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Byron Shire
February 25, 2021

Tweed mayor and rail trail

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Richard White, East Ballina

I watched a Facebook video of Mayor, Chris Cherry, addressing a meeting, organised by the Northern Rivers Rail Company in Murwillumbah on 21 February, to discuss the Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek Rail Trail and how to ‘make the best of a bad situation’.

The mayor made it very clear that at least her and the previous mayor Katie Milne were strong train supporters, under the guise of improving public transport.

The current rail trail community pathway concept has been approved and funded by state and federal governments and the recently passed state legislation guarantees that the corridor can only be used for a community path, and if required, will be resumed by the government for public transport at any time.

Mayor Cherry is on the Rail Trail Steering Committee, and recently addressed the final tenderers. She told the public meeting of railway supporters: ‘I raised the issue in the meeting [of tenderers] there could be more unrest when these works happen, and any contractor should be prepared for that’.

Now it’s one thing to discuss possibilities with tenderers but I feel it is almost a ‘Trumpism’ to repeat that at a public meeting of people opposed to the rail trail concept.

There are local council elections coming up and I would not vote for a ‘leader’ who agitates so forcibly.

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  1. Richard, you’re sounding very out of touch. Milne and Cherry listen to their community and know there is strong support for rail services, just as there always has been. “Unrest” will naturally occur when it’s planned to remove any chance of that happening in the future. It’s not up to Milne or Cherry, the community will do it themselves!
    The rail trail isn’t much of “community path” when using most of it would only suitable to a very small group of people, ie cyclists with the right equipment, fitness and importantly vast amounts of time to kill. That branding feels like a bit of a slap in the face when most locals, myself included, either cannot use it or would have no use at all for it.

    • Rail advocates relentlessly claim to have strong community support. However this is not evident in attendance at their meetings and rallies. For example, at the last meeting at the RSL in Murwillumbah, hardly anyone was under sixty years old. Many of them were the core advocacy people that don’t even live in Tweed Shire. When I have spoken to locals, very few are even aware of the trail project and incredulous when I tell them some are proposing to bring back trains. Most of them are excited by the trail project and believe it will make a huge difference to Murwillumbah

      Far from being only able to be used by the few, experience at other trails indicates they are very popular and used by a wide range of both locals and visitors of all ages and at all levels of fitness. The flat terrain of rail trails makes them very attractive and electric bikes available for hire allow anyone to use them regardless of the level of fitness.

      Nobody would be able to use the railway tracks when they are not in fit condition to run trains. Nobody has proposed how to finance the many tens of millions of dollars required to resurrect the tracks and subsidise the services.

  2. The Tweed Mayor knows the strong feelings locals have f about the need to ‘get the trains running’. It’s one thing for Ballina people to be demanding we all pay for their bike track, they don’t have cope with traffic gridlock and parking problems every day.

    Over 32,000 people have signed (paper petitions-not on-line) for trains since 2004. When train service was closed, local MPs Don Page, Thomas George and Geoff Provest said ‘closure of rail services on this line will particulalry affect the elderly, the disabled, and will create approximately 3,000 extra bus movements on local roads, cause CountryLink and travel centre job losses and create more greenhouse gasses.’ Don Page claimed this rail line is central to our future. In future we’ll need more trains and toruist trains’. They promised to run the six trains a day commuter service on the line the community had been calling fore and start palnning for the rail connection to Queensland.

    They were correct, and the need grows every day. That’s why the community wants to know what changed in the few months before the 2011 election and why did the ‘study’ that emerged in 2013 only assess the cost of returning the more expensive XPT service and not the more cost effective commuter train they’d promised for years? Why did this study ignore the transport needs of 4.6m tourists (now 6m) when the politicians knew we’d need ‘more tourist trains’?

    To be wasting $14.3m plus destroying this valuable infrastructure for 24 ks of bike track for a few fit cyclists who are able to cycle up hills in all weathers, which will end up costing as much as repairing the line for the train services promised, is a wicked waste of taxpayers’ money. They need to be held accountable.

    No wonder thousands of people are very unhappy about this atrocious skulduggery. They can all count and they smell a very large rat.

    • What a disgraceful performance a mayor using what Richard rightly describes as Trump like bullying to discourage contractors from delivering badly needed jobs and income to our region.What sort of democracy is it where the Mayor is apprently aware of potential actions to stop what was agreed to by the majority of her council, and members of our Parliament, including all but one local member from our region. and does nothing about it? Threats from a group whose rail dreams were roundly rejected by over 80% of voters in the Tweed electorate and the majority in Lismore.
      And what nonsense to suggest a path that any local who can walk or ride an ordinary bike will be able to use, will not be popular in such beautiful place as ours.
      Mayor Cherry and the rail lobby have nothing to offer the community except a continuation of the overgrown disused now closed corridor. It’s time for her to stop making threats and allow contractors to get on with building the rail trail, opening our public land to those who will use it for recreation, jobs and community benifit, while keeping it in public ownership for any future transport use.

    • The petitions Louise refers to from 2004 are incredibly stale. Like many people, I signed my name on one before I knew anything about the issues. Many of the names on those petitions would be repeated and many of those who signed are no longer living.

      Since then the line has deteriorated while the reasons it would be a very expensive luxury for a tiny minority have become evident.

  3. How telling that you dismiss this bullying of contractors to try and stop the rail trail as “unhappy people” concerned about some skullduggery that you are never able to clarify. It’s nothing but baseless innuendo from desperate group that cannot accept the will of the majority of our parliament, local members, and council and the voters in both electorates.
    There is no train and there is not going be one. You might think it’s OK to go out and disrupt jobs and incomes of local workers and contractors, but all you are doing it for is to leave the corridor land unused. That is all you have to offer the people of Tweed, our region and our visitors. As someone who supported the protests over forests and participated in the apartheid protests, I’m sorry but I have to remark, what a sad goal it is that you have : unused land, rusted useless rails and exotic weeds.


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