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Byron Shire
November 30, 2022

Advocates push for the return of rail

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Phillip Hill, from Northern Rivers Rail (NRR), consultant Nigel Kirwan, NRR chairperson Jan Mangelson, Lydia Kindred (NRR), and David Brown, from Council’s place planning collective. Photo Jeff ‘Railing For Public Transport’ Dawson.

A group of residents committed to the return of rail services to the area say the first stage of planning is underway ‘to bring our tracks back to life and extend a climate-friendly train service to Mullumbimby, with the second stage to provide rail services to Bangalow’.

Lydia Kindred, from Northern Rivers Rail Ltd (NRRL), told The Echo, the plans are based on a recently completed Transport Expansion Strategy for the Northern Rivers’, which was jointly funded by Mitren Rail and Prema Capital.

As part of this planning, park’n’ride parking options around Mullumbimby Station were explored last Friday by members of Northern Rivers Rail Ltd (NRRL) Board.

They comprise Chairperson Jan Mangleson, Secretary Lydia Kindred and Phillip Hill, who met with Strategy and Planning consultant, Nigel Kirwan and David Brown, a member of the Byron Shire Council’s Place Planning committee.

Traffic jams

‘Many commuters dealing with the daily and prolonged traffic jams travelling into Byron Bay CBD from the Pacific Highway and along Ewingsdale Road, and others who just avoid the journey altogether, will benefit greatly from an easy journey on an extended Solar Train service’, Lydia Kindred said.

‘The rail journey proposed between Mullumbimby and Byron Bay is estimated as taking 20–25 minutes and will connect people for work, sightseeing, restaurants, entertainment, recreation, and health services’.

Lydia Kindred continued, ‘One of the issues the return of regional rail services is facing at the moment is a push to pull up the tracks of our railway corridors for recreational bike and hike paths.’

Lydia said Northern Rivers Rail welcomes, where feasible, these recreational paths, ‘but not at the cost of regular rail services being established as a priority for public transport in our existing rail corridor’.

To support the return of much-needed trains, NRRL asks residents ‘to please write a brief note to Byron Shire Council by Friday, October 7, to ensure that the extension of climate-friendly train services in the Byron Shire and beyond is not put at risk by recreational use paths’.

Council’s proposal is at www.byron.nsw.gov.au/Your-Say-Byron-Shire/Mullumbimby-to-Brunswick-Heads-cycleway-route-options.

For more info, or to become a member, or donate to Northern Rivers Rail Ltd go to: www.northernriversrail.com.au.

Proposed bike path up through Brunswick Heads

‘We ask that you request that a proposed bike path up through Brunswick Heads does not stop the potential for extending the rail service beyond Mullumbimby to Yelgun at the top of Byron Shire, where Splendour and other festivals desperately need rail service to help with their transport issues.

‘David Brown agreed that reinstating the existing rail system between tourist and employment centres is an environmentally and economically sound proposition.

Northern Rivers Rail Ltd has been established to restore our tracks and establish regular, climate-friendly rail services in the Northern Rivers to provide much-needed, non-road travel options.

For more info or to become a member, or donate to Northern Rivers Rail Ltd go to: www.northernriversrail.com.au.


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12 COMMENTS

  1. yawn – here we go again. While i applaud this mobs persistence – this idea is not on Councils radar at all – and certainly is not part of future planning. While this does make sense on paper the unfortunate reality is that even thought this is a short section of line – remediation will cost a bundle (money Council doesn’t have) and a commercial operator would need to run the service which would be unlikely to be financially viable. Further, NSW govt has no interest in funding micro rail projects and so no $$ there either. This venture is a financial dead dog and has a high financial risk – cat see it going anywhere.

  2. I am all for a light rail service going down to Mullumbimby and Bryon Bay, some people do not have transport to travel and the bus service which is few and far in- between doesn’t help that much, older people cannot jump on a bike ride down that far- there are a lot of elderly people that would love to take a train trip down that way.

  3. There are buses service regularly running Mullum Byron Bangakow and hardly anyone uses them except a few dozen schoolkids before and after school , There is virtually no demand. When the train did run between these 3 stops hardly anyone used it. The whole rail campaign has no one who can do the simple arithmetic which shows it is not viable

  4. Lydia Kindred’s railway fantasy continues to reach new heights. She is great at talking it up. Reality will prevail eventually but a lot of money and resources will be yet wasted on the dream.

    The last train ran in May 2004. In 2013, both sides of Parliament accepted the findings of a $2 million professional study and the railway was effectively abandoned. In September 2020 the line was formally closed and dedicated as a trail, allowing construction of the trail to commence.

    Northern River Rail LTD, the company behind this story, was registered over two months later in December 2020. The Directors of the company are nothing more than the long time proponents from TooT and NRRAG. After eighteen years they suddenly decide to get started on a commercial venture? Really?

    The whole railway investment story is a facade deigned to maintain the forlorn hope that one day the government is going to put trains back on this decrepit branch line if it can just be left in place. It is nonsense.

    Resurrecting a rail service on the original infrastructure after being abandoned for so long would certainly make this railway a world first. Typical legacy railway projects start up with preservation of the infrastructure and rolling beginning very soon after or even before commercial operations cease and are often performed by the same group of engineers who originally operated the commercial railway. We only have a small but enthusiastic passenger group. They are not capable of making it happen.

  5. So when you look at this bike path how much of council money is going to be spent in the on going up keep of the path.
    Much money is spent to pull up the line and sleepers and how much money was spent on bridges.
    Sure have a bike path but there really was no need to rip up the rail line.
    Look at that music festival they had up there just a few months ago and the crap fight they had trying to move people by the buses or should we say lack of buses.
    The main reason why the trains closed down was short sighted pollies and also a bad timetable in the end which lead to less numbers using the train.
    One has to wonder how much money is going to be spent on a bike path that people like my self will never use but could have visited by train because we dont own a bike or wish to strap a bike onto a car and drive 7hrs or so and get stuck in traffic jams around bryon bay.

    • Absolutely right andrew please may we have more people who speak the absolute truth against all these naysayers and bike trail nuts!!.

  6. The railway companies working together to bring rail services back to our Northern Rivers line are not waiting for the government to pay for it. There is potential to gain funding from other places as this service will be extremely popular from Byron Bay to Mullumbimby for starters and then up to Bangalow and to the Festival sites.
    The bike trail will only provide for up to 15% of locals and visitors who will use it, which is a waste of public resources when so many people need better public transport.
    In other areas when a rail service has been reintroduced they have proved to be incredibly popular, and will locally take thousands of vehicles off our roads, addressing our growing climate change issues with an eco friendly rail service.

  7. There was once three trains a day available in either direction from Lismore before the introduction of the XPT. The train from Lismore to Byron Bay early on a weekend morning was full of people of all ages but particularly the young on the way to the beach for the day. As the train had dropped off most passengers by this time there was plenty of room for surfboards. It was the XPT with its late night arrival on the Northern Rivers that crushed the daytime commuter timetable for the trains. The XPT then became a way for a bit of night life in Byron Bay without the danger of drink driving. To me, it reeks of not giving the same rights to rural people that city people get. Their trains are often virtually empty at different hours as well.

  8. I always see the usual lycra brigade turn up and bombard anything pro rail , how sad it is that they are so short-sighted and greedy they must demand the removal of public transport infrastructure for a short term fad . Equally interesting to note is the recent declaration of Tweed Shire and their public declaration that the proposed trail has no income and is reliant on leasing out land AND/OR buildings and infrastructure to fund the maintenance of the trail immediately stating what we already knew that ratepayers will again pay .
    Public transport is an imperative part of life for so many young and old , sick or well . Why are we pandering to the needs of a few greedy sods that desire to profit or entertain off this great asset ? It’s well known one in particular has already made a gross profit off the trails development without lifting a finger by way further suggesting alternative motives . Public transport is for everyone now and into the future , trails on the other hand are for an exclusive few , enjoy the rate rise associated with them as your state government asset is converted to a ratepayer burdon until its no longer viable and consequently sold off to developers just like other trails .

  9. Be very cautious when you read what the anti train brigade have written. Question their motives. You can count on there being something in it for them.

  10. NSW’s non-metropolitan passenger rail service never paid for itself; it existed only by virtue of being subsidised by freight rail.

    When freight rail was sold off to Australian National Rail (ANR), there was no further financial support for a non-profit, high-cost, state-funded service. That’s why it was dropped: simple economics.

    If people want a passenger rail service, let them fund it entirely themselves and not expect the state to cough up the money.

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