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Byron Shire
August 18, 2022

Backlash

Latest News

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Planning Dept investigates Splendour festival site

The company which owns and manages North Byron Parklands is being investigated by the NSW Department of Planning over traffic safety breaches that occurred during last month’s Splendour in the Grass festival.

Fuel stolen from farmer

The cost of fuel continues to be a major consideration in the budget, particularly in country areas where distances travelled are inevitably further for your average daily needs like accessing shops, schools and other activities.

Last week’s Backlash asked why the disused rail corridor couldn’t be utilised to prevent another ‘shemozzle’ at Splendour, suggesting the problem related to global corporations and the fact that local decisions have been taken away from councils. 

In fact, this is one area where Byron Council has been able to assert their authority. For many years our council has resisted the state government’s attempts to turn the rail corridor into a community trail, a rail trail, a project that is routinely disparaged in these pages as being inferior to ‘bringing the train back’. 

But the train ain’t coming back. The tracks have already been ripped up at either end of the Casino–Murwillumbah branch line, where other councils have welcomed the opportunity for a defunct rail line to be transformed into a trail, where people can cycle and walk, free of the tyranny of motor vehicles. Imagine if people rode their bikes to Splendour!

David Lisle, Mullumbimby


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7 COMMENTS

  1. The train isn’t coming back because nobody is going to pay the endless millions of dollars required to resurrect the decrepit infrastructure and maintain it, then subsidise the fares forever for the use by a tiny minority.

    Byron Council has been advised by multiple transport consultants that the railway is not a solution to transport needs of the shire which would be better met by improved bus services, as has been done in Tweed Shire. The council rejected that professional advice and substituted a report written by (now former) Councillor Basil Cameron, recommending trains.

    Basil has no relevant qualifications or experience in the field to be making any transport recommendations and simply expressed his long held prejudices as former President of a local railway advocacy group. And now neither he nor former Mayor and fellow rail advocate, Simon Richardson, are even on the council.

    The government has already rejected requests to fund the railway. Farcical “rail companies” set up by the the principal agitators of the local railway advocacy groups now claim they will repair the old tracks, reinstall the parts that have been removed, eventually constructing a new railway from Murwilumbah to Tweed.

    These multi-billion dollar aspirations are to be undertaken using volunteer labour while being funded by $20 annual subscriptions from the old age pensioners and retirees that make up most of their members. Really? Clearly it is nothing but a pathetic attempt to stop the rail trail going ahead.

  2. Private vehicle ownership will soon be a thing of the past
    2nd hand electric vehicles will not exist like they do for combustion engine vehicles their will be no 2nd hand affordable market no cheap 2000 dollar cars to make it through the year, responsible foward thinking governments should be preparing mass public transport infrastructure not rail trails for the affluent.

    • Some good points here Dennis but responsible forward planning involves demographic considerations first and foremost. It’s not about sinking resources into an alignment that served the population centres, commuting routes and industries of previous centuries.

      The speeds and destinations possible on this old corridor won’t do much to alleviate the problems of the carless.

      Rail trails for the affluent? What a furphy is this go-to attempted demonising of cyclists – it destroys any credibility of the cause. Cycling one of the most affordable and accessible means of leisure and transport with arguably the least environmental impact with plenty of other societal benefits bedsides.

    • Private vehicle ownership is here to stay, thought it will certainly reduce in high density populations where the cost of parking at the home of the owner makes it prohibitive.

      People will not give up the convenience of travelling from where they live to where they need to be when they want without having the complexity of changing modes of transport. Fleets of self driving cars available via an app, picking up passengers and dropping them off at their destinations will be the only mode of transport that ultimately makes a dent in private car ownership.

      Rail trails do not stand in the way of the development of public transport infrastructure. The rise of the bicycle as an important transport mode is inevitable because it is so flexible and effective. It will be a rediscovery of what thousands of people knew in the mid twentieth century and what the vast numbers of people using bicycles in The Nederlands still know today.

      Rail transport will only be relevant where large numbers of people need to travel through densely populated areas. Railways through sparsely populated areas have no future.

    • Large numbers of people!! The North Coast is one of the busiest tourist regions in Australia. Over 6 million people visit this region every year, (Tourism Research Australia) plus locals who need public transport. It’s not locals who are causing traffic chaos in our towns; they just have to put up with it.

      With petrol prices going through the roof, and perhaps unavailable if evil people continue warring and pillaging, people will be forced to get out of their cars. Expensive electric vehicles are not only unaffordable for most, they will do nothing to reduce traffic congestion.

      We need trains AND trails. Not everyone wants, or is able, to cycle to work, uni, or from the airport with luggage etc, in heat or pouring rain.

      Prior to the council elections, only two Tweed Council candidates mentioned building the ‘wonderful’ rail trail-they weren’t elected. No other candidate said anything about the ‘wonderful’ rail trail or claimed credit for the $14.4M taxpayer funding provided to destroy twenty four kilometers of valuable train line. They obviously knew bloody well it’s not what the community wants or needs, and talking about it wouldn’t have won them any votes. Says it all.

      It’s first class hypocracy for any political party, or politician, to rabbit on about reducing carbon emissions and providing public transport while they quietly allow multi-millions of taxpayers’ money to be spent destroying this train line.

      This community is being raped and pillaged by a bunch of grifting and rorting politicians who you wouldn’t trust with a chook raffle. Most of them should be in gaol with Eddie Obeid. They certainly don’t give a give fig about the transport needs of this community.

      • Nonsense. The Rail Trail was never intended to be a means of public transport, although it certainly will be for some. It cannot be a significant public transport facility because it does not connect where most people live to where they need to travel.

        The rail trail project was conceived and implemented over four terms of the Tweed Shire Council and has been supported by a majority of councillors at every phase. In fact only one candidate, long time TooT President Bill Fenelon, conspicuously stated his pro-rail position at last year’s election and his team attracted just over two percent of the vote, despite the donkey advantage of drawing Group A . Voters in Tweed have made our decision clear and are not interested in your misinformed outsider opinion.

        One quarter of the primary vote went to Cr James Owen who is very strongly pro-trail. The trail is also supported by Cr Rhiannon Brinsmead, Cr Reece Byrnes and Cr Warren Polglase. A clear majority of the council has supported the trail for well over a decade. It is being built, get over it.

        The Tweed community was not even slightly interested in a useless railway south from Murwillumbah, running parallel to the least trafficked main road in the whole shire. The community support myth is perpetrated by a noisy minority who only managed to attract about thirty protesters, many of them not even from Tweed Shire, to the Dunbible rally demonstrating against the removal of the tracks. Almost 100,000 people live in Tweed. Do the maths.

        Your slanderous ‘rorting’ remarks are completely unsubstantiated. Back them with evidence and submit them to the NSW ICAC or pull your head in. Intelligent people are tired of your rubbish. There is zero evidence that running train on a steam age corridor that doesn’t go anywhere near most of the population would lead to any reduction in pollution. Quite the opposite.

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