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Byron Shire
April 21, 2021

Waste of money

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So Council has spent $380,000 on the fabled return of trains to our region, and they’re planning on spending at least another $200,000. What a waste of money!

Simon Richardson states, when referring to the rail trail, ‘most of the community doesn’t want it’. Did I miss the referendum? And is he not aware that legislation has passed the Lower House that specifically relates to the closure of the rail corridor between Casino and Bentley, and between Crabbes Creek and Condong in the Tweed. Both these projects are shovel ready, and the community can expect construction to commence in the very near future.

So much for the lack of government support for the rail trail. It would be helpful if councillors did some research on the benefits of a rail trail, e.g. Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, and many, many others in Victoria and worldwide, instead of just blindly following the views of those who have never been on a bike!

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  1. Ruth a few of councillors will be looking at spending closer to $600,000 for the bridge engineering reports as there are about 23 bridges between Mullum and Bayshore Drive . On top of this will be the total rebuild of the bridges as they are totally flocked (I have walked most of the line ). And after that we still end up with a transport vehicle with a maximum speed of 60kmh and maximum weight of 10 tonne .
    I wish the few councillors really addicted to this fanciful nostalgic slow train black hole tramster following will take the blinkers off and wake up .
    Heaven help the ratepayers of Byron Shire

  2. According to Simon, ‘The bike trail people have been quietly supporting this [bringing back the trains] because they know that getting a financially feasible vehicle on there first is the best way to go.’

    I don’t know any rail trail people who think this way. If it is the best way to go, why is it that Tweed and Richmond Valley are ready to ramp up to construction of the trail as soon as the legislation passes the Upper House, while Byron is still ordering up more reports after already spending more than both the other councils and only having nonsense reports to show for it?

    The idea that miniature trams (Very Light Rail) or Hi-Rail (convertible road-rail buses) will be financially viable is utterly ludicrous.

    Simon isn’t running in the next election so his pipe dreams will be someone else’s problem.

  3. Well said Ruth. Simon Richardson should be aware that a walking and cycling path along the corridor was allocated the highest priority in the highly consultative Byron Shire Pedestrian and Mobility Plan and Cycling plan The business case and design for stage two of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail cost just $75k, most of which was crowd funded by the local community. .
    A path would also be very likely to attract funding from government, and could provide jobs and incomes to community as we come out of the Covid-19 depression that the mayor rightly and very eloquently described on Four Corners last week.
    I encourage Byron residents to consider the benifits of examining the path sooner rather than later.

  4. Fortunately the community has done extensive research and know that most of the line is in good condition and could have trains on it for little more than it would cost to rip it up for a bike track. Having a train service on the C-M line that connects our communities once again, and on to Coolangatta when the rail connection is built, is much more cost effective, socially and environmentally beneficial than the millions spent upgrading roads.

    In 2009 Geoff Provest MP for Tweed, said “…the NSW govt has missed an opportunity to secure federal funds on offer for major infrastructure which could ensure the extension of the line from

    Spending $84 million to modify the Byron Bay turnoff on the M1 to move dangerous traffic congestion further along Ewingsdale Road, and spending $24 million on the Byron Bay by-pass -total of $108 MILLION for three kilometers of roadworks (!!) is a very inefficient way to spend taxpayers’ money.

    For a little more we can have a train service on 132ks of rail line to provide public transport for locals and millions of tourists, save millions on roadworks, while taking millions of cars off the roads, rather just moving them further along the road.

    In 2009 Geoff Provest, MP for Tweed, said “…… the NSW government has missed an opportunity to secure federal funds on offer for major infrastructure projects which could ensure an extension to the line from Casino to Murwillumbah via Byron Bay and across the border to the Gold Coast Airport”. Mr Provest also said this “.is a perfect project.for federal infrastructure funding”….. We again have an opportunity to secure federal funds for this necessary project and provide secure, well paid jobs for locals at the same time.

    If the Rum Corp weren’t still running NSW the trains would have been running years ago.

    • You say that the community has done extensive research, but there is no publicly available assessment that actually looked at the line and concluded it was in good condition. I walked with a member of the Shire Transport Committee and Cr Lyons along two stretches between the Mullum and Bangalow and they were anything but in good condition, with rotten sleepers, serious erosion of and vegetation undermining the ballast and at one point the rails suspended in the air. ARCADIS claimed it was suitable for very light rail vehicles but also claimed it was not able to examine bridges that we and other community members have seen and photographed.
      The Government has closed the Casino to Bentley and Condong to Crabbes Creek parts of the line and plainly has no intention of leaving the Bentley to Crabbes Creek railway open indefinitely. . It is prepared to consider funding a rail trail and a path through the Byron Shire was identified as a high priority in its PAMP and Cycling Plan. The Government has indicated it had no objection to Byron Shire examining the possibility of a tourist rail but has not shown any interest in funding any examination of it , but The corridor belongs to all of us in NSW, and Byron Shire should not sit on the corridor for further decades in the hope someone will one day fund its rail. Perhaps it’s time for a Shire working bee to clear the matter up! .

  5. Louise, you keep tossing in the line about ‘and on to Coolangatta’ as though this is just a minor consideration – a little bit of extra track!

    This idea certainly does make a rail service more sensible but it ignores the facts that the rest of the corridor services the population densities and commerce of yesteryear and ignores the new demographic realities. It’s huge logistical challenges have not been costed but would certainly not be a minor addition to the calculations (a little out of date now) of costing the resurrection of the C – M line.

    • The challenge of connecting rail to Coolangatta has indeed been costed by the Tweed Public Transport Study. You can find it at the Tweed Shire Council website.


      It begins with a seven kilometre tunnel under Tweed heads because the social disruption and resumption cost of putting a railway though suburban Tweed Heads would be prohibitive. This was costed in 2012 at $1,332,000,000.

      Continuing south the same distance as Murwillumbah but along the M1 comes within eight kilometres of Yelgun where the M1, Tweed Valley Way and the old corridor converge. This path would save reconstructing 26 km of some of the most decrepit sections of the railway winding through the Burringbar Range. It would also take the line closer to the growing coastal towns in the Tweed Shire and save nearly twenty kilometres off the journey for everyone travelling between Tweed and anywhere south of Yelgun. It also avoids a very expensive construction across the acid sulphate soil of the Tweed River flood plain which would probably need to be built on a viaduct most of the way.

      This section was costed at $1,015,000,000. Add in another billion or whatever figure you prefer for the cost of resurrecting the old line and the notion of connecting Lismore to Tweed by railway become utterly absurd.

      There is no way in the world that trains will ever return to the corridor between Murwillumbah and Crabbes Creek. Building a third rate trail along the edge of the corridor while the rails continue turning into two long piles of rust would be ridiculous.

      Let’s just get on with building what will undoubtedly become one of the premier rail trails not only in Australia but the whole world.


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