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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

Rail Trail or nothing!

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We love to receive letters, but not every letter will be published; the publication of letters is at the discretion of the online and print letters editors.

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Neil McKenzie, Bangalow

David Lisle’s article A short history of our rail corridor debate summed up succinctly and accurately the compelling case for a rail trail, the lack of a case for ‘bringing the train back’ and the absurdity of the ‘multimodal fantasies’ for the disused rail corridor.

Byron Council is in danger of becoming a laughing stock, both locally and nationally, because of its dithering and intransigence. Three other councils have got behind the project with the result that eventually Byron Shire will have a rail trail approaching from both directions, with a dead zone in the middle, while they fantasise about multimodal wizardry.

The rail trail, when completed, with or without Byron, will be one of the best in the world and will attract different kinds of tourists, as well as being a transport option for locals. It will open up the hinterland areas and spread the tourist dollar more widely. It will also provide a spine from which other walking/cycling trails can radiate. With the popularity of e-bikes now more people will have it available to them. It is a winner on every level and Byron Council would be very foolish not to rethink its position, jump on board with the other councils, and back this fabulous project.

There are only two options: a rail trail or nothing.

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  1. “Multimodal wizardry”? “Multimodal fantasies”? Byron’s plan is nothing of the kind. It’s rather simple and not at all impossible, putting the trail beside the tracks. Independent study has confirmed it is entirely possible and the combination of modes could be an even greater attraction. Retaining the rails only leaves the door open for future transport opportunities, so it is barely a bad thing. I don’t believe many will use the rail trail on bikes as “transport for locals” as for the most part that isn’t practical. All the negativity and close-mindedness put forth in the above letter strikes me as odd. We need not limit ourselves to one option, and decisions regarding the rail corridor shouldn’t be rushed. I see multi-use as a very positive and innovative project, something that perfectly suits the Shire. We’d be best working out any issues and charting a way forward for this plan. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

  2. The same arguments against a rail trail have been put ad nauseum to every proposal here in NSW, in Victoria, in New Zealand & overseas, but every jurisdiction claims it is unique and what works somewhere, anywhere else, won’t work in our area, but strangely enough they have worked, and worked well.
    Yes, a cycle/ walking/linear recreation trail beside rail is a great idea and has been proposed in other jurisdictions in NSW when a new rail corridor was being built, but to retro fit on a corridor that is doomed for use as a modern rail corridor is not feasible.
    Tumbarumba Railway Corridor celebrates its Centenary in March, but it has not seen a train since 1974, almost half of its lifetime. Yes a few repairs to a few dozen bridges and replacing the entire rail line from Wagga to Tumbarumba, along with a bridge or underpass serving the crossing of four lanes of the Hume Highway would enable a century old train with four wheeled carriages to operate, but good luck putting an Xplorer. let alone an XPT on the line. In the meantime there is a corridor that can be used as a passive recreational facility begging to be developed for the benefit of your community and it can happen in less than a year.

    • Unfortunately Byron won’t have a trail for several years because of the intransigence of their councillors. Millions of dollars more will be squandered on this pipe dream before the reality hits that running buses with train wheels on a decrepit line where one in 25 sleepers has been replaced is patently ridiculous.

      Byron ratepayers should be very afraid as their council progresses steadily towards a project that will eventually reach a point where so much has been spent that they can’t stop. The Mary Valley Rattler has already cost Gympie Council over ten million dollars and they have an open ended commitment to keep it running for another two years, whatever the cost. This year that amounted to about a million dollars more thrown at a project that has perpetually lost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year since it started.

      The people of Byron have once chance in September to rid themselves of the likes of Basil Cameron or they will reach 2025 and be asking why there are still no trains, no trail and no money for anything else.


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