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December 3, 2022

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Chris Sheridan, Ewingsdale

Before you believe the arguments for or against the rail line, it is very important that you look at the way the advantages/disadvantages were represented in David Lisle’s recent opinion piece ‘A short history of our rail corridor debate’ (13 January). Good spin doctors can give you whatever results you’d like by manipulating the way information is presented. Sir Humphrey Appleby demonstrates this point most aptly to Bernard in Yes Prime Minister (BBC TV).

Public transport in regional locations is sparse, apart from routes supported by school runs and supported government services – getting around is virtually impossible without access to private transport.

Byron Bay and its surrounding villages have now caused a lot of the service industry workers to locate out of these locations as rental and purchase prices soar.

Finding a solution to easing congestion into Byron Bay’s road network would seem to be a priority, along with a vehicle that could visit local villages on a short rail network, thus easing traffic congestion.

It would be difficult to justify the entire rail line reopening, even on an economic basis, but opening sections would be plausible, i.e. Byron to Mullumbimby (15.6km) and Bangalow (12.9km).

Not everyone rides a bike, or wants to. A transport corridor is for the whole community, not one section of it. With a rail trail – who pays, who is accountable for biosecurity, maintenance and liability issues?

With a train it’s user pays, and government contributions for regional public transport solutions.


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  1. With trains, particularly in sparsely populated rural areas, it is not “user pays”. They are mostly paid by the public purse with a small contribution by passengers, especially the when most of those who say they would use a train are concession holders paying $2.50 fares.

    NSW Transport has already indicated they will not contribute to resurrecting the tracks or running trains in Byron Shire. There are no prospects for funding the repairs required or buying the rolling stock, let alone anyone being prepared to lose millions of dollars per year operating services.

    Trains on the corridor would have negligible effect on the traffic congestion. Most of the people calling for trains to “get cars off the road” are thinking about there being more room for them on the road and have no intention of giving up the convenience of their own cars.

  2. The arguments for a rail service were considered by the consultants for Byron’s Integrated transport strategy and rejected it in favour of better bus services. The NSW Government too is focusing on improving bus services, targeting the growing older population of public transport dependent households in coastal areas in Tweed and Ballina. Every study that considers alternatives finds that you can provide more services and more regular services, to more destinations in our decentralized area, by improving road based transport.
    I doubt the Byron Shire ratepayers would want to go down the path of the ACT and pay additional rates of the order of $10,000 per household for a light rail on an existing corridor l equivalent to the Bay to Mullum distance. A private “strategic partner’ has not been found. That leaves the rail corridor sitting indefinitely as as unused land .
    A path for walking and cycling along the disused corridor is not proposed as an alternative to public transport and would be funded from tourism, recreation and similar regional development funds. The majority of the population walk and or cycle and and such a path was identified as priority A in the Byron PAMP and Bike Plan consultations with locals. . Byron Shire claims the path along the corridor can be built beside the rails it would like to retain, a path would be likely to be funded, so it has no reason not to join other LGAs and seek funding to clear the corridor and put together a business case for the path.

  3. At last someone else has put their hand up to question the fluffery and misinformation surrounding rail trails (Chris Sheridan, Echo, 03 February 2021.) Mr/Ms Sheridan has noted the style the Northern River’s 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 3% of visitors to Byron Bay who claim sightseeing is their key activity can add local tourism to movie-star spotting and window shopping.


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