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Byron Shire
December 8, 2022

Using the future rail line

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Our rail line in Byron Shire is strategically located within two regional transport corridors that intersect at Ewingsdale. There is an opportunity to use the line as a way forward to a sustainable transport network.

There is simply no other way to avoid ongoing traffic pressures in our towns, villages, and on rural roads if we pretend otherwise. Why? Because the majority of traffic originates outside the Shire and currently we are over-reliant on a single road – the M1 – and no alternative infrastructure. So it doesn’t matter how many bike paths and walking tracks we construct locally, it will not provide movement alternatives for visitors or locals that can ease these growing pressures.

It simply does not make economic, social, or environmental sense to spend millions of dollars ripping up vital infrastructure.

The Multi Use Rail Corridor Study showed that the section between Byron Bay and Mullumbimby can support on-demand rail and road public transport for $12.3 million – a level of investment confirmed by experienced and independent rail engineers who have prepared a business case. By comparison, the only response from Transport for NSW is to spend over six times as much ($78 million) to build a series of elevated concrete ramps at Ewingsdale to stack queuing traffic. This does nothing to provide alternatives or reduce the growth of traffic pressures. It only makes the situation worse and will lead to increasingly large diversions of dollars, more ramps and congestion on local roads.

If the NSW Government took the blinkers off this could be the first step towards a rail link to the border region that will diversify movement options for travellers to and within the Shire. As proposed by Council’s Moving Byron Transport Strategy, this provides alternative movement pathways not dependent on negotiating the Ewingsdale interchange. It would be a major boost to public transport linking poorly connected local bus services. In addition a multi-use proposal would provide safe walking and cycling, helping to promote the uptake of active movement.

Councillors and State MPs need to start representing the movement needs of all in our community and ensure that transport investment meets the current and long-term needs of our community before our Shire starts to look and feel like a satellite of the Gold Coast and its traffic nightmares.

Basil Cameron, Goonengerry

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  1. Basil cites “Council’s Moving Byron Transport Strategy” but neglects to mention that, during its preparation, council rejected a study undertaken by transport professionals, preferring the unqualified opinion of none other than Mr Cameron himself, when he had been on the council. The professional advice conflicted with the personal prejudices of some councillors like Basil who was long time President of local railway advocacy group, TooT.

    The notion that resurrecting this railway would provide the best value spend of public transport funds is nonsense. The vast amounts of infrastructure is not commensurate with the small population of the region, very few of whom it could service. All previous studies have shown it would benefit only a tiny proportion of the regional population, making it highly inequitable expenditure.

    The transport professional’s study recommended improving the bus services, something council has ignored while they pursue their glorious dreams of railways.

  2. But Basil you dismissed the information from a transport engineer who told you that the train would not provide your desired outcomes . Even the Byron Solar Train owners said it would cost $30M to get the line from Bayshore Drive to Mullum back into a state of running its rail motor.
    The Arcadis report didn’t even venture into the rail corridor between Tyagarah and Macauley’s Lane , the worst section of line in the whole of Byron Shire except for the St Helena incline .
    Very few councillors have even done a ground truthing walk along the line to understand the complexities of reinstating what the Slowing Byron team pushed for ie a very slow very light snail train.
    A fleet of electric shuttle buses should have been running many years ago but Basil you kept dreaming of these nostalgic slow snail trains that time dependent workers won’t use .
    Stop pushing your unicorn fantasies .

  3. Wow!! $30m to repair the line from Bayshore Dr to Mullum, about six ks, but only $1.8m to repair three kilometres of line, including a bridge, to Bayshore Dr.

    Mmmm. Either people have no idea what they’re talking about or are deliberately making things up.

    The fact that local taxpayer funded buses run around empty most of the time as they take much longer to travel the same distance as the train, and don’t connect local towns, which the train line does, is also ignored. Just how many millions the large, empty coaches that replaced the train are costing taxpayers is also a mystery-they won’t tell us so it’s clearly waaay too much.

    Once again it shows that those who are keen to rip up a valuable train line worth billions and spend eyewatering millions of taxpayer’s money replacing it with bike track are happy to condemn this fast-growing region to road gridlock forever- and will say anything to justify their cause. Sounds like something out of Monty Python.

    It’s easy to be selfish when you don’t have to live with disruption of traffic gridlock on a daily basis and aren’t concerned about the climate crisis or the mess your children will inherit.

    • Buses running virtually empty is not an argument for introducing a mass transit system between very limited destinations to serve a tiny minority.

      Get a grip on reality.

  4. Louise it is 12.3km from Bayshore Drive to Mullum Station with 95% of it on a 2 metre high embankment above the floodplain and around 16 bridges , with 1 long bridge totally missing.
    You should walk the line to see it’s construction, the Arcadis team didn’t inspect the line between Tyagarah and Macauley’s Lane as it was an impenetrable jungle .
    As I said it was the owners of the Solar Train who stated it would cost $30M and that was about 5 years ago.

  5. These people are in dreamland, why do people drive cars? because they are highly effective at getting people to their exact location , on time and ability to move goods, and also multiple locations in a row in one day.

    The world has changed, how many people are going to use the rail to go to work or to go shopping, when they have to get to the shops from the rail station or the work place or the school to pick up kids, your absolutely dreaming if you think this is going to make a dent in the car trips.

    We do need a fast speed , regional rail connecting to south-east queensland along the highway corridor all the way down to ballina with multiple stops along the way, this would be effective for people wanting to travel to the region or out of the region and between towns, however it needs to use a brand new modern rail line, not the old one its completely not suitable to high speed rail and would be cheaper to build than to retrofit.

    the rail trail should proceed to make use of the old infrastructure its outdated and better put to a more active use. Some people just don’t want any progress, stuck in the past and like to think that the world doesn’t change…

    • The only set minds are those of the rail advocates who refuse to acknowledge the reality that trains on the old corridor would be a very expensive, ineffective public transport solution.

      Nobody is going to pay the countless millions to resurrect the tracks just so they can lose millions more running services at a loss. There isn’t going to be a train. The only alternatives are the trail or nothing.


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