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Byron Shire
June 21, 2021

Work together?

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Lydia Kindred, Rosebank

Responding to letters written recently to The Echo, some stated that it is the preference of many in the Shire to build the bike path beside the rails and, I believe, this is indeed true.

Our ‘deficit of public transport’ is well known and those who visit our region are amazed that we’re not using our rail infrastructure, which is largely in very good condition, and so needed.

The reason that ‘most people believe that the train was not going to come back to the Casino to Murwillumbah corridor’ is because of a propaganda exercise fostered by the state government and aided by a dodgy ARUP study that said it would cost $7.25 million per km to fix up the line. I believe this is obviously crazy when the Byron Solar Train only cost $660,000 per km.

The long-term diverting of funds meant for our line to the main line, as well as previously very profitable passenger and freight services being scrapped for an XPT service that only came here late at night, so that not many people used it, were major contributors to the demise of the rail service.

A new dedicated company has been registered called Northern Rivers Rail Ltd, a not-for-profit volunteer-based public company, aiming to raise sufficient funds to restore the line to allow rail services with a bike trail beside them.

For those who want rail, the time has come to support us. Join us to raise funds, volunteer, and resurrect our valuable rail corridor. Our line can be for joint usage with bike trail enthusiasts. If the tracks are demolished, as planned by Tweed Shire and Richmond Valley councils this year, the rail system will be lost forever. Contact [email protected]. Member subscription $20 per year.

As there has been no community consultation, as was required by law, we are now representing the people, as the community needs a voice! Jobs, the economy, those who need comfortable transport throughout the Northern Rivers, and the environment, will all benefit.


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6 COMMENTS

  1. “[The track] is largely in very good condition”? Where did Lydia get that gem?

    In the Multiuse Report for Byron Council, Arcadis only claimed the tracks were “in reasonable condition” though they never defined what was meant by “reasonable”. They did conclude that it was not feasible to reintroduce even light rail (eg the 70 tonne Byron Solar Train) due to the condition of the tracks.

  2. Work Together? After years of railway advocates telling everyone how nobody would use the “fail trail”, how it would be too hot, too boring, too expensive , a burden on councils and slinging vile verbal abuse at trail supporters?

    Now the tide of public opinion and process has turned heavily toward the trail, rail advocates have no choice but to try to negotiate. Meanwhile they make accusations of trail advocates having an unwillingness to “compromise” for a “win-win” outcome. Their idea of compromise is keeping the tracks in pride of place on the formation while an inferior trail is scratched in the grunge at the edge of the corridor or spending millions on plastic decking that would become an enormous toxic conflagration the first time a bush fire came through. Compromise means both sides making concessions and I don’t see them making any.

    And for what? So the trail volunteers can then keep their precious rails clear of vegetation for years waiting for trains that will never come? There is only one place to put the trail and that is on the formation.

    As for their “rail company” it was formed as a desperate 13th hour attempt to stand in the way of the trail after the trail project had been commenced. They don’t even have the money to build a business plan let alone reconstruct a railway.

  3. Greg, you must have be coming late to the party. It was the rail advocates who wanted a dual solution years ago, but the rail trail lobby wanted always all. Jens Krause

    • Greg’s comment stands. The rail lobby has spent years denigrating the rail trial, its potential use and benefits, but if it suggested it be done beside the rails suddenly the evidenced objections evaporate. Either you believe your rhetoric or you don’t.
      And if the rail supporters and the Byron Shire believe there rhetoric that it can be built beside the Byron Line than stop telling us it’s possible and show us it is possible in Byron Shire . Tweed and Richmond Valley show they could get funding for a corridor path, and it was identified as as a priority A in the Byron bike plan, but when it was put to them last year they got cold feet .
      If it is feasible to build it beside the rails just do it.

  4. Lydia
    The reason that we believe that the train was not going to come back to the Casino to Murwillumbah corridor has nothing to with propaganda, but because:
    . The Government has been advising since it concluded that will not bring back trains, that they do not meet the transport needs for our region, and it has focused on funding improved bus and services instead.
    . Every report and strategy and survey on transport in the region that has considered both road and rail options , recommends improving road transport, not rail including not just ARUP, but also the Tweed transport strategy, the Sustain Northern Rivers Transport Survey 2013 , Northern Rivers Social Development Council submission into access to transport for seniors and disadvantaged people in regional NSW, and the consultant’s draft Byron Shire integrated Transport Strategy.
    . Transport for NSW has advised Byron Shire it will not fund its tourist focused rail
    . There is no longer a Casino to Murwillumbah rail line. It was closed at either end by the Parliament with the support of Labor, leaving a Bentley to Crabbes Creek line.
    No one else has come forward with the hundreds of millions needed to restore the rails and implement a rail service from Bentley to Crabbes Creek . The engineer responsible for the Byron train, the late Geoff Clarke was very clear that it should not be used to estimate the cost of restoration of other parts of the line. At even Geoff’s the lowest estimates ,the so called railway company would need to find millions of shareholders to raise the funds.
    A path along the corridor is a priority A in the Byron Shire Bike Plan, and the Tweed shows the Government is willing to fund the design and business case, and the clearing of the corridor and construction, even with the option for a bid for a path beside the rails. If rail supporters believed their own trail beside rail rhetoric , the rail lobby would have pushed Byron Shire to build the path beside the rails without delay and Byron Shire would accepted the advice of Council staff and passed the motion to clear the corridor and build the path first. Similarly, if the rail lobby had thought it possible to find enough people to fund its rail dreams, it would have established its railway company as soon as Byron Shire opened the possibility of a tourist focused shuttle rail that locals could use.

    The creation of this “company” at this late stage, just as construction has started on the rail trail, leaves wide open that it is nothing more than an attempt to stall and stop construction of the rail trail, and a stalling tactic to prevent Lismore Council from getting funding for the rail trail, which the Lismore community identified as one of its top three priorities for recreation funding.

    I am sorry but the rail lobby cannot deliver a train and has nothing to offer the Northern Rivers community except a continuation of rusted rails on an overgrown vacant unused former rail corridor.

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