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September 25, 2021

Rail trail

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Peter Finch, East Lismore

At last someone else has put their hand up to question the fluffery and misinformation surrounding rail trails (Chris Sheridan, (Letter, 3 February) Mr/Ms Sheridan has noted that the style the Northern Rivers Rail Trail collective use to present their case is sheer public relations spin and totally devoid of facts.

Byron Shire Council have an asset on their hands that can give so much back to the wider community, hence their Multi Use of the Railway Corridor plan. A rail + trail corridor will provide a means for bike riders to travel between towns within the Shire. But for those who visit Byron to relax and take in some scenery, visit a hinterland village, and get away from the Byron bustle, a rail-based operation offers so much.

Operating as a tourist service it would be expected that fares would be fixed to reflect the business costs and returns required. It’s highly unlikely that a private rail operator would gain approval to provide local services on the Murwillumbah branch line when the state government subsidises local bus fares.

A well-planned sustainably powered light rail vehicle service can take day-trippers from a park-and-ride station at Tyagarah to Mullumbimby or into Byron and out to Bangalow. Then three per cent of visitors to Byron Bay who claim sightseeing is their key activity while visiting can add local tourism to movie-star spotting and window shopping.


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1 COMMENT

  1. Peter Finch does not tell us what spin the Northern Rivers Rail Trail “collective” has put forward. Aside from the short Byron Train the Northern Rivers rail corridor had not been used since 2004. Construction is starting shortly on stages one and two of the rail trail, and the business cases for both are based on the benifits found from comparable rail trails in other places in Australia. No one has come forward with any proposal to fund any other rail service on the corridor, and that includes funding for a rail service as part of Byron Shire’s MURC. I invite Peter Finch or any other reader to advise who will fund a rail service on it.
    None of that is spin. The former Northern Rivers rail corridor is unused. NRRT had always stated it wants to put that disused former corridor land to an alternative public use – a walking and cycling path – while keeping it in public ownership.

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