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Byron Shire
June 2, 2023

Candidates against the train

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Bruce Clarke, Mark Swivel and Asren Pugh have officially stated they do not believe it’s worth trying to get a light-rail service back on our rail tracks.

Perhaps they have not spent the many hours in the mornings getting to work from the Pacific Highway or from Suffolk Park into Byron. Some mornings the queues to get into town from the north are banked up on the left lane of the Pacific Highway for half a kilometre or more. Getting into Byron is getting slower every year and things are just going to get worse as development will continue to expand.

I don’t understand why these candidates can’t see that the option to park-and-ride from a train station in Mullumbimby or Yelgun near North Byron Parklands, or Tyagarah on the Pacific Highway or from Suffolk Park near Old Bangalow Road or from Bangalow township would be a dream, instead of sitting in a car breathing exhaust fumes. A light-rail train will come back one day as it will be desperately needed as the population explodes in our Shire. It’s going to be hard enough getting that fulfilled without our own councillors opposed to the idea, or at least not believing it would be possible. That makes me really sad.

Len Bates, Mullumbimby

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  1. Exactly Len.
    It’s not in our best interest to vote for any candidate not willing to ensure the state government provides the public transport, especially the train services we’ve needed for so long to reconnect our towns once again as well as a connection to the Queensland rail system at Coolangatta Airport, as they will condemn rate payers to ever increasing rates to pay for expensive roadworks and road maintenance. Just what we need-high rates to pay for canyons of tar and concrete destroying the environment.

    Not to mention planet destroying carbon emissions.

  2. A tram running a couple of kilometres from a car park near Old Bangalow Road could be useful for reducing the number of cars in town. But it won’t help the traffic on Bangalow Road. Good luck finding a place to put that car park because you need to take hundreds of cars off the road to make much difference. I don’t know where you would put a car park in Bangalow and it certainly couldn’t be near the existing stations in either Bangalow or Mullum.

    Tyagarah is a wetland so a car park near where the M1 crosses the railway would need to be built up metres. Would not be popular with the environmentalists. A new motorway interchange would be a huge cost.

    Yelgun? It is long way on a slow train when it is less than 15 minutes to reach Ewingsdale on the motorway. The real problem is the council ignored the growing traffic problem on Ewingsdale Road for years. Why not put a car park at that interchange and run a shuttle bus on dedicated bus lane? It would cost far less than and be faster than a train while servicing drivers coming from north, south or west rather than just the north. Far more likely to attract funding than a train.

    The bottom line is that all the dreams in the world mean nothing when nobody is going to fund hundreds of millions of dollars to fix the railway and many millions per year to subsidise the operation. Drivers won’t leave their cars to use a slow expensive train.

    These candidates are being realistic. So is Michael Lyon who is part of the same alliance. Michael is prepared to give the train idea another twelve months but says it would be time to move on if there are no prospects for funding found by then. It is slowly dawning on voters that the costs are far beyond the $66 million suggested by the Dual Use Study which was based on the mistaken notion that the tracks were in “reasonable condition” and easily repaired.

  3. Len, I don’t know that this is exactly what Asren Pugh said on this matter but let’s look anyway at the options you propose. Sure people could catch a train from Mullum to Byron Bay. Once in Byron how do they get to their destination? Park, ride, bus/taxi? If this was attractive I can’t see why they wouldn’t catch the bus from Mullum which will traverse a range of stops across Byron Bay. It may even take away the need to park because it may go past their door. The trip from Bangalow to Byron Bay is on a dubious road but one that is generally not congested. I don’t know how many Suffolk Park residents would drive to a station at Old Bangalow Rd to park and travel the last bit of the journey by train. And where would they park.

    The traffic on Broken Head and Ewingsdale Roads is indeed a pain but it’s questionable to what extent a light rail service on the old track would alleviate this. What your letter fails to point out is that all these candidates show a preparedness to work against the stalemate that sees Byron Shire with nothing on the rail corridor while lagging behind neighbouring shires with plans for providing a magnificent rail trail that could indeed (with electric conveyances) offer a pleasant and healthy alternative to traffic jams.

  4. The Labor candidates have long been spreading National Party (who promised to return rail services which would cost less than the empty coaches which replaced trains) lies about the cost and viability of trains on our tracks. They have NO PLAN to deal with the dangerous traffic gridlock and parking mess destroying our towns.

    Now they’re prepared to waste more millions of public money destroying the valuable rail line.


    Plenty of public money to spend on shooting infrastructure to save the premier’s corrupt boyfriend’s job and $250 MILLION to buy votes to win elections.

    Both Labor and the Nationals have shown they cannot be trusted. All they care about is appeasing their big business donors. They have never cared about the needs of this community and are not fit to sit on our council.

  5. Louise perhaps the empty coaches – which actually offer more flexibility and convenience – are an indication to the state government (of which I am no apologist) of the likelihood of train usage being a value for investment return on the huge cost of restoring and maintaining the line.

    I know you constantly denigrate coaches as uncomfortable and inferior. Contrary to a previous claim they have very quick and easy access for prams, wheelchairs and mobility scooters with dedicated areas and inbuilt ramps that take seconds to fold out. Honestly, with some of the claims I read I wonder if those who make them have ever deigned to use one. I wonder how often you or the other TOOT people would actually use a train.


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