Peter Hatfield, Cumbalum
David Lisle’s opinion piece A short history of our rail corridor debate is a good summary of the long history of our efforts to try to open the disused former rail corridor for recreation and tourism. I would add to his history that, like every other transport study in the region that was open to alternatives, the recent draft Byron Shire transport strategy concluded that a rail service was not the best way to meet the public transport needs of the Shire, and it recommended putting in place more regular buses.
The draft study also includes the advice from Transport for NSW that the government will not fund the Shire’s plans to reactivate the rail corridor with a shuttle rail. The Byron Council is still trying to pursue its rail plans, but it has not come forward with any ‘strategy partner’ to fund it and the draft transport plan did not envisage any role for rail over the ten year life of the strategy, so it’s safe to conclude there is no identified funding source.
The Shire’s very consultative process with the community, to develop its PAMP and Bike Plan, resulted in a cycling and walking path along the corridor being placed as Priority A in the Bike Plan. While the government will not fund its rail plans, the Tweed experience shows the Byron Shire would have little trouble getting funding to develop a design and business case for a path along the corridor, and it would again be likely to attract funding to construct it. Such a study could identify where it is feasible to build the path beside the rails as many in the Shire would prefer. I encourage the Byron Shire community to urge their Council to pursue the path they identified as a priority.