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Byron Shire
February 1, 2023

The illegal rail trail

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Whilst our Tweed Council pushes the coming opening of their rail trail, there always were requirements that do not seem to have been complied with. Like, ‘Evidence of a viable and sustainable business model, for developing and maintaining the rail trail, and that effective community consultation, and, biosecurity concerns have been undertaken’.

So far it appears that the proponents will be providing not one dollar; that biosecurity issues are of no concern; that the state and federal governments supply the multi-million dollar funding; and that the Shire ratepayers will provide $400,000 of rate monies for maintenance each and every year. Sound like a  viable and sustainable business plan to you?

The answer to last week’s question re Laurel and Hardy. They spread millions of upholstery tacks over the ground that punctured the native’s bare feet! How simple and how clever!

Now, if you or I built another unauthorised dwelling on our property, then both the state government and Council would deem it an illegal building that must be removed. That is the law.

So, what happens when both the state government and Council bypass ‘due procedural process’ by removing the rail lines, then proceed to build their rail trail? It then becomes an illegal structure and should be immediately closed down prior to returning it to exactly what it was before, at their expense. There never was any serious community consultation as required by the state government, so they never had our approval.

We have approached the authorities many times. They just turn away. So, I would believe that we, the people, now have the right to take our own measures to close down the said illegal rail trail. I think they might then finally consider listening to us.

Mike Yarrow, Byangum


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7 COMMENTS

  1. In case anyone is actually trying to make the slightest sense of Mike Yarrow’s “Laurel and Hardy” reference, please be advised he is confusing his pre-Christmas Letter To The Editor in the Tweed Valley Weekly and the Byron Echo.

    As usual he is completely incoherent and delusional making unsubstantiated and nonsense claims.

    The rail trail is not illegal and his words are now bordering on incitement to commit criminal offences.

  2. You continue to repeat this nonsense that the rail trail is somehow illegal. Yet when challenged to do so you were unable to explain why the supposed illegality in funding was never raised int he NSW Parliament by your mates who opposed the rail trail being built on the formation : the Greens, One Nation or the Shooters. The rail trail funding is based on a professionally done business case that showed it would provide value for money as is required by all Commonwealth and NSW grant funds. The rate of return on the investment should in fact prove higher than was estimated when the funding was a agreed , as the competitive contracting process by Tweed Shire Council selected a company with a lower tender than was estimated.
    You continue to claim there was no consultation when it is available for any interested person to read on Department of Premier and Cabinet’s website. Similarly there is a published report of the consultations on biosecurity. These were referred to the Parliament when the railway was closed.
    You are not “the people”. The people overwhelmingly in this region voted for parties that unequivocally supported the rail trail . When Bill Fenelon ran for council on a platform to stop construction of the rail trail he was rejected by all but a small percentage of voters.
    We live in a democracy, not a dictatorship where repeating a lie about some supposed illegality of a project approved by the two governments, the two relevant councils and our Parliament somehow makes it true, it just tells us you – one individual – cannot accept the decisions of our democracy and its consultative, deliberative , approval and procurement processes.

  3. Mike spend your energy forcing the state government to proceed with the heavy rail south from Gold Coast Airport following the M1 corridor to Ballina and then either to Lismore/Casino or to Grafton.
    Tweed Shire Transport Strategy Document is not interested in the old steam age alignment rail corridor, it wants a modern alignment as stated above . The modern alignment supplies public transport to the booming coastal population as well as the existing inland communities.
    NRRAG and TOOTS also need to stop wasting energy on the unwanted slow rail corridor and work alongside Tweed Shire and Ballina Shire for a future modern rail system .
    Bring on modern trains .

  4. What is better? Tourist or passenger trains or cycle tracks? Exercise your own intelligence. Victoria spends over 4 billion for regional rail renewal. NSW govt supports tearing up existing rail lines in the regions to build cycle tracks. It is catering to a small professional cycling lobby and ignoring the interests and needs of the majority in the regions.

    • Siri Gamage – commuter trains on modern alignments are better than tourist or commuter trains on a slow meandering steam age alignment railway system. The old Northern Rivers line was always a very slow meandering line that kept workers in cars . The Tweed Shire Transport Strategy Document (easily found on the net) is not interested in the old rail route , it has stated a modern railway from Chinderah to Yelgun following the M1 corridor is its preferred option . Getting workers and freight onto rail requires modern rail alignments, not romantic nostalgic travel on routes built in the 1890s.

    • The train has not run for nearly eighteen years. In all that time, nobody has come forward with a proposal to run a tourist train.

      Tourist railways rarely exceed twenty kilometres in length and are set up almost immediately after the cessation of commercial services often using the same rolling stock that has been donated to the project. It would be completely unprecedented for a railway to be resurrected for tourism after so many years of decay, especially one across such difficult terrain and in the absence of any significant heritage railway enthusiast engineering group., which would usually consist of the people who had been operating the commercial services.

      Tourist trains running on otherwise non-operational lines are almost invariably financial black holes. On top of the ten million dollars originally contributed, Gympie Council continues to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars per year into the Mary Valley Rattler with no sign of it ever become sustainable. Despite this the project is now seeking a ten million “loan” to keep it running on top of the million dollar “loan” they already have from council. Gympie already had one of the largest heritage railway engineering groups in Australia before the Rattle Project got underway.

      Victoria is spending billions on upgrading operating railways for higher speed and safety. So is NSW in the regions where 85 percent of the state’s population live and work and trains normally carry a million passengers per day. Neither state is restoring services of any consequence on abandoned regional lines. Victoria started converting its disused railways to trails decades ago and continues to do so today, making that state the epicentre of trail tourism in this country. NSW has been slow to adopt the same sensible strategy but the tide has turned and will see millions of dollars spent by tourists in NSW who would have otherwise taken their money to Victorian or Queensland trails.

      The trail advocacy is not a small group, certainly not professionals and not all cyclists. Typical users are ordinary families, including grandparents and small children who can make use of trails because of the very gentle gradients and the absence of cars and trucks passing close by them. The almost completed Tweed Valley Rail Trail is already very busy even thought it is not yet open.

      Trail detractors insist on not acknowledging the fact that typically thirty percent of trail users complete their journeys on foot. They wouldn’t want anyone who doesn’t own a bicycle thinking that a trail might be relevant to them. It is intentionally misleading and fundamentally dishonest as are many of the other claims they make.

      Mr Gamage is highly active in attempts to stop the New England Rail Trail. He and other railway advocates need to start using some intelligence rather than indulging their irrational prejudices and spouting tired platitudes that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

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