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Byron Shire
January 19, 2022

Regional areas missing out on rail 

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Beth Shelley, Booerie Creek

Last week the NSW parliament passed a Bill to close sections of the Casino to Murwillumbah railway line for a rail trail, which is a huge loss to the Northern Rivers.

We have been consistently told, for years, that we don’t have the population to cover the cost of repair to our railway line. Although public transport doesn’t pay for itself in Sydney.

Rural and regional areas have low populations because the land is needed in order to grow food. It is unfair to expect people to live in rural areas without the same access to services as the city. For decades we’ve seen the loss of government departments and services [to rural and regional areas].

Ross Gittins ([ITAL]SMH, No ‘bang for buck’, Budget is big on political correctness, weak on job creation) says that the best way to stimulate the economy is with direct spending on locally made goods and services and infrastructure. Liberal governments prefer user pays systems supporting big companies and shareholders. ‘Money you transfer to a firm or individual may be saved rather than spent’ so therefore it’s not stimulating the economy.

Our community misses out on services, the economy gets weaker, and the rich get richer. In future we need to vote against politicians who want to take away our services. The parliament has closed the Casino to Bentley section and the Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek section. Now it’s up to Richmond Valley and Tweed councils to decide whether to rip up the railway tracks or put the rail trail beside the track. Let’s tell them what we want. Keep the railway track for the future.

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  1. A decrepit 19th century railway track on a tortuous low speed alignment that doesn’t connect where most people live to where they need to travel has no future. It would only be useful to a tiny minority who lived at selected locations along the corridor even if the hundreds of millions of dollars required to resurrect the infrastructure and the tens of millions of dollars in losses operating the services were spent. It would be an incredible waste of money.

    There is no sense in making an expensive, futile attempt to build a third rate rail trail beside the formation just for the rails to continue corroding into two long piles of rust. Many of the cuttings and embankments are too narrow for a second formation to be included for the trail. There is no alternative for the tunnels, especially the 500 metre long tunnel passing over 100 metres under the Burringbar Range.

    The vast earthworks required for a second formation would be prohibitively expensive and result in the destruction of countless thousands of trees that current line the verges of the corridor, destroying much of the amenity of the trail and the shade they would otherwise provide.

  2. Beth

    The Government has closed the Casino to Bentley and Condong to Crabbes Creek rail line because it has no intention of funding rail services along any part of the former Casino Condong line for the foreseeable future (while recognising the community’s wish to protect the corridor for future transport use). Labor strongly supported that decision. Councils are pushing ahead with what they have asked funding for and what governments have funded: a world class rail trail to be enjoyed by people of all ages, locals and visitors. We do not need to have any more delays from those who do not accept what governments and councils have decided.

    It is absurd to suggest the area has missed out on services.The Government is just completing the largest road project in Australia to provide safe travel south from our area, it has funded tens of millions of road repairs in Richmond Valley and Byron Shires, and just announced 450 new bus services in the region.

    And what nonsense to suggest a rail trail favours large companies. It is an ideal small scale construction activity for smaller firms and already Lennox Head consultancy group Planit Consulting has created a fantastic master plan for the Casino to Bentley section of the rail trail. And the beneficiaries on completion are small local business and employees providing accommodation, food and beverages,local transport and cycling services to the walkers and riders who use . By contrast the only beneficiary of not building the rail trial would be John Holland, contracted to “maintain” the unused corridor.

    It is time Beth to recognise that communities here do not want an unused corridor of weeds any more ; they want to see it put to a community use for us to benefit from and enjoy, and sooner rather than later.


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