid. The train is nothing more sophisticated than an 1940s diesel-electric railmotor where one of the diesel engines has been removed an a battery and charger fitted. It does not represent any significant innovation.

    Yes, it carried 100,000 people in its first year of operation. This is very small numbers for a train being an average of fifteen passengers per service or just fifteen percent of its seating capacity and equivalent to a minibus. The running costs were three times the fares collected resulting in a loss of about $500,000 for the first year. It only exists at all because it is subsidised by Elements Resort. Essentially it is a millionaire’s toy train. Who is going to subsidise Byron proposed miniature trams? Nobody would use them at what they really cost to run.

    Trains are only an environmental benefit if they carry large numbers of passengers. A poorly subscribed service would increase carbon emissions. Vast amount of materials required to resurrect the track including many thousands of tonnes of concrete.

  11. Greg Clitheroe says:

    The corridor does not go near the largest population centres in the region. Nowhere near where the oldest people live, nowhere near the areas with the lowest car ownership. Nowhere near any hospitals or universities. It connects a few small towns to Lismore which is one of the slowest growing areas in the region and has been overtaken by Ballina as the most important centre is the southern part of the shire. The railway is useless to Ballina, as it is for Tweed Heads and the growing coastal communities in Tweed Shire.

    Tumbarumba and Rosewood do have very small populations yet enjoy thousands of rail users each month even in a pandemic. Imagine which it will be like for the Tweed Valley Rail Trail with half a million people just up the road at the Gold Coast and millions more in Brisbane.

    Before the election, Tamara Smith was all for the rail trail but it is another story now. She may well pay for her deceit next time around. It won’t be forgotten. It would be a mistake to assume that the majority of Green voters are enamoured with resurrecting a decrepit railway that could not meet the public transport need of the region even if hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on it. The rail trail is far more important to most Green voters.

    The Green voters whose preferences got Janelle Saffin over the line last time might simply vote Labor next time. A lot of voters aligned with what were Green values are sick to death of the nonsense and obstruction, particularly on a vital project like the rail trail. Why would they give their preferences to the National Party anyway? They didn’t back the railway either.

    Sue Higginson looked like the real deal coming up to the election but blew it when she stated that the rail corridor was our best public transport resource. Tragically, rubbish like this is making the Greens look increasingly ridiculous.

  12. Steve Watkins says:

    What is this story telling us?
    It is very confusing.
    Of course we need a railway in the Northern Rivers and anyone who opposes that fact is against the community, against fixing the climate and obviously has other agendas.

  13. Justin says:

    When the train service was here years ago. There was lucky to be 5 people who ever used it per day. Then most of the people who did use it were Pensioners, which essentially was a free ride…. It was hardly used then, so why would people use it now?

    The cost of repairing will also be significantly higher than what people believe it will cost. I live next to the train tracks. They have sustained years of wear and tear. With bridges collapsed, rotting railroad ties, sub-grade washed away and damaged/bent rails. The cost of repairing this would be so absurdly expensive. Far more than warranting a couple of people per day to catch a train.

  14. Ken says:

    This is THE most reprehensible abuse of public resources I have witnessed in this area. There is no doubt that rail is the most efficient transport method and, when connected to the southern most Queensland line, would move goods and tourists in exponential increase. This would mean enormous profits to business south of the border, so the question is, who wants to prevent this ? I don’t believe it is those gullible enough to swallow the story of a bikey,horsey track being of any benefit to anybody, no ,this has been a concerted effort over decades, and has a potential payoff of billions to vested interests, property developers, trucking companies etc, who see the re-establishment of cheap publically owned transport, on publically owned land a threat to their plans for private profit.
    Once this corridor is gone, it will never again be affordable to re-acquire what we already own and I believe it is criminal corruption that is behind this wanton destruction of public assets and all those advocating this retrograde action should be subject to investigation by ICAC.

  15. Peter Hatfield says:

    When the Legislative Assemble passed the legislation to enable a rail trail and keep the corridor in public hands NRRAG commented on a Facebook post about cyclists on rural roads:
    “Never mind, the ageing, self entitled middle class cycling tragics are taking over our public railway so they can play with the Eastern Browns basking on the formation.
    As they are mostly of the green wash variety of green , ie, shuttle their latest hi tech cycle made in Who Flung Dung’s Chinese sweat shop on the back of their late model tin top to get to the rail head any remaining still riding abreast on country road corners should be fair game.”
    I brought this disturbing comment by NRRAG to the intention of its Chair Beth Shelley – and also to NSW MPs involved with the legislation so they had some idea of the risks and hostility we face and why cyclists want to repurpose what are unused rail corridors to encourage rural cycling and walking. The post thankfully appears to have been removed. Greens transport spokesperson Abigail Boyd thought the comment was unacceptable and racist, while Tamara Smith’s office advised:”Tamara regrets that you, as a cyclist, should be exposed to abuse in any form.” and that ” the sentiments expressed in the post are repugnant, and have no place in any discussion of the issue.
    I appreciate it is difficult for NRRAG to accept that there will not be rail services on either of those parts of the line for the foreseeable future and that the councils of Tweed and Richmond Valley, supported by their council, and the members for Page, Richmond, Clarence and Tweed, wish to put the disused corridor to another public use. But readers should be aware that it is much less any realistic hope of a return to rail services but rather unapologetic anti-cycling and anti-rail trail sentiment within NRRAG that is now driving its campaign against the legislation to enable alternative public use and public ownership of the corridor .

    • Greg Clitheroe says:

      Rail advocates have always resorted to attacking the people opposed to their cause because they are unable to come up with anything to counter the facts presented. Since the legislation passed through the lower house the offensive language and derogatory remarks have reached new levels at both NRRAG and TOOT Facebook pages.

      People should ask themselves if they want to be associated with that kind of behaviour. It only takes a couple of clicks to unlike and unfollow a page.

  16. Geoff Bensley says:

    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fdu549vgsq2tgix/AADZzWzklw9ZBBXNtzob207Aa?dl=0
    Please look at these beautiful bridges Tyagarah and Macauley’s Lane in the link above . So good that Byron Council is spending approximately $25,000 per bridge getting an engineering report , there are around 20 bridges . A $500,000 report will hopefully come up with a pricing schedule for replacement that is under $15 for this 5km section.

  17. John Sheldon says:

    Here’s an idea, all the excess railway land superfluous to the actual rail corridor is very valuable property, probably in the vicinity of $400 million in Byron Shire alone so why not sell this to the developers waiting in the wings and then use this money to rebuild the railway infrastructure instead of siphoning it off to the govts coffers to spend elsewhere or put into a bike trail the majority of north coast residents don’t want.
    All the negative rambling about it costing too much will become null and void because the part of the public asset not required for rail services can fund the remainder that is required.

  18. Greg Clitheroe says:

    Well there is a turn up. A core NRRAG member advocating the sell off of corridor land. Another surprise is that John has begun to acknowledge the true magnitude of the funding required to resurrect the railway.

    Wherever the money came from it would still be huge waste because rail services on that corridor could never make a significant contribution to the current or future public transport needs of the region.

    There is no evidence that the majority of the north coast residents don’t want a rail trail (it isn’t a “bike track”). Many residents are not even yet aware of the rail trail project. We know from other rail trails that they become extremely popular one they have been constructed. In fact many of those who were originally ardent detractors become enthusiastic supporters once they see the economic benefits of trails to the towns and villages along them.

    The vast majority of residents couldn’t care less about the railway because would be completely useless to them. However they would care if hundreds of millions of dollars was squandered providing luxury public transport for a tiny minority who happened to live near and need to travel to places near the corridor.

  19. John Sheldon says:

    It’s interesting how a bike trail supporter can lift an NRRAG comment out of context from a f/b post without including his own comment that provoked the response.
    Apparently a motorist is in the wrong if , when travelling at the set speed limit and when rounding a bend on a rural road, comes across a car coming in the opposite direction and two cyclists riding abreast going in the same direction requiring the car to brake. According to this bike rider the car was travelling too fast so is in the wrong ??

    • Peter Hatfield, Cumablum says:

      The original post was from a driver who in their words had to “slam on brakes” because of cyclists on a rural road. Plainly they were not driving at an appropriate speed which is wrong, and it shows very clearly why cyclists are looking for safer ways to travel through our area. The post is a concern, but so is NRRAG’s attempt to piggy back on anti-cycle sentiment. Even if written in jest a post suggesting cyclists will be “fair game” is disturbing.
      The bill to enable an alternative public use of the corridor was passed in the Legislative Assembly with the strong support of Labor. That makes it very clear that no NSW Government is going to put trains back on the the Richmond Valley or Tweed sections of the Casino Murwillumbah line. That is understandingly disappointing for rail supporters, but it is clear NRRAG is now focused not on getting back trains it knows will not happen, but rather on doing whatever it takes to try to stop the rail trail.
      I ask Beth Shelley as Chair of NRRAG to pay heed to Green MPs Tamara Smith and Abigail Boyd concerns, publicly retract NRRAG’s provocative comment that cyclists will be “fair game” on our roads, and to assure us NRRAG will not condone or incite any further unlawful action against cyclists and the rail trail.

  20. Dori says:

    Potential for trains to be used between the Gold Coast, Byron, Lismore? Think about the next gen too. Universities located at the GC airport, Lismore etc-Tafe opportunities in all the towns but all difficult access for youth-but we have a corridor that already links these areas.
    Opening up the train line for youth, employment and for tourism would be great for all. A little investment now into sorting out tracks and bridges (in comparison to replacing good stadiums) would turn out to be a great investment for our region. Our population in this region is increasing-NSW is a little embarrassing when you cross the border from Qld-northern rivers/tweed appears forgotten.

  21. Chris Abraham says:

    The current bus service to replace the railway loses money and few use it because of the journey time to many destinations.No one seems to be aware of how the railway would be very popular with overseas visitors to Byron who do not have cars and would like to explore the region and go to Lismore, Bangalow, Murwillumbah and the Tweed Art Gallery. In addition to making it easier to travel to these destinations,, the trip would provide a very scenic journey. In addition to the above,, the train would reduce traffic congestion and parking at the music festivals. Government needs to hold public meetings in the Northern Rivers before permanently closing the line. Surveys haave been undertaken by NRRAG and TOOT which show solid support for reopening the railway. Reopening the railway would not prevent a rail trail being constructed in the rail corridor. However, placing it on top of the rails would prevent this ever happening. The move by the Lower House to rezone the corridor indicates the disconnect between Government in Sydney and the local community. This indicates to me that democracy in this instance is not working. My final point is that a major cost that was invested in this railway more than 100 years ago was for land aquisition and building the embankments, cuttings and tunnels.These do not need to be replaced.. A closer investigation of the feasibility of the railway reopening should be done before effectively writing off this valuable asset…

    • Greg Clitheroe says:

      Democracy is working fine. NRRAG and TOOT successfully made the return of the trains an issue at the last State election by forcing candidates to declare where they stood on the issue. The outcome was unequivocal.

      The Greens candidate for Tweed was none other than TOOT’s own Bill Fenelon. He was resoundingly defeated by Geoff Provest who is in favour of the trail

      Greens candidate for Lismore, Sue Higginson claimed that the old corridor was our best public transport asset. That stupid statement cost her the election. The elected candidate Janelle Saffin is in favour of the trail.

      Green’s Tamara Smith said she backed the trail and was elected. Only recently did she change her tune and vote against the legislative change required to build the trail. Hopefully the voters will remember her duplicity at the next election.

      The surveys by NRRAG and TOOT were designed to only get one outcome. They were built on top of a campaign of misinformation and pretence.

      Those who think that a train would reduce congestion at music festivals need to do some mathematics about how many people could travel in what time period on a single line and model how exactly this would be achieved. Where would all the cars that are going to be avoiding the festival be parked? In Byron rather than the parking areas at the music festival?

      They should also ask if investing hundreds of millions of dollars in a railway could be justified for festivals running a few days per year.

  22. Greg Clitheroe says:

    We don’t have a corridor that links all these areas. It ends at Condong just north of Murwillumbah. Connecting from there to the Gold Coast Airport is far from “a little investment”. It would require a billion dollar tunnel under Tweed Heads. A line across the Tweed flood plain would be very expensive to construct which is why it was never extended to Tweed when it was originally built.

    The corridor doesn’t go anywhere near the University campuses in Lismore nor the major TAFE sites such as at Kingscliff or Ballina. But these sites are all serviced by bus routes that operate with very few passengers.

    Crossing the border into Queensland takes you into two the six largest metropolitan areas in Australia, home to three million people. Ironically the very same people who are demanding rail services for the sparse population on the Northern Rivers vehemently oppose any development that would lead to a greater population in this region that might eventually justify a mass transit system.

  23. John Sheldon says:

    The govt needs to step back and take a deep breath, there is no need to rush through a bill which has such long term ramifications . The govt’s lack of proper engagement and communication with the community according to their own guidelines needs to be addressed.
    The vegetation overgrowth of the corridor needs to be cleaned up to facilitate access and inspection of the infrastructure before rushing into this planned demolition. TSC and RVC have been champing at the bit to get this legislation passed in order to commence the destruction of what would be a $1.3 billion asset if it had 20% of that amount spent on refurbishment. Why not clear it all first or is it being deliberately left this way so it helps reinforce to the general public that its condition is beyond repair for a railway,,
    I suspect so with all the photos currently being circulated on f/b of the vegetation overgrowth and rotting low level timber under-bridges around Tyagarah and other areas within Byron Shire . There’s obviously a campaign to undermine BSC’s proposal of shared use.
    Labor need to get out of bed with their political opponents and vote with the Greens and cross benches who are calling for an inquiry , if there’s nothing amiss a couple of weeks is nothing to wait for for something that so important. This whole issue is much bigger than being just about a bike/ walking path.

    • David Michie says:

      John Sheldon, I took those photos and I’ve now walked almost all the way from Bangalow to Mullum in the past few weeks. There is no ‘campaign’. This is the reality of state of the corridor. I fully support the corridor being cleared ASAP.

      Byron Council has made the Byron to Mullum section a priority for restoration of rail services with a parallel trail. The Council agenda last month suggested there were 10 timber bridges of 10 metres of more on this section. Unfortunately their desktop survey was very wrong and there are in fact 23 bridges, and I’d suggest that every single one needs major repairs or complete replacement.

      Inventing conspiracies or sinister motives does your cause no good. I am interested in facts and objective assessments. I am happy to walk the corridor with you so you can see for yourself.

  24. Max taylor says:

    Hi everyone everybody has their views and we respect that but let’s just think out of the the square for a moment have any of you thought about rail biking or rail carting we don’t have to rip up the rails to enjoy this wonderfull asset a disused railway line it is much easier for all to enjoy biking on a rail line rather the arduous task of riding a dirt track if any of you are wondering what I am talking about just Google how to build a rail bike or a rail cart either can be purely pedal power or power assist or power only that covers everyone from the the fittest to the elderly with fitness issues I personally think this type of activity would be a bonus and a fabulous tourist attraction to all of the town’s on this line the type of activity is only light use and could be started with very little cost sorry about the grammar but I am dyslexic if any of you would like further info this just re post and I will get back to you best wishes max

    • Greg Clitheroe says:

      You can already do this in Tasmania. Check it out. http://www.railtrackriders.com.au

      Only $32 per person for an hour covering nearly five kilometres. You could ride from Byron to Lismore for just $320 each way. Or get a bargain for a family of four (two adults and two children) at just $800 each way.

      If a pedal powered train costs that, how much do you think an actual train costs to run? They are looking for volunteers too.

      But don’t forget that rail carts cannot overtake or pass each other so pretty hopeless on a single track despite the claims that you can “travel at your own pace”. They can’t go off the line to explore the areas that the trail connects either.

      Something like this would be fantastic at Burringbar where the corridor runs along the main street for over three kilometres and there is plenty of width for a track, a trail and more. Pull up some of the other parts of the track to build a complete loop. From the end of the main street it is just a 1.5 kilometre walk to the start of the magnificent 500 metre long tunnel under the Burringbar Range. This adventure would be a winner and people would be more than happy to pay for it especially if it were packaged with a dining experience somewhere nice.

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