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Byron Shire
February 9, 2023

Close the Rail Trail

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How or why should we close The Rail Trail down? It is clear now ‘due procedural process’ was not followed.

The federal government Department of Infrastructural Assets personally decided not to ask for approval for the rail trail from the Department of Infrastructural Assets in case it was rejected. So they themselves signed off on it, thus denying us any opportunity to oppose their decision.

Would you fight and join The Resistance?

I know where I stand, but where would you stand? The so-called rail trail was supposed to represent one of the pillars of our democracy, a clean example of how a majority of residents make a decision. But it has been white-anted by the deliberate avoidance of complying with ‘due procedural process’.

A local here, ex-Scotland Yard in England, once told me the hardest people to catch are those who act alone and never tell even their friends of their exploits! Learn from it.

Vive La Resistance!

Mike Yarrow, Byangum

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  1. Mike Yarrow perfectly illustrates the increasingly desperate and bizarrely delusional nature of a small band of rail advocates still clinging to the notion that they can stop and even revert the rail trail. So apparently, according to Mr Yarrow, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts (to give its full name) didn’t ask itself for approval to close the railway and dedicate the corridor as a trail? Talk about clutching at straws.

    The decision to close the railway and any subsequent use of the corridor is not within the jurisdiction of the federal government let alone the Department of Infrastructure. It is entirely the responsibility of the NSW state government and was done in Parliament with the full support of both the Government and Opposition. Validly legislated. Done.

    The Minister of the federal department has approved the grants that helped fund it under the auspices of Regional Infrastructure Development. End of story.

    The Tweed Valley Rail Trail isn’t going to close. Not now. Not ever. The rest of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail will eventually be built. Get over it Mike.

  2. Yes Mike, not only is the destruction of this valuable rail line a climate crime in an area screaming out for public transport, it’s also costing taxpayers’ billions for road works to cater for millions of tourists to the region who otherwise could catch a train.

    As the Liberals/ Nationals promised for many years “a sixteen-trains-a-day commuter service could be provided within the current rail corp budget… it would cost $1.6m per year to run, which came in under the $2.8m cost of the current bus service”. They also said the next step would be to build the rail link between Murwillumbah and the Gold Coast. Then Leader of the Opposition Mr O’Farrell said “the social, environmental and flow-on economic benefits (of the rail service) were enormous”.

    So what do they waste OUR money on- a bloody expensive bike track for a few fit cyclists that’s costing almost as much as trains!!

    If corporations wasted shareholders’ money in this way they would face prosecution. The same should apply to politicians.

    • The suggestion that rural rail is an efficient way to provide low emission local public transport in low density rural areas has been long dismissed by transport experts. The 2004 Legislative Council Inquiry into the closure was told it was not possible to conclude the coaches that replaced the XPT were more polluting; it depended on the number of passengers carried. That was more than a decade before EV buses were put in use in Australia like those in ACT that run hundreds of kilometres on a charge of renewable energy. The PwC report you refer to that the LNP funded was dismissed by the NSW rail authorities in its advice to the same Legislative Council Inquiry as under-costed, having insufficient staffing and attention to safety, and optimistic estimates of patronage and fare revenue. ARUP, which is an international rail transport consultancy firm, the lead consultants for the Gold Coast light rail and design consultants for the ACT light rail, similarly found a shuttle rail here was not viable and that more frequent bus services were a better way to meet the myriad public transport demands of our dispersed region..

      Accordingly nearly a decade ago the Government concluded it would not restore rail. Rather than embracing the emerging possibility of providing affordable zero emission road transport to all of the towns in our area, some people remain fixated on one transport route servicing a minority of the area’s population that requires the expensive restoration of a railway and its ongoing maintenance..

      The Government is willing to re-purpose the disused corridor land for a rail trail. Not the muddy uneven “track” on the natural formation for “a few fit cyclists” that some rail enthusiasts tried to convince the Tweed public was a rail trail that could be built beside the rails, but a properly constructed smooth level path on the existing formation, able to be used by anyone from eight to eighty eight – and their dog too – who can walk, cycle, or perhaps enjoy the rides in tri-shaws provided by the Tweed Cycling Without Age. Walking and cycling are the most popular recreations in Australia and anyone who has seen the rail trail in Tweed can understand why even before it is opened it is attracting huge public interest around NSW and especially SE QLD, The rail trail will support small businesses from Murwillumbah to Casino, with links to Brunswick Heads, Ocean Shires and even Ballina. So much better value than the more than ten million dollars the Government has wasted on the minimal maintenance of the disused rail corridor

  3. Mike the future heavy rail train system will be following the M1 from GC Airport to Yelgun as per Tweed Shire Transport Strategy Document 2009. From Yelgun it should continue straight to Ballina Airport perimeter and then towards Grafton or via Alstonville/Goonellabah to Casino . The old steam age alignment NR line is dead and buried so we can only hope that TOOTs and NRRAG spend their energy pushing for a modern rail system that will get people out cars and freight off our highways .

  4. Putting aside the absurdity that Greg points out of what you have written , it is surely a bit late to be questioning the process for the Commonwealth part of the shared funding, The Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NRRT) has been agreed by the Commonwealth and NSW funding agencies , by Tweed and Richmond Valley councils , and by the overwhelming majority of the NSW Parliament; construction has started in Richmond Valley and it is nearing completion in the Tweed. Commonwealth funding must meet the fundamental criteria of being value for money in all the circumstances, and the business cases for stages one and two of the NRRT demonstrate it easily meets that criteria with a positive return on investment.

    If there were questions about the process of Commonwealth funding why did you not get the Greens, One Nation or the Shooters to ask the then minister in Federal Question Time, or raise the matters during the debates in the NSW Parliament on the closure of the lines? In fact the Greens have been very supportive of the concept and value of a path along the disused rail corridor. Tamara Smith spoke eloquently on the benefits of rail trails in support of the closure of the Rosewood Tumbarumba rail corridor, and Greens members spoke in favour of the concept in the closure of the Northern Rivers corridors and during the debates on the recent legislation to enable the rail trails to be built in NSW. The concern of the Greens was not the value for money of the rail trail, but their wish that the rail infrastructure remain in place.

    The rail trail is a re-purposing of disused corridor land for active recreation and transport that is good value for public money. It has been subject to extensive public consultation, and was identified as a priority in local infrastructure funding plans (Lismore) and in the Byron Bike Plan, every local member of parliament supports it, as do all mayors and most councillors . All but one Byron councillors present agreed to investigate extending it from Mullumbimby to Tweed, and all agreed last week to commence planning a path that will use part of the rail trail to connect Mullumbimby to Brunswick Heads.

    You might call for resistance against decisions that you do not care for made by our elected governments and councils based on expert advice and extensive community consultation, but don’t pretend that that has anything to do with democracy.


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