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Byron Shire
September 21, 2021

Northern Rivers infrastructure boost

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Richard White, East Ballina

Wonderful news that the NSW Upper House has passed, without amendments, the legislation to keep the rail corridor in public hands and allow the development of a community pathway.

Anyone who has walked or ridden on the new, extended pathway to Pat Morton Lookout at Lennox head from Boulders will appreciate what a boon these paths are for our community.

Very soon Casino and Murwillumbah residents will be able to take their families for walks and rides, away from roads and traffic, enjoying the safety and tranquillity of a pathway traversing our beautiful region. With many sections being wheelchair accessible, this will be enjoyed by all.

We now need to get further government funding to extend to Lismore or Eltham, and to Billinudgel, and eventually the total path from Casino through Byron to Murwillumbah.

The wonderful rolling plains around Casino and Bentley, the river views, the subtropical Eltham to Bangalow section, and then the majestic seascape of Byron Bay, climaxing by travelling through Burringbar past Mt Warning to Murwillumbah – truly a first class, world attraction here in our home.

Once built, I’m sure any previous dissenters will come to recognise it as a great transformation to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

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  1. I note you are from East Ballina and thus your rates will not be used to fund maintenance for the trail in the future. Perhaps you should ask ratepayers in Lismore and Casino of their opinions. I know they are not at all keen to have their money thrown at the white elephant fantasy trail. Because when the short-term Govt. funded maintenance dries up and the mythical plans for a trust to magically pay for consistent maintenance and manpower fall through, Councils will be turned to. The community are being taken for a ride. If they do not realise that now, they will realise it in the years following rail trail construction.

    You can trumpet this as an “infrastructure boost” all you want, but the sad reality of this and the loss of rail infrastructure will be overwhelmingly clear in the years to come. I hope all the retirees who are campaigning for this are out in summer maintaining the trail, pulling weeds and grading the path. Especially when the hype wares off and usage dwindles, the community will not want to pay for it. The vocal minority who made this a reality must stump up when that occurs.

    • The prosperity of other communities with rail trails is greatly enhanced by the increase in the numbers of visitors, especially as they tend to stay and spend their money in the small towns and villages along the trail. Governments at every level and of all persuasions continue to invest in trails because their economic benefits are thoroughly proven.

      The people of Murwillumbah, including ratepayers, are very excited about the imminent start to our trail project and look forward to establishing our town as the northern gateway of the Norther Rivers Rail Trail while Byron Council vacillates. This trail will become iconic. The more we invest in this remarkable opportunity, the better will be our economy.

      Think about what this trail will mean to our descendants in a hundred years time. By then a modern railway supporting speeds of 200 kph will have passed though our region following a route to the Newcastle-Sydney-Woolongong metropolis (colloquially known by then as NSW:NSW) .The planners certainly won’t be interested in a tortuous nineteenth century corridor through the Burringbar Range.

      But as a giant shared public park spanning 130 km right across our region and covering more than 500 hectares? Just WOW! Imagine the difference if the Gold Coast had dedicated a trail running the whole length of the city when the closed their railway in the early nineteen-sixties. The Gold Coast Promenade would have been an absolutely iconic tourist attraction and the Gold Coast a far more livable city than it has become today.

      The difference for us is that now we have this same opportunity right now. Grasp it in both hands for the sake of those who inherit the outcomes what we decide are our priorities.

  2. A new construction of a coastal rail line is being progressed from Queensland into NSW, presently to the Tweed Shire. The rail nay sayers need to ensure that a rail trail is beside the existing rail line or it is likely to be removed when the trains are extended down the coast

    • The discussion about bringing rail from Queensland to Tweed is about light rail, a technology used in high density populations. It is not the beginning of a coastal intercity railway system in NSW.

      But as John says, any future railway would go close the coast where the population growth is happening. It will not go via Murwillumbah and will not use the existing corridor through the Burrinbar Range from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek. It certainly will not use any of the existing rails anywhere.

      A new corridor would take a nearly straight path with curve radii in excess of a kilometre, not the tight sub-400 metre radius bends of the steam age corridor limiting speeds to 60 kph.

    • https://www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/Controls/Meetings/Documents/%5BEO-CM%5D%20NSW%20Long%20Term%20Transport%20Master%20Plan_Attachment_1%20-%20Public%20Transport%20Strategy.pdf
      I wish everyone would read the Tweed Shire Transport Strategy document that has been freely available since 2011 and has been updated to keep up to date with latest public transport trends.
      It states that the future train system will be heavy rail and shall follow the M1 highway corridor from Chinderah to Yelgun , stop flogging a dead horse with dreams of reinstating the old slow meandering steam age alignment line .

  3. Wouldn’t be wise for anyone to hold their breath waiting for Geoff (we’ll get the trains running) Provest to provide a light rail connection from Tweed to the Gold Coast.

    The bikers keep telling people that trains on the Casino to Murwillumbah line would be too slow and people wouldn’t use them. Now they’re saying that Casino and Murwillumbah residents are really looking forward to cycling to work, uni, shopping, medical appointments and the beach, in heat, rain and hail. rather than catching the train as they used to do before dodgy pollies decided to waste over $100 MILLION destroying the train service, and a train line worth billions, for a bike track. This is not an ‘infrastructure boost’-it’s vandalism of valuable publicly owned assets on a massive scale.

    Bike track advocates continually assert that the North Coast population isn’t large enough to justify a train service,(they ignore six million tourists) but is large enough to justify destroying the train line and spending $100+ on a bike track.

    The North Coast is one of the most over promoted and busiest tourist areas in Australia, and doesn’t need, or have room for, any more tourists thank you. What is desperately needed is decent public transport. Which includes a return of train services that reconnect local towns again, and allow visitors and locals to travel to, and around, the region in a more sustainable manner, regardless of the weather conditions.

    The bike track advocates still haven’t twigged that they’re just the trojan horse. If $100 MILLION + white elephant bike track is built and is unused and covered with weeds, the very valuable land will be sold off cheaply to the dodgy pollies mates and there’ll be nothing!

    Brilliant outcome!

    • Rail trail tourism is about getting the tourists out of Byron and into the hinterland towns and villages. The economy of this area depends heavily on tourism and there is plenty of room to expand it outside of the Byron CBD. Towns like Murwillumbah are begging for visitors to keep their economy from stagnation.

      It has been explained over and over again why trains on the existing corridor would only provide services to a tiny minority and would be an incredible extravagance. But rail advocates prefer to repeat their platitudes and misinformation such as the notion that the trail will be a failure and the corridor is going to be sold off.

      The rail trail project is in fact the only reason the corridor has not been sold off as an unused asset. The goal was to keep the corridor in public hands and that has succeeded.

      • There is absolutely no credible evidence that trains on the C-M would service a tiny minority, no matter how ,many times people assert such nonsense. All the available stats clearly show the XPT train did take many thousands of cars off our roads ( it was a very crowded trip during holidays or schoolies week) and returned more to taxpayers than Sydney trains.

        A commuter service on the line, and a rail connection to Coolangatta, which provides public transport for locals and tourists would return even more to taxpayers. Even a free train service would save billions on road building and maintenance.

        The legislation that protected the line was the ONLY thing that prevented the line being ripped up and valuable land along corridor being sold off.

        Now that the dodgy LNP and ALP have again treated the community with contempt and removed that legislation, there’s nothing stopping the government, which we’ve seen sell off just about every other valuable public asset, and GIVING Jamie Packer $ millions worth of harbourside land to build his obnoxious casino, ripping up the line and selling off the valuable rail land. Better still, given their record, the government may gift rail land to a billionaire to build a casino in Byron.

        Wouldn’t that be brilliant!


        • Louise There is no Casino Murwillumbah rail line – it was closed at either end last month. Nor is there any body identified who will fund rail service on the remaining Bentley to Crabbes Creek rail line. The legislation was changed to enable rail trails to be built, and it includes protections to ensure the corridor can only be owned by a public entity. We do not know what legislation will be used to close the remainder of the line. That would depend on whether it is repurposed as a public owned community path, a tourist train or the land is sold or gifted to private interests. NSW Farmers was lobbying to have farmers gifted the New England rail corridor land adjacent to their properties, but the progress with the New England Rail Trail appears to have stopped that land grab. It’s possible some community members next to the rail corridor here will also oppose a rail trail in the hope of getting access to the land.
          As there is no tourist or any other rail proposed in Lismore and the NSW Government has told Byron Shire it will not fund one there, and as the sorry state of the line is uncovered, a tourist rial is unfortunately becoming less and less likely there. So you need to decide if you would rather the corridor be privitised or kept for another public use.


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