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Byron Shire
October 17, 2021

Taxpayers paying through the nose for the destruction of Casino to Murwillumbah train line

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On 14 January, 2015 The Echo comment ‘Railroaded’ quoted Don Page’s (Nationals then MP for Ballina) 2004 comments on the closure of the XPT train service on the Casino to Murwillumbah branch line after he’d done a massive backflip:

‘It (closure of the XPT service) is short sighted because the far north coast is a rapidly growing area and this infrastructure is central to our future. In future we will need more, not fewer, trains. We will need more commuter services and more tourist trains; we need to connect into the Queensland system. The removal of the service by the government will mean the line will fall into disrepair. That, in turn will mean all those opportunities will be lost to us’.

He was absolutely right, and later announced $100m funding for a six-trains-per-day commuter service. Given the rapid growth in population and tourism in the region this train line is now even more ‘central to our future’.

In 2009 Tweed MP Geoff Provest (Nationals) told the Tweed Border Mail that the ‘NSW (ALP) government has missed an opportunity to secure federal funds on offer for major infrastructure projects which could ensure an extension of the line from Casino to Murwillumbah via Byron Bay and across the border to the Gold Coast airport’. Right again.

In the same article the then Minister for Transport, David Campbell, was quoted: ‘I understand engineering consultants estimated that the costs involved in opening the line, principally replacement of wooden bridges, would be approximately $120.8m’.

It’s obvious from the above that the community has been calling for, and promised, commuter trains, not the return of the XPT, and it’s a complete furphy to include it as an ‘option’. After years of promising a six-trains-per-day commuter service on the C-M line, and stating more tourist trains would be needed, the community wants to know why the LNP government’s $2m 2013 ARUP ‘study’ only assessed the cost of returning the more expensive XPT service? Why, despite politicians expressing the need for more tourist trains, did their study make no mention of tourists?

Destroying the line for a bike track was not on the agenda until the monumental LNP backtrack on promises a few months before the 2011 election. Given the long, hot, humid, and wet summers, no consideration is given to the possibility that an expensive bike track could become an expensive white elephant for financially struggling local councils, as they have elsewhere. 

It’s distressing and mystifying to so many locals, including over 30,000 people who have signed (paper, not online) petitions, attended many large rallies and meetings over so many years calling for Trains On Our Tracks, why The Echo is now printing so many pages of unsubstantiated rubbish about this valuable piece of public infrastructure. To locals who’ve done years of meticulous research, the comments from a transport analyst from Melbourne appear to be straight from the rail trail propaganda used by the above politicians to justify their back track on promises (Echo, 17 February).

It may surprise your analyst to hear that the Gold Coast Motorail, which ran at times convenient for locals to travel around the region, was so well patronised it cost $11m per year to run but returned $22m. Which demonstrates train services that serve the needs of the local community can be profitable.

The worn-out comment ‘who’s going to pay for the trains’ is completely irrelevant. All train services are paid for by taxpayers, including Sydney services used by wealthy people, and the tiny fares they pay. We all contributed to $500m of federal funding for the Gold Coast light rail. What the ‘analyst’ fails to recognise, or quantify, is the cost to taxpayers, and the environment, of the traffic gridlock and parking problems destroying our once beautiful paradise.

Taxpayers should be asking are we getting value for our money? So far it’s cost taxpayers $24m for the three kilometre Byron by-pass, and $2m plus for a bus station, both next to the train line and empty train station. Then there’s the $78m we’re told it will cost to modify the Byron exit on the M1 to try and move dangerous traffic gridlock off the highway. Add the estimated $100m cost over seventeen years of several large coaches that replaced the train service. That’s a total of $204m spent on one short section of road – and empty coaches! Makes the 2009 cost of $120.8m for repairs to the 132kms of train line for a train service for this ‘fast growing area’, and six million tourists, look like chicken feed. 

All taxpayers are paying for the 24km first stage of 132 kilometres of bike track on the line from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek; which is costing $14.3m, or $596,000 per kilometre for a few fit cyclists who are able to cycle uphill in all weathers. That’s not good value for taxpayers when repairs to three kilometres of train line in Byron to run a train accessible to all cost just $660,000 per kilometre.

But locals know what the criminal destruction of this valuable line is really about. As Minister Campbell told parliament in 2009, removing the legislation that protected the line would ‘enable the (rail) corridors to be cleared of this remnant infrastructure (our rail line) and revenue to be obtained from its sale’. Given the rapid increase in land values in the region since that time, there’s even greater imperative for politicians to cash in and ‘obtain revenue’. 

It’s time these dodgy politicians, who are using eyewatering amounts of our money as their own personal piggy bank for zero benefit to our community, were held to account. We used to think that was The Echo’s mission. Apparently not.

 

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24 COMMENTS

  1. Please Louise, don’t berate the Echo for presenting a range of views and data on this issue. I would have thought that was the role of a local media outlet. It’s possible that no amount of argument or evidence will likely sway TOOT or NORAG from their positions but that doesn’t mean the general community should be deprived of the opportunity to come to the most informed conclusions on monies expended on our behalf or the benefits available to us from alternatives.

    While it’s easy to dismiss any opposing views as “propaganda” and “unsubstantiated rubbish” it does leave open the way to responses about pots and kettles.

    • I’m all for fair and balanced reporting. But when people make untruthful claims, they need to be called out. One example, among others, is when David Lisle wrote “the community was slow to react to the branch lines closure”. I’m sorry but that’s just utterly false. I’m all for balanced reporting, but I’m firmly against history being rewritten and the truth being distorted.

      • The last train on the line ran in May 2004. The final report that ruled a line under the future of the line was released in May 2012.
        Northern Rivers Railway Action Group wasn’t registered until until May 2015, eleven years after the last train. They have done little more than lament the loss of the train and collect signatures on petitions, most of which are now thoroughly stale. They have not published any studies into the issues involved, providing nothing more than hearsay to try and support their claims.

        The line was formally closed and dedicated as a trail in September 2020. Northern Rivers Rail Inc wasn’t registered until December 2020. They have collected membership of $20 each from some old age pensioners and pretend they are going to lease the line to run train services. They don’t even have the money for a business plan let alone any idea where they would get the hundreds of millions of dollars required to resurrect the decrepit tracks, replace the missing bridges and buy rolling stock.

        BTW Northern Rivers Rail Trail was registered in June 2013 and has steadily been working towards its goals ever since. Many tens of thousands of dollars have been raised through crowd funding to pay for the business cases. Vast amounts of in kind contributions have gone into engineering reports on the condition of the line and bridges. This is why the trail is going ahead.

        • David was referring to the time of closure itself, but it seems both of you have very poor (or perhaps selective) memory.
          The campaign to return rail has been ongoing since before closure in 2004, right though to now. It certainly did not just spring up five years ago.

          Both yourself and David seem to forget the numerous protests and community rallies that occurred leading up to, during, and after the last trains. To quote David directly: “The community was slow to react to the branch line’s closure, probably because of its trifling impact. A few train activists briefly waved placards and intoned slogans. Then the guns fell silent.” I’m sorry, but that’s just utterly untrue. David clearly wasn’t in this region at the time, I struggle to understand how else he has got this so wildly, wildly wrong.

          You both forget 2004 speeches made by Jenny Dowell, Don Page, Thomas George, Larry Anthony and numerous other high-profile individuals attesting the importance of rail, the validity of the rail service, and the need for it to be retained. There were a number of these events right up and down the line, not to mention a number of community protests with hundreds of people. Many of these people said the same things as the last train departed. There were very strong signs of community resistance to the closure of rail, with hundreds of people protesting and speaking out. I find it bizarre you and David seem to have forgotten that one? Rather strange indeed. There’s not even any point denying it. All of it was televised and reported on heavily. It’s all out there available to watch on the internet.
          The campaign for rail didn’t stop there. It has continued since 2004 with many protests, petitions, rallies etc since all calling for its return, with these all well received by the community. TOOT has been advocating consistently since the line closed. I’m not sure what relevance NRRAG being formed in 2015 has to anything, when the campaign has been gong since before services ceased. As the threat of the rail infrastructure being lost becomes greater, naturally more people will want to take action against it.

          Come to think of it, there were even protests in 1991 when the decision was made to introduce the XPT and kill off the profit-making, well-timetabled Motorail. Even then, people saw the once-a-night XPT as a step backwards and worried it was the start of a gradual decline in service. They were right. So technically Greg, you could say rail activism in this area goes back nearly 30 years.

          Both yourself and David seem to have very short and wildly inaccurate memories. You yourself have just completely misrepresented history in your comment. You trying to belittle the rail campaign down to something that started five years ago is utterly inaccurate, disingenuous, deceptive and just plain dodgy. You do not do yourself or your credibility any favours!

          Frankly, I find it disrespectful and I’m sure everyone who has been protesting all these years will too. You have shown yourself to have little regard for history or the truth, belittle community effort, and you have proven you will say anything to deceive people so you can get your bike track! Honestly disgusting.

        • Bizarrely, Greg an David Lisle seem to be having a bit of difficulty remembering all the community action that has occurred since 2004 on this. Here’s a link that well documents the rallies and protests that occurred across the region before, during and after the last train. See and hear the people speaking, then listen to the concerned pleas of locals. Then tell me again how only a handful of people cared about the loss of the service?

          https://fb.watch/41rNJca64R/

          I can only assume David and Greg are newbies to this area or weren’t in this region when the line closed. I struggle to understand how else they have got this so spectacularly wrong!

          • Assumptions often lead to incorrect conclusions. I simply posted some dates of interest. I have lived in the Tweed Shire for over forty years and I have even caught the train once.

            Regardless of how it started out, fact is that the numbers involved in protests continue to dwindle to a few people with an extraordinary sense of entitlement that makes them think vast sums of public funds should be spent providing luxury public transport for a tiny minority.

            The train has gone and won’t be coming back. Go catch a bus.

          • I seem to recall that there has long been a protest group lobbying for the return of the rail service. I was initially sympathetic but in the years since the line closed we have had the advent of cheap flights and a Ballina airport which together have made the XPT service much less attractive. In addition the demographics of the area has seen the shift in population density move continually further away from the train route.

            But I’m really unconcerned about the provenance of the protest groups as this is clearly the least pertinent of all the issues raised by David Lisle. If this is the only area of contention then there is indeed a slim case for the likelihood of the rails resurrection.

  2. Thank you Louise, you are spot on. It always puzzled me how much hatred towards the rail supporters have been expressed by the trail supporters. It is almost like they have been paid to do it. We need walking and biking trails around where we live, work and go to school. There are no footpaths along the most of this shire’s roads. It is extremely unsafe to do any pedestrian activities along McGettigan’s Lane for example. It is surprising that the walking trail supporters seem to be only interested in the railway corridor and are silent about the need to create walking and bike ridding infrastructure anywhere else. As Richard Staples pointed out: if we lose even 1 percent of the railway corridor, no train or light rail nor electric bus solution will be available in future. The precedents for selling the railway land are there and the walking trail cover will allow for many creative leases, which in turn will make the dream of bringing the trains back unattainable indeed.

  3. Yet another hysterical letter from Louise Doran pretending a railway that doesn’t even connect to the places most Byron visitors come from would solve the traffic problems. Visitors are not going to drive most of the way then wait for a slow expensive irregular train to complete their journey into town, then risk missing the last train back to their car.

    Taxes paid toward providing a train used by a tiny minority does not represent a good investment. Our elected representatives decide where the tax money is spent and they have decided to to invest in the rail trail. Louise is clearly extremely bitter about that decision and is now even taking it out on the Echo for presenting both sides of the discussion. We should be very wary of those who seek to limit the freedom of the press as it is a cornerstone of democracy.

    Her comment about “a few fit cyclist who are able to cycle uphill” shows she is completely uninformed. One of the big attractions of rail trails, apart from their separation from dangerous traffic, is their very gentle gradients, allowing people at any fitness level to travel substantial distances at considerable speed. With an electric bike, anyone can easily travel continuously at 25 kph on a rail trail.

    Then she resorts to the same tired rhetoric about alleged corruption and the complete bunkum about the corridor being sold because of the trail. The rail trail legislation for the already converted sections of the corridor explicitly state that the corridor must remain in public ownership. Let’s hope Byron Council gets something substantial happening with their section before it does get sold off, under the “use it or lose it” policy indicated by Regional Development NSW in 2016.

    • The legislation protecting the line from sale or, a 99 year lease, has been removed. That’s the whole point of this rail trail rubbish. When so many state politicians have been found corrupt, or are presently being investigated by ICAC, most sensible people would not trust this government, or the opposition, with their petty cash, let alone a rail corridor worth billions.

      • The “99 year lease” myth is the latest red herring from railway advocates, like the “it will be sold off” scare campaign they relied on for years and is still dragged out by some like Louise who appears increasingly out of touch with reality. They fail to mention the legislation permits leases “for recreation, tourism or community and related purposes only”. See Clause 230 (1). The terms of any lease would need to be agreed upon by both parties. Nobody is going to make a 99 year commitment.

        In fact, Tweed Shire Council will not be issuing leases, but making space available under a licencing model with no long term rights. No permanent structures will be permitted. All structures must be on wheels.

        Louise goes on to use unconscionable innuendo in an attempt to tarnish the reputations of all politicians by grossly overstating the extent of investigations into corruption. There is absolutely no evidence for any illegal or unethical behaviour related to the dedication of the corridor for a rail trail. The most unethical action I have witnessed is Chris Cherry’s explicit threat to the prospective contractors that they will confronted with civil unrest if they pursue the on-formation design. Many now rightly consider her not worthy of holding public office.

      • No one had proposed funding a rail service on the former Murwillumbah Casino railway line. The legislation that closed the lines included provisions that allow the sale of the land only to another public authority, including a Council. In the unlikely event that Byron Shire can get a strategic partner interested funding for its multi use of the rial corridor with a tourist shuttle rail, the Government has advised line will be closed. In that case Byron Shire one would imagine the it would need to offer any operator a generous lease period to ensure their large investment in the project was worthwhile.

    • That’s false. Look at a map Greg. The line connects Bangalow, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby, Ocean Shores and the major festival sites. It goes through all of the most popular tourist hotposts in the Shire. The 2.2 million tourists Byron sees each year, plus all the locals, can barely be described as a “minority”.
      There’s also no reason why any train would always be “slow”. The track route is actually very good. At the time of closure train travel times between towns were pretty much the same as today’s road equivalent. That was also done over wooden bridges that imposed speed restrictions, so with the upgrade of these trains could be even faster. Byron to Mullum was done in about 10 minutes; no road will ever be able to achieve that, especially when you consider congestion. While Byron Council initially propose to run 40-60km/h operations on the existing infrastructure (little to no repair required for said speed), that speed can always get faster in the future with infrastructure repair and upgrade.

      Louise was quite right that to fully utilise the trail you need to be fit. There would be little shade and water along the route, so good fitness would be a must riding the vast distances between towns. It would take hours to ride between most areas, with nothing in-between. In the warmer half of the year, heatstroke will be something to be careful of for anyone unprepared and unfit. Electric bikes sound fantastic but certainly aren’t cheap, with base models costing upwards of $1,000 – $2,000 to buy. The range on many base model e-bikes also isn’t much past 30km. You’d get from Casino to Lismore, then have to wait 4-6 hours for it to charge, then have to go back again. The good quality mountain bikes that will be needed as a minimum also aren’t exactly cheap, costing hundreds of dollars for the most basic models. To ride the vast distances comfortably and regularly, you’d need to look at spending more rather than less however. Closer to $1,200 preferably. Sadly, the notion of whizzing along on an expensive electric bike or mountain bike just isn’t realistic for most people in this region. We also can’t overlook the vast amounts of time needed to ride the trail. We’re talking many hours for a one-way journey. That in itself means it’s impractical for most working individuals and/or people on a schedule, eg many tourists.
      Further, the rail trail study reccomened that most timber bridges be bypassed by a lower level structure, meaning cyclists will have to ride down to this then back up the hill again to get back onto the path. They’ll also have to ride up a fair hill at Naughton’s Gap, where the rail trail will be bypassing a tunnel, going up and over the hill. It wouldn’t all be perfectly flat unfortunately. If recommendations of the study are realised, there may well be regular undulations and uphill climbs in many areas.

      • The line connects a handful of small towns, mostly with populations of 5000 or less, to Lismore. The majority of tourists come by car, mostly from South-East Queensland . The notion that they would park and ride the last few kilometres of the journey on a train is utter nonsense.

        The next largest group of tourists come by air to either Coolangatta (mainly) or Ballina. There is no railway to Byron from either of these airports. Many tourists hire a car at the airport or catch the Express bus at a cost of $15 for adults and $2 for children. It takes less time for the bus to get from Coolangatta than it ever took for the train to travel from Murwillumbah to Byron.

        Byron proposes to use “Hi-Rail” (converted buses) or “Very Light Rail” (miniature trams) to service the line between Mullumbimby and Byron. At the proposed speed on a single line they could not even manage two trips each way per hour. How many cars is this really going to take of the road? How many people do you really expect to forgo the convenience of their cars to ride an expensive train? The costing is based on replacing one sleeper in twenty despite acknowledging they would eventually need to replace on in four. This represents millions of dollars in ongoing as yet undisclosed cost. Like other tourist rails it would continue to be a massive funding burden to the as yet unidentified funding body.

        All a train could do for the festival sites is displace a small part of the parking and the temporary traffic congestion as the festival ends from the site to somewhere else in the shire less accessible and less able to cope with it. With a single track, light rail can only move trivial numbers of people to somewhere else where they would need to catch a bus.

        Tweed currently proposes to repair about half the bridges between Murwillumbah and Crabbes Creek as part of the Tweed Valley Trail leaving only a small sections where the users need to climb a slope. In many cases that slope can be a very long ramp and not particularly steep. Moreover the initial construction is just a beginning and the trail will continue to be enhanced over time. Many other trails seek further funding to reconstruct the other bridges later on as heritage projects.

        Quality bicycles will be available for hire at the trail head including electric models which are increasingly popular at other trails and among the general population. They will be configured exactly for use on the trail to suit all kinds of riders.

        The distances are not “enormous”. Trail users tend to stop along the way at cafes that provide refreshments and charging facilities. This is exactly what we want them to do. In Tweed, the longest gap between such rest stops is the ten kilometres between Stokers Siding and Burringbar. It is a trivial distance for anyone to manage and includes the most awesome tunnel on the whole corridor where they are bound to linger a while. These and longer episodes such as riding from Casino to Lismore then waiting for a few hours to recharge the bike before continuing sound like exactly the scenarios we are aiming to achieve. And as you say, that is an entry level bike.

        Serious enthusiasts will invest in their own quality bicycles. Bicycle sales in Murwillumbah are already booming as cycling is increasingly recognised as a very enjoyable low impact exercise for anyone as well as being a very practical means to get around. The trail will take cycling culture in the region to stellar heights.

      • Get over it Wayne, wherever they are built locals and visitors use rail trails. Does everyone use them? No. Is that a reason not to build a path that most people can use? No. It’s not compulsory to ride the length of it, or to ride it at all. Some people just go for a short walk in the countryside, or a ride on whatever bike they have. I have no idea why you think you will need a need a mountain bike – the design is for a smooth compacted surface, suitable for almost any cycle. I met an couple riding the 40km Kingaroy rail trial . They enjoyed the safe off road relatively experience over three days on old low cost bikes.
        And what is your problem with people riding electric or $1,200 bikes? Not everyone does but many people do. Some travel to visit rail trails in cars that cost ten times that or more. Shock horror, some people like traveling and walking and cycling , and when they visit rail trails they spend an average of $200each a day in the local community, creating jobs and incomes for small businesses. Perhaps you are not aware but working Australians normally get annual leave, and most have long weekends – ample time to ride our rail trial, and many Australians are retired and love seeing our country on foot or on cycle.
        And you are still trying to tell us its too hot to walk the rail trail! For the record the visitor centres on the SE QLD rail trials will tell you they get strong visitations for about nine months of the year, with the strongest numbers in the coolest six moths. In our area that would be perfect complement to summer surf tourism , bringing additional customers and spending in quiet times.
        The trains are not coming back, and the alternative to a rail tail is a disused rail corridor. People won’t travel from Mullum to Byron Bay in fifteen minutes on a disused rail corridor, not will they travel at 40 -60 kph on it. No one will come and support jobs and businesses because there is a corridor with rails left on it. No will ride a disused rail corridor , however expensive their bike. But construction will start shortly on a rail trail that will pass through the most beautiful part of Australia. We know from the experience on other trails locals and visitors will walk it going as far as pleases them, and many will ride it , on whatever cycle they care to bring.

      • You’re right Wayne. There’s been some large community meetings recently calling for Trains On Our Tracks. Most locals are aware, and appalled, by the dodgy behaviour of our polticians. We pay them well to ensure communities are provided with the services and infrastruture they need, in the most cost effective way. What the Hatfield/Clitheroes think is irrelevant. People don’t have time to read so much dishonest rubbish anyway.

        It’s the polticians, who stated the bleeding obvious ‘we will need more trains and more tourist trains’, and promised $millions for them, but are now wasting trainloads of taxpayers’ money destroying valuable public infrastructure, who need to be held to account.

        • Yes Louise, the politicians are paid to ensure infrastructure is provided in the most cost effective way. That is why they are not going to provide extraordinarily expensive luxury public transport for a tiny minority when buses are a much more versatile and cost effective option.

          They do care what people think because it affects their chances of reelection. They have decided that the small numbers of unreasonable people demanding rail services would not affect their chances. Conversely they consider the widespread popularity and economic success of rail trails is a much better pursuit.

          Your “community meetings” are largely stacked with the core rail advocates and their friends. They are not representative of the wider community at all. Most people have completely lost interest in your hysterical nonsense but unfortunately you don’t seem to have noticed.

        • Louise You have made an accusation that some thing or things that I have written is “dishonest”. I take great care to ensure that what I write is correct. Could you please advise exactly what I have written that is untrue?

  4. There is no longer a rail line from Casino to Murwillumbah. The former line had not been used since 2004, and was closed from Casino to Bentley and Crabbes Creek to Condong. The Government has been focusing for seven years on improving bus services and there is no other funding available to restore rail services. The only question is what to do with the disused corridor land. Byron Shire is trying to get a tourist rail through Byron Shire, but it too has no funds (.I would note too that the late Geoff Clarke after whom the Byron Train is named was quite clear that the low cost of restoring the line to Elements should not be used as a guide to the rest of the line ).
    The rail trail has funding and it will open up the now closed corridor to the public, while keeping it in public ownership. That is surely a better out coming than just leaving rails on an unused corridor land.

  5. Please could Louise & /or others provide a Cost Analysis for the train.

    Please state:-

    1) Annual income for the proposed train and the running costs to produce this income. ie Please show the available annual surplus to pay the debt for re-establishing trains?
    2) How the track renovation cost and annual maintenance cost will be paid off (including the interest) and how long this repayment will take.?

    I am certain there is no way a Cost Analysis will support the train and will show what the Toot Tooters want is to squander massive sums on a near useless unprofitable train

    But please provide the figures and prove me wrong.

    I feel sure you can’t can you? So I know you are unlikely to do it. The train stopped because it lost money and the track/bridge maintenance cost was massive. What secrets does Louise have that will turn this around? Please explain. But you can’t can you?

    • Locals know the trains stopped because the state government needed funds for Sydney infrastructure and knew they could still win elections even if they lost the seat of Tweed. Which they did. We don’t count up here.

      How many times do we have to repeat? The North Coast Motor Rail cost $11m and returned $22m as it ran at times convenient for locals to use. Even the XPT returned more to state coffers than Sydney trains. As local National pollies claimed for many years, this fast growing region, and one of the busiest tourists regions in the country with over six millions tourists, needs more COMMUTER trains and tourist trains. But then they found they could back-track on promises and still win elections-so they did!!

      Those dismissing the well documented facts can’t claim trains would be too expensive without doing the research and telling us the cost to taxpayers- and the environmental damage, of the alternative- building and maintaining massive roads.

      The state government tells us Ewingsdale road needs upgrading. If the Byron by- pass cost $8m per kilometer, providing two extra lanes on Ewingsdale Rd will cost at least $96m, without the cost of any land acquisition needed. Then there’s the $78m they say it will cost to modify the Byron exit off the M1.

      Most locals can count and know that’s not good value for money. Rail would cost much less and not only re-connect most local towns again, but provide sustainable transport to and from Coolangatta Airport. It could even provide some decent, secure, well-paid jobs for our kids, who may be able to buy homes and raise families.

      • “North Coast Motor Rail cost $11m and returned $22m”
        What is the source for this ?
        Does this factor in the cost of maintaining the tracks, associated railway stations, rolling stock ?

      • Although the claim about the profitable motor rail is frequently repeated by rail advocates, I have never seen anyone cite the source of this information. As Louise has asserted that it is well documented, she will of course be able to provide it for us. I look forward to seeing it.

        The service ran all the way from Sydney with Casino to Murwillumbah only constituting about twenty percent of the journey. Passengers joined and left at stations along the way. Surely it is not reasonable to include all that income when considering the the branch line. How much of a contribution to the operation of the Main North Coast line was included in these costs? We would need the documents to ascertain these facts if there were any point in doing so.

        In any case we are discussing a train from three decades ago. It is irrelevant. Since then, cheap flights and modern comfortable cars with cruise control running on the M1 have completely changed the nature of travel. A train taking more than fourteen hours is not an attractive option to any but the concession holders with plenty of time on their hands that the Arup report indicated would be virtually the only passengers on any restored railway.

        The research was done on the cost to taxpayers of returning trains to the line. It was several hundreds of millions of dollars in 2013 and would be a lot more now. It would not reduce the need for road upgrades at all. The railway doesn’t even connect most of the places people come to Byron from and people will continue to chose the convenience of their cars over a slow, expensive and infrequent train.

        Extending the railway to Coolangatta has already been costed at well over two billion dollars. Read about it in the Tweed Public Transport Strategy which is available at the council website. It isn’t going to happen in our lifetime and if it eventually does it will not come through Murwillumbah. Instead it would follow a much shorter route beside the M1 where it would be closer to the growing coastal towns of Tweed Shire, not have to negotiate the Tweed River flood plain and avoid the need to rebuild the most decrepit section of track on the entire corridor.

        The recent clearing of this part of the corridor confirms what many already knew, that the track would need to be completely rebuilt to support any train. Come the middle of this year the tracks will be removed and construction of the trail will begin. People like Louise had best start accepting the inevitable for the sake of their health.

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Hundreds queue to have COVID test and two new cases in the NNSWLHD

Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) is urging people to continue coming forward for testing and vaccination after two further COVID-19 cases were reported in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, October 14. 

Charges after cars damaged in police pursuit – Coffs Harbour

Police say a man has been charged following a pursuit, where a number of cars – including an unmarked police car – were sideswiped on the Mid-North Coast yesterday.