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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

Positive results

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Rail trail

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Cr Basil Cameron, Goonengerry

Council is supporting a multi-use of the corridor that includes a walking and cycling trail. The study conducted for Byron Shire Council looking at the corridor from our community’s perspective has rated two multi-use options as having a positive cost/benefit ratio. The positive result is because the options are multi-use rather than single use.

Perhaps we should work together to achieve multiple benefits for the community.


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8 COMMENTS

  1. And what will be walking on the track Cr Basil Cameron?
    Horses and where horses are is plots of horse manure.
    That manure makes it dangerous for cyclists and walkers.
    I suggest councilors put their thinking caps on and think things through.

    • I don’t think there are any plans for horse riding along the Byron shared corridor. Horse riding is planned for parts of the Tweed rail trail though, so perhaps you should raise your concerns with the local rail trail group

      • I still don’t know how this will be paid for. What happens to the rail trail when going over bridges? Who on earth can afford to fix all the bridges? Byron. to Mullumbimby? Who on earth will use it?

    • The only problem with horse manure is the content of the Arcadis Report that suggests replacing one in twenty sleepers on a line that has been buried in thick vegetation for more than a decade will result in a railway fit for running trains. The proposed Very Light Rail trains they will be running don’t even exist despite the report claiming they were “currently being tested in the UK”.

      Any intelligent reading of the report reveals it is hopelessly optimistic. I believe Arcadis was told to justify the return of trains to the line and they did the best they could. We can’t be sure because the council refuses to reveal the Terms of Reference document provided to Arcadis.

      Byron Ratepayers should demand this document be made public. It was their money that was spent on the report which I understand cost $280,000. Council has already allocated another $200,000 to Arcadis to asses the condition of the seven decaying wooden bridges between Bayshore Drive and Mullumbimby. Too bad there are at least twenty bridges in this section.

      The council is well on their way to spending a million dollars just on reports despite having no idea where the funding to actually do anything will be coming from. The detailed reports will cost in the millions and still nothing will have been done.

      If I were a Byron ratepayer I would be worried, very worried. Railway projects inevitably become funding black holes, consuming every dollar that wanders too close.

  2. From an Ex Railway worker on the Northern Rivers Line
    “It will never be open for rail traffic again. ..sorry to say…i worked in the timber bridge gang ftom 1989 to 1998…there were over a 120 timber bridges between Lismore and Murwullimbah. .and only a few of them did not have slow down speed put on them…all the rest had a 20km speed limit slapped on them because of the need to be repaired. .and a lot of the bridges were on curves…to much weight and load on the high rail..which just flogged out the timber structure. .construction timber is not a viable resource anymore and the life span of it is limited concrete and steel is the only true option to eradicate the maintenance and load issue….would cost way to much $$$$$ to cover the build and repairs..access to worksites is a major problem as well.so…really its only a dream..thinking it would get off the ground and up and running again…am sorry to say..😕😕”

  3. So Byron Shire has spent $280,000 with Arcadis and for that we found that the line would be run very light vehicles (non actually running in Australia) at speeds under 60kmh and a weight of under 10 tonnes . Now we have a few councillors spending $25,000 per bridge for engineering studies before they can proceed any further . Oh and did I say that there are at least 23 bridges between Mullum and Byron requiring these engineering reports ? So another $600,000 odd before any spade digging or bridge repairing action .
    Then we notice that the report and the councillors factor in having transport for delivering patrons to the train stations or to the patrons work places . People will only walk a maximum of 1km for train travel .
    Until our councillors understand the First Mile Last Mile formula then the middle train transport bit is irrelevant.
    But you cannot make the councillors understand this if they are wearing blinkers and do intent on thinking trains will get people out of cars .

  4. Arcadis’ lead consultant for the Multi Use Rail Corridor study, told me Arcadis’s projected use of rail and path options used to calculate the benefits of each was based on city transport mode share as a simple way of comparing options. She understood Byron Shire has a much higher share of walking and cycling and a lower share of public transport users than our cities, and explained that if the Byron Shire pursued any suggested use of the corridor a more appropriate methodology would be used and be likely show a better return for a cycling and walking path. We must assume Arcadis would have briefed councillors similarly about the limitations of the initial cost benefit assessment. I commented on the report at the time that the cost benefit calculation does not discount the benefits of any rail in line with the longer likely time-frame needed to attract funding and Council staff responded: “Timelines were not considered as the report still needs to be accepted by Council then potential models researched”.
    I note too that Arcadis only made a superficial assessment of the state of the bridges along the corridor – not even knowing how many there were – and its assessment of the suitability of the corridor for multi use did not go past commenting on width, not examiner the detailed engineering required. This was because it claimed the corridor was inaccessible. I have walked two sections of the “inaccessible” corridor – five km of it with Cr Lyons – and others have walked most of it and photographed most of the bridges and topography.
    The path along the rail corridor was found to be a high priority in the Shire’s very consultative Pedestrian and Mobility Plan and its Cycling Plan, and it would be likely to attract funding as have stages one and two of the rail trail. I was told councilors were urged to consider a much less expensive examination of the viability of such a path by Council staff (the case for stage two of the rail trail was crowd funded and done for $75,000). In spite of this recent advice, and against Arcadis’ and council staff’s earlier advice that further research was needed to show the cost and benefits of options, Cr Cameron’s assumes multi use is a physically viable option, has presented it as the only option financially viable, and at his urging Council agreed to pursue the rail option and seeks half a million dollars for a “virtual” examination of the bridges alone.
    It’s up to Byron Shire residents how they spend their rates, and up to its council if ignores the priorities it determined in its own expensive and thorough PAMP and Cycling Plan process. I was told by Council that the Arcadis report did not consider the benefits to the region of its corridor path as part of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail, because : “All other Shires are designing a rail trail to attract tourists – this is not the main aim of this study”. But in line with Simon Richardson’s comments on Four Corners, our region now badly needs jobs in construction and tourism as part of the Covid-19 recovery. It would be great to think that the multi use idea might work and attract funding, but that still remains unclear will be expensive and take time to work through. I urge Byron Shire to consider again not delaying the much less expensive business case for the corridor path.

  5. Greg, Labor councillor, Paul Spooner spoke in favour of this report being made available to Byron residents for precisely the reason you give – we paid for it. It went nowhere. With more funds – yes a potential black hole – being directed to more ‘investigation’, I would have thought transparency on all matters would be a huge priority. It’s not like we have the lowest rates in the state!

    At the last meeting, some councillors suggested identifying interested investors or other sources of funding before ploughing ahead but plough ahead they did. I’m not sure if this was before or after the sum of two hundred grand was questioned along with the number of bridges involved.

    Looking at the recent investment performance surrounding a couple of art installations I’m not only afraid, I shudder. Not to mention the frustration at the lost opportunities to have a truly wonderful shire asset in the rail trail.

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