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Byron Shire
April 16, 2024

Business calls for Tweed train tracks to be kept ignored

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Tweed Mayor Chris Cherry was seeking urgent meetings with state members on the Northern Rivers last week in response to community calls for old train tracks to be kept.

Tweed Shire Councillors at the May ordinary meeting heard more than 800 people had signed a petition calling for a new rail trail to be built next to, rather than in place of, the existing disused railway line running through the shire.

The old line continued south through the Byron, Ballina and Lismore local government areas and elsewhere on the Northern Rivers.

Arguments for and against a revival of train services continued to be heard in various community forums, through local media and in the NSW parliament.

Meanwhile, government plans for a rail trail project aimed at cycling tourists and hikers, with scope for businesses to cash in by lining the trail with stalls in some areas, was already allocated funding.

Cyclists across the country try to influence Tweed Shire Council on rail trail

But train advocates didn’t give up the fight for public transport and in the Byron Shire the council voted to have both: a rail trail and options for using the old train tracks again, even if just for light rail services within the shire.

Further north in the Tweed Shire, Mayor Chris Cherry said she didn’t want to ‘jeopardise’ the state government funding for the rail trail project but it was important to listen to Tweed Shire residents on the issue.

Tweed Mayor Chris Cherry says she doesn’t want to ‘jeopardise’ the state government funding for the rail trail project but it’s important to listen to Tweed Shire residents on the issue. PHOTO supplied

The petition was presented to the council as part of a ‘last minute’ Mayoral Minute, Cr Cherry said.

A tender application deadline for the Tweed Shire section of the rail trail had already been extended owing to ‘huge passion in the community to keep the rails in place’, she said.

Advocates of the rail trail had also lobbied the mayor, she said, but were not all necessarily Tweed Shire residents.

‘I’ve received at least 50 emails calling for the rail trail,’ Cr Chery said, ‘but I think a lot of them were from Rail Trail Australia’.

‘I think it comes down to what Tweed Shire residents want,’ the mayor said, ‘that’s who I represent’.

Tweed rail trail tenders allowed to include plans for keeping old tracks

Cr Cherry said parts of the rail trail would have to built next to rather over the old train tracks anyway thanks to missing bridges and ‘people who have built into the railway corridor’.

The council’s tender application process included options for a rail trail next to the old line, Cr Cherry said.

The May petition was presented alongside a survey of business in Murwillumbah showing 90% of owners supported the introduction of light rail services in the district and wanted the rail trail to run alongside the old train tracks.

Thirty-two businesses were canvassed as part of the survey, with 29 in support of keeping train tracks in situ.

Cr Cherry said the business owners interviewed believed having both the train track and rail trail would benefit them.

But there was a reticence from other councillors to accept the survey results, she said.

Some councillors said they didn’t know who had signed the survey on behalf of businesses and weren’t confident they really were owners, despite responses submitted in writing.

‘We ended up just noting the petition,’ Cr Chery said, ‘so to all of those businesses that did sign the survey, I’m sorry we didn’t officially note it’.

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  1. What many people think they want, and what is possible, let alone affordable or viable, are two entirely different issues.

    It is totally impossible to have both a train service AND a rail trail running through the tunnels.

    The timber bridges and trestles are all affected by split beams from 127 years of high rainfall exposure, so any train service would need to have all timber bridges replaced with galvanized steel structures.

    Anyone akin to these realities, sees that a rail trail on the formation, is the only option.
    Keeping the corridor in public ownership, is the primary advantage of a rail trail.

    The secondary advantage is tourism and jobs for enthusiastic locals.

    When it’s built throughout our region, people will wonder why it took us so long.

    • Light Rail is a rail system that utilises trams. Trams operate on a line of sight system, and can run alongside pedestrians and cyclist. Just think of European trams, San Francisco Trams or our Melbourne Trams. Of course one can have both Trams (Light Rail) and a Bike Trail share the tunnels. Have a sign that says a tram is due at a certain time, and advise the Bike Trailers not to be in the tunnel at that time. 5 minutes prior to the tram arrival a flashing warning light goes off at each end of the tunnel, telling anyone inside that they have 5 minutes to get out. It takes 4 minutes to walk out of the longest Burringbar tunnel from the centre, at a leisurely walking pace. Should someone still be in the tunnel as the tram comes along, the tram can come to a quick stop (just like a motor vehicle) and either the person walk past the tram at walking pace, or the tram pass the person at walking pace. The tunnel is 4.2m wide, and trams vary in width between 2.4 and 2.78m.
      So – not Totally Impossible – but with a bit of positive thought; ToTally Possible.
      Being a civil engineer, and experienced in building bridges, I can testify that many of the existing bridge structures are in reasonable condition, and would take far less to fix up for Light Rail than Heavy Rail trains.
      The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail is a good Rail Trail according to Tweed Shire Council website – and it runs mostly alongside the old railway line, and hey it cost around $12m to construct the 140km total length. Go do your research.
      If 1% of Byron’s tourist (2.7mpa) got on a tram to Murwillumbah as the destination, that number of 27,000 would equal the number the Tweed Valley Rail Trail predicts will use the rail trail – and that’s after 10 years of use.
      Come on – who do you think will spend the more money in businesses and tourism operators, the 27,000 Rail Trailers or the 1% (27,000) of Byron tourists?
      Think again – if a Bike Trail was built beside Light Rail – one could have a massive increase in spend in the region.

      • The Parliament closed the rail line through Tweed in order to build a rail trail, and did so with the support of most MPs. The Greens moved an amendment requiring it to be built beside the rails but that was defeated. As Janelle Saffin told the Parliament at some point you have to make a decision and after seventeen years no planned use was presented to the Parliament that required the rails to be kept on the Tweed or the Casino to Bentley part of the former rail corridor.
        The “survey” of businesses like similar surveys asking people if they want a train is meaningless, as the Hansard clearly shows none has been planned or envisaged for the foreseeable future (the companies showing interest in the Tweed now should have been put to the Parliament to consider).
        It is quite proper for rail trial supporters to write to Council. I just traveled to Tumbarumba to ride the rail trial and people will come from all over to ride ours. That is particularly so for those from NSW. The rail corridor belongs to all of us in NSW , our Parliament has closed the corridor to build it and Tweed Council has agreed to accept the funding. It is heartening to read Mayor Cherry say “… she doesn’t want to ‘jeopardise’ the state government funding for the rail trail project” . .There is no survey or any other evidence to show that if is it is not feasible to build it off the formation, that local businesses or people want the corridor to remain unused just to keep the rails in place indefinitely. After your presentation to the Tweed Shire Council meeting that accepted the funding, the tenderers were given the option of submitting a tender to build the rail trail beside the rails . They were briefed by council staff and Mayor Cherry to consider if the it is feasible to build the rail trail off the rails, and similar comments to yours were made by an engineer involved with the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. The winning conforming tender should show what is the best way to proceed.

      • Tom pulls a figure straight out of the air by claiming of one percent of the the tourists would use a tram from Byron to Murwilumbah . Firstly the majorly of tourists are day or weekend visitors arriving in their own cars. They are not going to be interested in paying hundreds of dollars to take their family to Murwillumbah by train when they could simply drive there on their way back to Queensland where most of them come from and leave whenever they felt like it.

        But let’s go with that number, 27,000 per year. That is 74 passengers per day 365 days per year. One Byron Train three quarters full per day. Do you really think that is going to pay for the upkeep of a railway let alone pay back any of the vast millions required to get trains running again? In reality it might manage once a week like other heritage trains and be far too expensive for most people.

        Heritage railways rarely exceed twenty kilometres of track with fares costing between $1.30 and $1.70 per kilometre. That puts the 100 km round trip Byron to Murwilumbah at $130 per person and up. (It is not much different from Tom’s own plan presented in March 2018 at the Murwillumbah RSL where he based fares on one dollar per kilometre. )

        There is a sensitive price point of about $60 which applies across such attractions from rail bikes, through to adventures like the Mary Valley Rattler or Puffing Billy. More than this and passenger numbers drop sharply. They will occasionally pay up to $120 if it comes with a decent meal and a quality drink. Ratepayes at the Mary Valley Rattler still contribute $40 on top of the $62 paid by the passengers. One hour of free labour is also contributed by the vast army of volunteers for every passenger carried.

        Tourist trains are a huge undertaking and generally a financial nightmare. We don’t have someone putting up the money or an army of volunteers. We have nothing but an old track that has been buried in vegetation for more than a decade. A tourist railway from Byron to Mullumbimby fits the model and might work if they ran the Byron Train on it, but to think there is any chance of running tourist train all the way to Murwillubah is pie in the sky.

      • Rail advocates rely on bluff and bluster and count on readers not fact checking.

        Tom Rayner says, “The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail is a good Rail Trail according to Tweed Shire Council website – and it runs mostly alongside the old railway line, and hey it cost around $12m to construct the 140km total length. Go do your research.”

        Well I did my research Tom and it doesn’t back up your claim. I got this advice.
        “Most of the BVRT does indeed follow the original formation of the former Brisbane Valley Railway Line. There are only three sections that were deemed necessary for detours away from the original formation & this is a very short section between Wulkuraka – Brassall, a short section between Moore – Linville, & a slightly longer section through Harlin.”

        Just take a look at the photos online.It is easy to see that the vast majority are exactly where the track used to be. The other photos mostly show the difficult section associated with some of the crossings.

        I have not yet been able to find the total cost of the project but have been advised the $12 million figure is too low. Last year $3.2 million was spent restoring the Lockyer Creek Bridge. This year $4.4 million in upgrades have been funded. Clearly they got a rudimentary trail going on a small budget and are continuing to develop the facility to the level it needs to be.

        Rail trails are rated. There are two factors where the BVRT scores poorly. One is the accessibility because almost all of the bridges were long gone so users must negotiate treacherous steep slippery tracks on many of the crossings. Tweed has wisely identified accessibility at a vital factor to attract visitors and plan to refurbish about half the bridges in the initial construction, following up with the others over time when they can attract funding based on the initial success. Our trail will be suitable for whole families from grandparents down to the little children because it will be highly accessible and safe. This is an absolute genius move that will make our trail far more popular than the BVRT. I’m really excited that the engineers have had such a forward thinking vision and have been able to attract the funding to achieve it. We must not compromise that vision for the sake of rails that will never have trains on them again just because some claim we could build a tin pot trail for less.

        The other factor that almost all rail trails score poorly on is the remnants of the railway. Most trails have been built on corridors where everything had been removed. Our corridor still has all the signs, signals and other paraphernalia in place. Those who say it won’t be a success have absolutely no idea what the are talking about.

  2. Interesting. So when there is a petition from local businesses that doesn’t suit their agenda, Councillors ignore it. Yet when anything pro-rail trail comes their way, they welcome it with open arms. Sorry, but just sliding the petition under the mat because it doesn’t suit them just doesn’t wash.

    • Too True.
      Council has not done the Community Consultation that it is required to do.
      Local Tweed surveys undertaken shows a massive majority who want the tracks saved for future generations, and want Light Rail, a regular community transport system, not only the community members, but also business owners.

      • The vast majority of people living in Murwillumbah travel to the north for their work and major purchases. A railway to the south would be useless for almost all of us. If you doubt this, stand by Tweed Valley Way at Condong and Burringbar and compare the traffic.

        Community consultation was done and the documents are available online. Those bleating “no consultation” are simply unhappy with the outcome. Similarly with the Arup report which remains the most comprehensive study into returning trains to the corridor.

        The “surveys” were accompanied by a huge misinformation campaign and were deeply flawed in their methodology and respondent selection process. The claim of a “massive majority” in support of retaining the tracks is not substantiated. Many people who signed would have no intention of using a train if it were available and simply signed because they were asked to. Try asking instead how people who like hundreds of millions of dollars spent in their region.

        Wanting something does not automatically mean it should be supplied. There are a vast number of real needs competing for public funding and the cost of proving railway service to a sparse population simply does not stand up to scrutiny. There is no funding available for trains so it is nonsense to be comparing the competing needs of a very real fully funded trail project and a pipe dream of a railway.

  3. The rail trail is a regional project, not just a Tweed shire project. It will benefit locals throughout our community as well as those from interstate and eventually overseas. Those writing letters from Rail Trails Australia are looking forward to visiting our region and spending their money riding the rail trail!

    • So Marie, are you saying its ok to accept and take note of letters from Rail Trails Australia, but not business surveys signed by Tweed Shire businesses?
      Legislation states that Shirewide Community Consultation has to be undertaken. Council admits this has not been done. It is the Shirewide Community that counts in this decision making – not the National Bike Organisation community.
      Council has failed to consult as they should.

      • The report on the consultation process is available online. We know the business survey was deeply flawed.

  4. Definitely need a light rail train in Murwillumbah down to Lismore , the government has taken most things out of Murwillumbah . I have to go to Lismore hospital to see a Specialist , I have to catch a bus somehow down to Ballina luckily my sister lives there – leave the day before stay overnight then catch another bus to Lismore come back to my sisters place stay another night and catch a bus back to Murwillumbah, if there was a light rail l could just go straight through, I am nearly 80 years old, it is getting too hard to travel like this.

    • Would you rather that hundreds of millions be spent on providing a railway or a new hospital in Murwillumbah? We could buy a brand new state of the art hospital like the one being constructed in Kingscliff and staff it with all kinds of specialists for less than the cost of fixing that railway. No doubt you will say “It won’t happen”. Well neither will the railway because it is a vast amount of money.

      People should campaigning for better local health services that don’t mean the elderly need to spend all day travelling to see a specialist.

      BTW Which bus do you use? A bus leaves opposite Sunnyside Mall at 7:15 AM arriving in Lismore just before 10:00 AM. This is considerably less time than the train used to take.

      • Greg – if your group rips up the track – it takes away the opportunity of future public transport for my kids, their kids and all generations beyond.
        The Byron Arcadis rail study of 2019 shows that the best use of the rail corridor in Byron is Dual Use, i.e. Light Rail + Bike Trail. The same solution is best for the Tweed Shire. It is a great myth that you and others spin that it’ll cost hundreds of millions. Why don’t you talk about the 17 Victorian rail trails that are now a financial burden to their councils and their rate payers less than 10 years of operation.
        With the expected population growth in this region over the next 40 years (yes our next generation), a predicted 400% growth, how are they going to move around effectively and efficiently – when your lot has taken away the rails, the bike trail failed, and the rail corridor sold off?
        How is Tweed Shire going to look – what will the joke be – when Byron has it’s Dual Use to the South of it, and Queensland Rail brings its railway line down to Tweed Heads – and good old Tweed Shire with its Rail Trail lobby mates have ripped up the tracks.

        • Removing the track removes an imaginary opportunity to ride an incredibly expensive train. It does not take away future public transport.

          I have read the Arcadis Report. It is clearly based on assumptions that the Byron Council has refused to share with the public. Ask yourself why the Terms Of Reference of the report is not allowed to be seen by the people who paid for the report. It is obvious that Arcadis was given an outcome and requested to write a report to justify it. They used incredibly understated costs and exaggerated outcomes to meet that request. It should be ignored unless the Terms of Reference are revealed.

          Moreover it is an exploratory report which its own authors advise should not be used to make decisions about the future use of the corridor. Millions of dollars will need to be spent on further investigation before anything happens . It is a long way from being sure anything will happen. Rail advocates are getting far ahead of themselves. They still have no funding partner having already been rejected by NSW Transport.

          Arcadis had no experience with rail trails and their report relies urban cycleway usage as a model for its trail analysis, completely ignoring the fact it would be smack in the middle of the most attractive rail trail in Australia. Governments at all levels continue to invest in rail trails because they are so successful. No rail trail corridor has ever been sold off . Your claims as such are completely disingenuous. The real risk of being sold off is while corridors continue to sit there unused and covered with weeds.

          Who would shoulder the endless burden of your railway fantasy? Ratepayers at the Mary Valley Rattler have been pouring in many millions for years and continue to do so as it continues to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars every year with no sign of ever breaking even let alone being able to pay back the existing loans, much less the ten million dollar loan they are currently seeking to cover costs that need to be met in the next couple of years. Tourist railways are notorious for financial collapse and closing down.

          A 400% increase in population in the region won’t be in Murwillumbah. It will be along the coast where it is already underway. An old worn out single track railway winding through Burringbar Range and Dunbible Creek won’t be anything to do with an efficient transport solution.

        • It is interesting your comment suggesting rail trails in Victoria are a burden on councils. Opponents of rail trails can never explain why the rail trails in a Victoria
          – like those in QLD – have been extended by thosr councils and adjoining ones. And if your concern is maintenance why would you advocate leaving a rail line and rail bed in place, that will be far more difficult to maintain than a level rail trail. And who will maintain those rails? The Governments is certainly not interested – it’s closed thst section of line which has been a burden without any benifit for 17 years, and would continue to be a pointless burden for the foreseeable future if left in place. That and the likely additionak cost is why the Government and the Parliament rejected the Greens ammendment that would have required the rails to be left in place.
          You could not find a rail use anyone was interested in funding along the now closed former Tweed rail corridor. It’s time to step aside and allow others who can use it to open it up to the public for a rail trail.

  5. The issue of the revival of train services is a red herring. A comprehensive independent report into the viability of reinstating train services on the corridor indicated that it could not make a significant contribution to the transport needs of the region and would be incredibly expensive to both repair the infrastructure and operate services that very few people would use. Both sides of parliament agreed that rail services would not be returning to the line and nothing has changed since. The Tweed Shires’ own Public Transport Strategy document, (available at the council website), indicates that any new railway would not be through Murwillumbah but along the side of the M1 between Tweed and Yelgun. Trains will never return to the section winding through the Dunbible Valley and Burringbar Range that has been turned over to the trail.

    Councillors very appropriately questioned the methodology of the survey which made no attempt to control for the potential of undue influence by those conducting the survey. Nor was there any description of the methodology used to select the respondents. Councillors raised specific concerns about the accuracy based on feedback from a sample of the business respondents contacted for comment including one who wrote a letter denying they had assented to being included as being in favour of an off formation design. As such, the motion to note the petition and survey was appropriately amended with a decision to exclude the survey, passing with a vote of 6-1 (only Cr Milne against).

    Similar doubts were cast about the petition which was introduced prematurely without going through the normal process of verification of the signers as being Tweed residents. As such it could only be noted, not formally accepted. One can only wonder why due process was not adhered to and the petition rushed into council.

    A small group of pro-rail agitators has recently engaged in an extensive campaign of misinformation, convincing some people that the trail could be easily built off the formation. These claims include the notion that the trail could be built along “the existing maintenance track beside the tracks” or by using cheap recycled plastic walkways. There is no maintenance track. Railways are maintained from the line itself. When questioned about the effect of fire on the recycled plastic the response was the ludicrous claim that the plastic would be flame retardant.

    These nonsense claims were made by the Secretary of Northern Rivers Rail Limited, the farcical company formed in December claiming they will run heritage trains on the 130 km of decrepit line despite having no employees, no experience and capital consisting of $20 subscriptions from old age pensioners. It demonstrates not only the complete lack of any familiarity with the railway corridor and the absence of the slightest concern for the outcome of the $16 million trail project but a profound disconnect from reality.

    Enough time has already been wasted bringing the rail trail project into being. Let’s stop wasting more time with this nonsense.

    • Greg
      You quote a ridiculous report that said it would cost 7 times per km than the Darwin to Alice railway cost per km. Go figure.
      Yet you fail to reference the Arcadis Byron Rail report that states the best solution for the shire is Dual Use Light Rail + Bike Trail.
      No other report has looked into Light Rail
      A new Railway would not run down the M1 because of the vertical grades being to steep for a train to go up. Light rail perhaps – but the cost would be massive, all those interchange slip roads to navigate – and the distance of new build being approx twice the distance from the existing railway line at Condong across the level ground to Tweed.
      Councillors are welcome to question the methodology of the survey – and compare it to the total lack of survey that has been undertaken by themselves. I totally agree with the legislation, that the survey should be completed by an independent consultant, and meet the legal requirements of both the local government act, and the NSW Rail Trails legislation – ie. Shirewide Community Consultation. THIS HAS NOT BEEN DONE.
      Check out a community group called We Can Ride Together, search it up, see if you spot any misinformation there, or whether it is evidence based.
      It’s amazing that the nearby Brisbane Valley rail trail of length 140km, running for much of it’s length off formation, that is alongside the old railway line, cost approximately $12m.

      • The Alice to Darwin railway was built across flat open Crown Land. It was not limited by a narrow corridor through expensive real estate and needed very few bridges. It was built on the cheap as a freight line. Check out the feedback from passengers riding the eye-wateringly expensive tours. The main complaint is that it is incredibly rough.

        The steam age Casino-Murwillumbah railway is completely unsuited to the needs of modern train. Presumably I won’t have to explain to you the implications of 250 to 400 metre radius curves as I have to so many others who say there is no reason the line could not support speeds of 140 kph if it were repaired.

        The steeper sections of the M1 are south of Yelgun. Fast trains can routinely be run on steeper track because their kinetic energy is so high compared to the potential energy of climbing the rise. They have a lot of momentum to get up hills.

        “All those slip roads?” Chinderah interchange would have to be negotiated either way and would be an important station. Then you only have Clothiers Creek and Pottsville before reaching Yelgun. All would be important stations around which the infrastructure and car parks would be built. Besides you wouldn’t run the railway right next to the M1 itself where it had to deal with the on ramps. The railway only has to go under one of the approach roads. The ramp up to the interchange overpass would simply be moved further back allowing the train to pass underneath. I though you said you were a civil engineer?

        A railway through to Murwillumbah would carve up the land and have to deal dozens of farm accesses. As it is an alluvial flood plain so the foundations and formation would be massive, probably more economical as a viaduct. Then there is problem dealing with the acid sulphate soils throughout the area. Much less expensive over on the higher ground by the M1. And all that to include a town with a population of 10,000 and very little room to expand. Meanwhile nowhere near the growing coastal towns? Get a grip on reality, Tom.

  6. Rail simply isn’t viable sorry. Cost to build and run is too high and the population is too small. Rail trail would have more economic benefits at a fraction of the cost.

    • But Light Rail serving the community, is viable. Read the Byron Arcadis Rail Report. Light Rail costs are far less than Heavy Rail. The rail trail will not bring as much economic benefits as Dual Use (Light Rail + Bike TRail). Most rail trails fail, and end up a cost burden to the community. We have the luxury of a massive amount of tourists in Byron, at one end of the railway line with the lovely Art Deco town of Murwillumbah at the other, that has a world class art gallery, and a gateway to the border ranges and more. We are in a fast growing region, with transport infrastructure already under strain. Removing the perfectly good railway track infrastructure, that would take relatively little to get up to standard for Light Rail use – would be a criminal act when judged by our future generations.

      • The Arcadis Report suggested not Light Rail (eg the Byron Solar Train) but Very Light Rail or Hi-Rail. Basically Toyota Coasters with train wheels or very expensive yet to be developed miniature trams from the UK. I have asked many times for rail advocates to explain how many people would be moved using a miniature tram running at 50 kph on a single line. Simon Richardson has spoken of 750,000 cars being taken off the road though he did not name the time period. I can only assume he was talking “per century”

        The Arcadis interpretation of the trail usage showed their complete lack of knowledge of the subject. Like I said in another reply, the Arcadis Report should be taken with a grain of salt until we are allowed to see its Terms Of Reference.

        Again you misrepresent the success of trails. The monumental failures are heritage train projects. Our trail has everything that would indicate that it would be one of the most popular trails in Australia, provided it is built to a world class standard. It greatest weakness is the inferior concept being mooted in Byron Shire and the years their folly is wasting while other shires are getting on with it. Attempts to undermine the Tweed Project are becoming tiresome.

        “Perfectly good railway infrastructure” is a massive misrepresentation of the line’s condition.

      • The ARCADIS report did not find light rail was viable. It found the rail infratructure was only suitable for very light rail or Hi rail. Not even thst finding, and it’s suggestion a path could be built beside the rails was not based on a detailed examination of the corridor. ARCADIS could not even tell how many bridges there were along the stretch from the Bay to Mullum, and proposed a virtual examination of them – bridges some of us who unlike ARCADIS have walked and crawled along the line have seen and counted.
        Instead of using a fanciful report from a Dutch urban transport planning company, how about letting Australian contractors with experience in rail trails, who have had the chance to look at the cleared Tweed section, tell us through the tender process what is the most feasible way to build a rail trail. After all, and unlike ARCADIS or yourself, the winning tenderer will have to put its money where its mouth is, and build it within the budget.

  7. Murwillumbah is a sad place growing up as a teenager…if you connected the rail trail to Byron you would be giving a lot of people the opportunity to go to the beach and meet new people. Also light rail is healthy for the environment.

      • The “survey” at this site is typical of the poorly designed prejudiced nonsense rail advocates come up with, like the one they inflicted on Murwillumbah businesses. Nice picture of a wide flat corridor with lots of room for a trail next to it accompanied by a plethora of platitudes about sharing. Then they ask the question what we want in deeply biased langue, calling the rail trail a “bike track” which they have consciously used to try and minimise the idea that a rail trail can be used by everyone. About one third of rail trail users complete their journey on foot.

        The majority of the Tweed Valley Trail Corridor is nothing remotely like their image. It runs through the steep terrain in the Burringbar Range, is built through narrow cuttings and on embankments up to six metres high. Much of it is on embankments at least a metre high across waterlogged ground where any trail off the formation would quickly turn to mud.

        Unfortunately rail advocates are not interested in the truth and will do anything and say anything to try and convince us to waste the opportunity of the century to build the best rail trail in Australia. All because they dream of riding trains that will never return to this corridor. Don’t let them fool you.

    • It was interesting that when the young people brought their concerns from Mullum High to Byron Council yesterday, transport was first on their agenda, but there was no mention of any train. Like the and the Tweed councils’ own transport consultants, they wanted improved bus services. The expert advice to the Legislative Council inquiry and ARUP adviced similarly. You have to wonder how many times the rail lobby need to be told, transport here can be more frequent and better routed on roads than on rails.

  8. Let’s keep the rail tracks as once they are gone they will never be replaced, not only that goods can be carried by train which means less trucks on the roads which has to be a good thing

  9. A trail built beside the rail tracks will INCREASE trail building costs enormously. Its a whole new easement because the rails occupy almost all of the usable corridor especially along the difficult terrain, the swampy ground and over the creeks and gullies and in the tunnels. The grants allocated for trail building simply wont buy a whole new easement that replicates the gentle gradients of the rail foundation. Even along a low embankment, a new pathway becomes a significant engineering effort. Its the gentle gradients and being able to journey from town to village to town EASILY that make rail trails work. (Plus the safety, serentiy and scenery). Compromise that and you’ll end up with a path too steep in many places for most people but the very, very fit. ALSO, any tracks and sleepers left in place will continue to deteriorate as they have done for the past 16+ years. It will be many more years before there is any chance of getting a train service up again and by then the rails, sleepers, bridges and culverts will be too damaged or no longer up to standard and need to be replaced anyway, especially if the route is ‘smoothed’ a bit AND a duplicated line for two track operations are put in to increase frequency and speeds and overhead power supply or other ‘green power’ charging stations are to be built. Build the rail trail now, start getting the benefits as soon as it opens in about 12 months OR get a compromised pathway that impresses no-one OR wait many, many, many more years and get no benefits as you wait, wait, wait for a train of any type.

    • Just not true.
      Not a whole new easement. The general railway easement width is 30m. The Tweed Shire Council concept design already had several sections of the proposed rail trail designed in bypasses around several of the bridges all within the rail corridor easement.
      You are obviously not a civil engineer. When has a low embankment ever become a significant engineering effort – what??
      Look at the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, you know the one that the Tweed Council website links to as an example – that is 140km with much of it constructed off formation (beside the tracks) for a reported mere $12m. The Tweed Section is just 24km long and they have a budget of $15m. Don’t tell me that any of the four civil contractors couldn’t build a bike track for that amount of money – but it’s been clearly indicated to them, that council prefers the on-formation to keep their mates happy, and rip up the tracks – so that is what those civil contractors will offer – because they are in business – and they want to win the job.
      I have walked and videoed what I believe is the most difficult section of the alignment, the North side of the Burringbar tunnel, and I can see innovative doable solutions to construct the bike trail beside the track.
      Don’t state it’ll INCREASE trail building costs enormously – unless you can prove it. Provide a level cost playing field. Cost into that the contaminated ballast etc.

      • Building a second formation would involve massive amounts of earth moving and the destruction of thousands of trees, ruining much of the amenity of the trail, wrecking the shade that is so important in our subtropical climate. Compacting the moved earth and preventing it ending up in waterways would also be a substantial and expensive task. Invasive weeds would be another problem blowing out the maintenance budgets for years. In comparison, the cost to remove the rails is a little over six percent of the total budget.

        All this extra expense would also take away from the money available for construction and repair of the bridges. A lot of the budget is to ensure accessibility to maximise the visitor appeal and cater for the elderly and population of the shire.. The engineers are hoping to reuse about half the bridges in the initial construction with further efforts to attract funding until the whole trail is fully accessible to everyone. Your goat track in the grunge down the side is not what is planned at all.

        It is you who must prove your claim. Have you put in your tender? If not you are merely speculating on what someone else should do. We have all heard of your $8.1 million design. Tell us, does it still not have drains or pipes because the water coming down from above would “sheet across” the trail as you told me after the March 2018 meeting in Murwillumbah where you claimed anything more than your design would be “gold plating” the trail.

        No prizes for guessing what you would like to do with the rest of the money. You said as much at the meeting. The most absurd claim by some is that your report is from “an independent engineer” You are very clearly a rail enthusiast and beset by the same delusions as they are.

        We want the best trail we can have with the available budget. Call it gold plated if you want but the better the trail the more attractive it will be for visitors. This is the greatest opportunity for Murwillumbah in many generations. Squandering the irreplaceable grant money trying to cater for trains that will never come would be a huge mistake.

  10. The briefing by Council staff on the rail trail is available on Tweed Council’s website. While the design based on the design engineered professional judgement was for an on formation rail trail, it was made quite clear that there was a wish in the community to leave the rails in place. At no point did it suggest any preference to build it on formation, and the benifit of having sections off formation to be able to see the heritage infrastructure was noted. Mayor Cherry advised rail supporters she had reinforced that there was a preference within the community and of the majority of councillors to build it off formation if that was feasible.
    The question has to be asked if you are of such a strong view that it is feasible off formation, why you have not taken a role in helping deliver a winning off formation bid? You may have your good reasons, but if off formation is the more feasible way the winning tenderer will show that. If it is not then the rail trail should be built on the formation, as the Parliament envisaged when it closed the line and rejected an ammendment that would have requited the rails to stay in place.


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