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Byron Shire
April 24, 2024

Mixed messages on rail trail

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Recent statements by Byron Shire Mayor, Michael Lyon, in relation to his support for much-needed affordable housing being built along the rail corridor in Mullumbimby seem to be in contradiction to his other recent statements supporting the extension of solar train services from Byron Bay to Mullumbimby. But the state government and Transport for NSW (TfNSW) acknowledge that Byron Shire Council are still supporting a multi-use rail corridor (MURC).

Northern Rivers Rail Ltd (NRRL), along with other railway companies, project consultants and community organisations, all non-government entities, are working together to ensure regular rail services to the Byron and Lismore shires.

The NRRL Board notes that it is possible to have many uses for the land within the railway corridor, including a functioning railway service, a bike/walking path, possibly a separate horse bridle path and even sections of low-rise housing (affordable housing needs public transport) and more car parking as well.

Applications for the Byron Line by the Northern Regional Railway Company (NRRC) and the Lismore Line by Northern Rivers Rail Ltd are currently being considered by TfNSW and UGL Linx, for access, to conduct dilapidation studies. We can then look at costs to fix the Byron and Lismore shires’ sections of the Casino-Murwillumbah railway corridor and find the needed investment for the project.

All the elements must be taken into account when making the decisions that will affect Byron Shire’s sustainability in the very long term. It is crucial that we all be part of the decision-making process that Byron Shire and Lismore Shire must undertake regarding the future of our crucial Northern Rivers railway corridor.

Lydia Kindred, Northern Rivers Rail Ltd

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  1. Lydia’s farcical rail companies are nothing more than an attempt to stop the trail. They have nothing like the resources needed to undertake such a project. They have no employees and not even enough money to hire a manager let alone undertake a project costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

    They are funded by $20 subscriptions from the mostly old age pensioners who make up their numbers. They propose to use volunteers to rebuild the railway. One can just picture the geriatric amateur fettlers hard at work, carrying lengths of rail weighing many hundreds of kilograms and hammering in the spikes by hand.

    Anyone who wanted to start up rail services on the old line has had nearly two decades to do it, yet even when the legislation to convert two sections of the corridor to trails was put through NSW parliament in 2020, no rail projects were put forward by anyone. Northern Rivers Rail LTD was formed weeks later.

    Reopening a line after twenty years of neglect and severe decay of the infrastructure would be unprecedented. The very small number of successful tourist rail operations that have been set up on old lines in Australia have been initiated very quickly after (or in some cases before) the closure of the original commercial or government services with work on the preservation of the tracks and bridges commencing immediately.

    Their shelf company is a futile attempt to buy credibility in an effort to stop the trail in the forlorn hope that some radically different future State government would someday pour billions of dollars into connecting a few small town together for the benefit of a tiny minority. They are wasting their time. Don’t let them waste everyone else’s time too.

  2. The initial engineering study for a proposed Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NRRT) examined the viability of building a rail trail along the disused Casino Murwillumbah railway corridor, suitable for cycling and walking be people of all ages and abilities. It advised:
    “In a majority of locations, the removal of track, sleepers and ballast material will be required, where a trail cannot be economically formed adjacent to the existing line and remain within the existing railway corridor boundary. Given the relative narrowness of the corridor along the majority of the route, there will only be select locations, such as the Byron Bay town centre where existing rails, sleepers and ballast can remain and a trail formed immediately adjacent.
    In certain locations, typically where the formation or corridor width allows, it may be possible to form the trail adjacent to the rail, allowing for existing rail sections to remain in place as a reminder of the origins of the rail corridor.”

    Subsequent detailed examination for the design proposals for the Tweed and the Casino to Eltham stages confirmed that assessment. So too did the outcome of the Tweed contracting process, which rejected as non-conforming a tender made in response to a proposal by the Northern Rivers Railway Action Group’s engineer to build a path along the uneven natural ground, which council engineers found did not include the “bulk earthworks” required to build a path beside, nor did it take into account the issues of the high voltage cable running beside the line. The rail lobby has not put forward any detailed engineering assessment of the corridor that supports its “belief” that multi use is feasible. I would note too while the NRRT has brought the community along at every stage of its development with publicly available information , none of the companies has provided anything beyond their beliefs and wishes to help the government , council and people of NSW and Byron and Lismore LGAs undertake a timely decision-making process regarding the future of our Northern Rivers railway corridor.
    The Northern Rivers Joint Organisation with the support of all mayors successfully applied for a $485,000 to assess the feasibility of completing the Northern Rivers Rail Trail and its link to Ballina. That will include an examination of the viability of the Multi Use of the Rail Corridor to Mullumbimby. Mayor Michael Lyons reiterated to me yesterday at the opening of the Tweed Valley Rail that he would like to see it brought to Mullumbimby, and investigating that and linking it to Brunswick Heads has been agreed by Council. It is important to remember too a path along the corridor is a Priority A in the Byron Shire Bike Plan.
    The opening of the NRRT was hugely successful and provides us all with the opportunity to ride or walk all or part of it down to the sad looking overgrown tracks and corridor south of Wooyong Road near the Shire boundary . You can now see how, while it might have been possible to build a bike track for fit mountain bikers beside the corridor, it would not have had the broad appeal of the wonderful rail trail we have built.

    • Anyone using the Tweed Valley Rail Trail can now see first hand the folly of the claim by some rail advocates that any kind of track could or should have been built off the formation at any cost, let alone within the available budget.

      There are several places where the formation passes though very steep cuttings many metres high that extend all the way between the boundaries of the corridor. In some locations there are even concrete retaining walls in place to hold back the steep cuttings. There was simply nowhere a trail could have been built in these locations.

      In other places the embankment consumes most of the corridor width. Any off formation trail would have had to have been built in the drainage ditches at the edge of the corridor and in some places through dams and permanent watercourses. A number of bridges the trail passes under have pylons immediately adjacent to the formation with nowhere that a trail could have been built other than on the formation.

      The wholesale removal of trees to build an off formation trail would have destabilised the railway formation itself and completely wrecked the amenity of the trail.

      Those who continue to disagree with these facts can begin their argument by telling us on which side of the formation they believe the trail could have been built.

      • Spot on Greg, I came here to say this after riding the trail at the weekend. There would have been minimal areas where the rail trail could run off formation resulting in a significantly more expensive trail build. Its clear that the NRRL is formed to obstruct and spread misinformation about the rail trail. A rail service that can only travel between Mullum and Byron is quite ridiculous when a bus service is more than adequate for the small volume of patrons. The current solar train only has services once an hour and costs $10 return to travel 3km along a perfectly flat section without bridges.

  3. In who’s interest is it , to vandalise and demonise the totally public-owned rail corridor which would be able to link Sydney, Melbourne, The Gold Coast and Brisbane , through our region ?
    I believe it is obvious from the vehemence and hysterical nature of this on going campaign, that there are vested interests at work here.
    The road transport industry is profiting enormously by denying cheap, green bulk rail cargo and I wonder if Queensland business interests have an agender to contain tourist spending to the Sunshine State.
    Whatever the machinations involved, it is obvious that horsey trails and bike lanes have nothing to offer to justify the permanent destruction of this irreplaceable community-owned asset.
    Cheers, G”)

    • Yes there certainly are vested interests at work Ken. The dodgy state government sees nothing but $ signs in the valuable land along the rail corridor. The train line did not have to be destroyed for a bike track-it could have been built much cheaper alongside the train line. So the only reason to destroy the line was to make it easier to sell off the land.

      MP for Tweed, Geoff Provest, knows there’s no community support for this bike track. He’s had numerous full page election ads in the Tweed papers for months and the bike track is such a vote winner he DOESN’T DARE MENTION IT.

      But wait, there’s more. There were around twenty people at the opening-four cyclists, one rickshaw thingy, a invited guests, and few pollies hiding at the back of the photo, the rest were school children sans bicycles.

      The bike track is nothing more than political corruption on steroids. The consequences will be more climate disasters for the Northern Rivers from millions of filthy, gas guzzling cars creating traffic gridlock in our towns.

      • There were acrually far more people at the opening of the rail trail. It was though an invitation only event with limited numbers, and I’m sure NRRT was disappointed not to have been able to send you an Eventbrite invitation.
        The politicians from all supportive parties were photographed out the front for the ribbon cutting, with Mayor Chris Cherry, who at the launch spoke in a most supportive way of how it was now time now to enjoy the trail they had built. Geoff Provost talked about the last train leaving Murbah station and was up front that he had changed his mind following the findings if the (ARUP) report. Thomas George was reminded of his undertaking to ride it on its first day. Janelle Saffin spoke and it was a fine example of the bipartisan nature of so much of government.
        There were two trishaws, one for the elderly and one for wheelchairs, the first of many that will allow the elderly and disabled to enjoy the rail trail. The first one over the ribbon carried Mrs Margo Anthony ; Doug Anthony was a patron of the rail trail, and a great advocate for cycling infrastructure ,who rode to Parliament every fine day in Canberra. There were indeed a bunch of students from Mt St Patricks who set off – all were on bikes – for a try of the rail trail. They enjoyed it so much the teachers couldn’t get them to turn back until after the Burringbar tunnel. Our friend Greg was on his unicycle ; I had my bike amd trailer, carrying our foxxy, the unofficial NRRT mascot. About twenty or so other cyclists and some runners and cyclists headed off to join the many already in the trail since the morning.
        If you take the time to walk or cycle or visit the rail trail as you are able, you will appreciate why people are smiling along its smooth patheay and shady avenues. If you look to either side you can see why a “bike track ” built down on the the muddy natural formation that might have been used to a few young fit mountains bikers ,would not have appealed to the broad range of people I met riding and walking the rail trail last Wednesday.
        The only question now is how soon we can bring this happy experience up to Mullumbimby and Brunswick Heads , and in due course connect it to Lismore and Ballina..

      • Louise’s tired platitudes and irrational nonsense are becoming increasingly inane, repetitive and boring. I’ve already demolished the myth about constructing a trail alongside the line in my post above.

        Louise has built an edifice of myth upon myth and it is collapsing under its own burden. It is high time she gave up on the utterly ridiculous fantasy that the corridor is being prepared for sale. Who on earth does she think is going to build a long narrow development with very little access from any roads?

        The support for this trail from the community is enormous with hundreds of locals already enjoying it daily. In fact they have been doing so for weeks even before the trail opened but the opening has taken it to a new level. The community is certainly never going to let this awesome trail be taken from us, ever, for whatever reason.

        Clearly Louise was not at the opening of the trail where hundreds of people attended, limited by invitation. The politicians were doing anything but hiding. The group of about a dozen delighted school students, who were indeed on bicycles, rode all the way beyond the Burringbar tunnel and back. The original plan was for a much shorter ride but they didn’t want to stop because they were having so much fun.

        The grand public opening is on the the weekend of 25-26 of March. It promises to be a joyful celebration of the best thing that has happened in the Tweed Valley in a very long time. I hope everyone can come along and see this fantastic trail for themselves.

      • nostalgia is a strong emotion, it often overrides logic and common sense.

        it would be cheaper and more beneficial to have a new high-speed rail line along the highways connecting towns, where it can provide trips in an efficient manner and connect to SE QLD.

        the old rail line would attract the nostalgic tourists that is about it, people use cars because they can carry equipment, go multiple places in one day etc. and deal with multiple specific trips.

        for example if your in Lismore and want to go to broken head beach via train, you would have to spend time:
        – waiting for train
        – 1 hour trip to byron station
        – wait for a bus
        – 20 minute bus ride to broken head

        then do the reverse.

        + if you have kids to take places, shopping to do etc, what are you meant to do?

      • Oh dear Louise, it seems your delusional state is not improving, the rail line on its present corridor is gone for good, (no more choo choo), most intelligent people realized this years ago, maybe you should take a break, stop listening to the crazy Greens, do some meditating and rejoin the real world when you are feeling better.

    • Ken makes a lot of hysterical, completely unsubstantiated assertions without the slightest evidence.

      The corridor is still owned by the community as a trail, with a lot more people who will use it than the tiny minority who would use a train to nowhere. There never was a railway from the Northern Rivers to the Gold Coast. Such a project has already been costed at well over $2 billion and the documentation is available at the Tweed Council website. The proposed route does not include Murwillumbah but instead runs close to the motorway where it would be more accessible to the growing coastal populations and cut nearly twenty kilometres off the journey to Byron and beyond.

      Trains will never again run on the corridor between Crabbes Creek and Murwillumbah where it ran parallel to the least used main road in the whole shire. The train has been gone for almost twenty years and was clearly not going to come back. The trail did not take away the train.


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