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Byron Shire
March 4, 2021

Tim Shanasy, Byron Bay

Latest News

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A development application for the mobile Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital is now before the public.

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Rail Trail gets the GO!

Whilst our derelict rail corridor gives a massive sigh of relief after 16 years of disuse, because a growing section of our community has fought to see it be truly loved again, the dissenters and proponents of ongoing disuse via hopelessly unrealistic dreams of reinstating the 130 year old railline go on and on.

Yes, the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line has a magnificent history of spearheading real progress in our region’s early times, but its single, narrow and slow track can now only offer us all a glimpse of its glorious hard earned history, via a modern and achievable rail trail, for all to witness in its gorgeous natural surrounds.

It has been very disappointing to the corridor’s carers, to observe the persistent and false claims by the pro-rail groups, that the rail trail visionaries, are ‘land grabbers’ and ‘elite cyclists’! These are patently untrue slurs.

The NRRT (Northern Rivers Rail Trail) group has been a voluntary, dedicated bunch of people from diverse backgrounds with the simple goal of getting our corridor back into social use, for all to enjoy. Their aim is to achieve this whilst helping to provide an economic boost to our region, in showcasing our corridor to us locals, and the world alike, and creating interesting jobs for our young people.

It becomes clear to anyone who has actually walked many parts of the corridor, that ‘putting the trail beside the track’ is utter nonsense for the majority of its 130kms length. This is for the many reasons that the dissenters remain doggedly deaf to: the many steep cuttings, steeply raised formations, narrow bridges, tunnels, complex high rainfall drainage systems, flood plains, etc.

Even if it were physically possible, there would be massive safety issues if the trail ran beside the train infrastructure.

The NSW lower and upper houses have both seen the truths, they have cut through the unrealistic dreams, and have voted for the Rail Trail to proceed in two short lengths at both ends of the corridor. This will also ensure they will remain firmly in public ownership and be available in the future, for any public transport use, and if future governments see this as necessary, there will be no point in keeping the old infrastructure.

As Ben Franklin MLC, stated during the legislation debate, ‘If a train [service] ever was to come back on that corridor, the infrastructure would have to be updated. But likely, no government will reinstate the train on that corridor… more likely along the coast instead’.

The rail trail would have to go, if it was deemed necessary to put a train on the corridor again. At least the corridor would still be there, and cleared!

The rail trail will offer custodianship of the corridor, to protect it for any future [public] transport use, to maintain it as a wildlife corridor, and to make sure it stays in public hands.

The NSW government vote is a win for the corridor, both for rail trails and for future public transport. Let’s celebrate these wins.


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Tim your pragmatic writings are refreshing but the staunch nostalgic slow train buffs will keep saying that trains will get people out of cars , go thanks the continual spreading of information.

    Buses can pick you up from almost your front door step and drop you almost at your destination. Catching a train requires either walking/car/taxi/bus to a station , waiting for train and at the other end you will again looking for a taxi/bus/car to deliver you at your final destination. The Northern Rivers line was built in 1894 for movement of milk and other agricultural products every day of the week and as a plus had passenger trains running on weekends. The railway was built in the steam age era when all the train had to compete against was horses . The trip from Casino to Murwillumbah took 2hrs 45min for many years until most of the stations closed . The final few years it only stopped at Mullumbimby, Byron Bay and Lismore . Keeping people in cars was and always will be easy with the slow meandering Northern Rivers line but luckily we have Tweed Shire Council who have written into their Transport Strategy document that the future train system will be running beside the M1 highway corridor with stations at all the off ramps . None of this nostalgic slow train will sway state governments to invest in heritage tourist trains as they are financially unviable

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