21 C
Byron Shire
September 21, 2023

Bangalow is not Kuranda

Latest News

Tweed Council seeks businesses to join it’s rail trail ‘Connect Program’ 

Paying for the maintenance and providing an engaging visitor experience for the Tweed section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail is a key aspect of Tweed Shire Council’s (TSC) Connect Program. 

Other News

Options explored to save Bruns native habitat

Byron Council could seek federal government intervention in a last-ditch effort to protect a pocket of precious bushland in Brunswick Heads from development.

Calling all local cricketers

The start of a new cricket season is fast approaching so new and returning players are welcome at the...

Jali Land Council accused of land grab

Around 80 residents of Cabbage Tree Island, just south of Wardell, say they want to return home after the 2022 floods, but the Local Aboriginal Land Council, Jali, have other ideas.

Editorial: It’s a social housing party!

After six months of bickering, federal political parties of similar stripes – Labor and Greens – came together and said ‘Yes’ to a $10b social/affordable housing package. 

Critical incident investigation underway over death of tasered woman

A Critical incident investigation is underway after the death of a woman who was hit with a police taser overnight in Stockton, near Newcastle.

Iron Gates development at Evans Head: application to ‘amend’ DA refused

The Land & Environment Court rejected an application to amend a development application for a satellite residential development at the controversial Iron Gates site at Evans Head. 

For millennia prior to the advent of rail two centuries ago, the primary motive force of terrestrial transport was the horse. Hence we have many equine idioms and a few come to mind when I think about the disused rail corridor and its accompanying controversy. There’s ‘horses for courses’, which means ‘what works well in one place might not work so well elsewhere’. And there’s ‘don’t stare a gift horse in the mouth’, which means ‘to squander an opportunity or be ungrateful for a gift’. And then there’s ‘flogging a dead horse’, which means ‘wasting energy on a lost cause’.

Peter Westheimer cites the Kuranda railway as an example of a successful tourist attraction, but I would point out that Byron Bay is not Cairns, Bangalow is not Kuranda and there is nothing comparable to the Barron Falls Gorge on the line between Byron and Bangalow. There are good reasons why the Kuranda railway is successful, but they don’t really apply to Byron. Peter knows that most people don’t want trains on their rail trail, given the costs, risks, and problems associated with Peter’s ‘off formation’ idea. There are good reasons why this hasn’t been done anywhere in the world.

The 2004 decision to close the local railway line wasn’t based on the whim of a lycra-clad cyclist, it was made by the state government following extensive studies and consultation with professional railway engineers and administrators. The last twenty years have only furthered the social and environmental processes that ultimately led to the closure of the line. The opportunity to make good use of the abandoned rail corridor by giving a green light to the rail trail remains a viable but neglected alternative to the policy paralysis preferred by our local Council.

For ten years, Councillor Basil Cameron held the line against the rail trail, preventing any progress toward realising this practical and affordable project. Now we have Councillor Peter Westheimer to carry on Basil’s legacy, perhaps another decade of indecision, all the while undermining the prospect and denying the benefit of a rail trail for the Byron Shire.

John Scrivener , Main Arm

Previous articleLabor forever
Next articlePlayground at Clarkes?

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Lets think about this logically, step by step. I would love for pro-train persons to provide a reply because they never do.

    1. Is the proposed railway re-opening as a train service a tourist proposal or is it for commuters?

    2. There is no data to support its use for commuters. The old slow train line might have been useful 50 years ago when the roads were slow and life was different, now people need to make multiple trips in one day, to shopping, kids activities, gym, etc + many people need to be flexible with working hours, we don’t all work 9-5 anymore. There is no data to suggest that the train would be used by any substantial number of commuters, hence why there is no evidence from the pro-train people. They are ideological based arguments, founded on nostalgia only.

    Who is going to drive down to the train station, wait for the train, catch a longer trip to work than driving, walk to work (could be Kms) then do the same in reverse, be stuck with the times the train leaves (its not going to run every 10 minutes) and how is this going to be cost effective for the train to keep running? its absolutely madness what these pro-train people are thinking. Most workers do not work in one location too.

    There is a reason why the car is so successful, they let us be independent based on modern work and lifestyle needs. A rail trail is also similar in that its there all the time for use. We are not in the city where train services will run every 15 minutes…would they run at once per hour or once every 2-3 hours?

    3. If it is a tourist proposal only, then a rail trail a more suitable tourist proposal, its non-polluting, (no diesal trains), cost effective and it gets people outside being active, it will attract people of all ages, so many other tourist benefits.

    This short analysis can never be rebuked by the pro-train group, they have no data or arguments based on the real world to go against logic.

  2. It’s well documented that THOUSANDS OF LOCALS, including politicians of all persuasions, have campaigned, and are still campaigning, FOR trains on their tracks. No one had even heard of ‘rail trails’.

    The decision to cease North Coast train service in 2004 was NOT based on any study, let alone discussion with the community about local transport needs. It was based entirely on what the government could get away with at the time as there were few votes to lose. They ignored, and continue to ignore, community outrage, millions of tourists and traffic gridlock. A state government study in 1997 recommended the line be extended from Byron Bay to Ballina and on to Lismore via Booyong.

    The bike track goes off formation around at least ten bridges and the whole track could have been built off formation at a fraction of the cost.
    Due to unsafe conditions on the track, ratepayers must fund safety rails as well as toilets and their maitenance. According to Tweed Councill’s estimate only around 700 people use the bike track per week (that’s only an estimate as cyclists don’t buy tickets) compared to 2,558 passengers per week on ONE train service per day. We can now see that the bike track is increaing traffic NOT reducing it. An hourly commuter service connected up to the Qld system and run at times to suit the needs of locals and tourists, would carry many even more people than the old XPT and, as the pollies rightly said, would be an ‘enormous social, environmental and cost benefit’.

    The state government is spending many millions upgrading train lines in Sydney to improve services, not ripping them up for a bike track.

    Around the world governments are increasing train services to reduce, or eliminate, domestic flights and toxic carbon emissions, including Japan.

    Rather than wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayers money building and maintaining new roads, increaing traffic gridlock and climate disasters, we need to do likewise asap!!

    But heaven forbid the documented facts get in the way of the ridiculous bike track fantasy.

    • For the past couple of years, rail advocate protests are lucky to attract ten people, and they are just the organisers. Claiming thousands is absolute nonsense. Politicians on both sides of parliament, both federal and state, are backing the rail trail. The train is not coming back.

      The community is not outraged about the train. It is ancient history. There are just a few very noisy train enthusiasts with an extraordinary sense of entitlement still wasting their time complaining. Meanwhile thousands of locals and visitors are enjoying the first section of the trail and eagerly awaiting the completion all the way to Casino.

      No government study ever “recommended the line be extended from Byron Bay to Ballina and on to Lismore via Booyong.” Louise is always claiming “documented facts” but has never provided a single reference for anything.

      Any claim that “the whole track could have been built off formation at a fraction of the cost” is utter rubbish without any factual basis at all. Even Tweed Shire mayor Chris Cherry, who was a leading advocate for an off formation design, has acknowledged that it would not have been possible to build the trail off the formation. That fact is blatantly obvious to anyone who has seen the corridor from the trail.

      No new toilets have been built for the trail. An upgrade announced last week to make the Burringbar public toilets disability compliant was long overdue. A similar upgrade is planned for the Murwillumbah Station toilets. If you think this is outrageous, I suggest you visit the only other toilet facilities currently available in the area in Buckley Park, South Murwillumbah.

      I don’t know where Louise gets the figure of 700 trail users per week but I passed more than that in a couple of hours on a Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago. Her train passenger number is a complete and utter fantasy.

      Railways are being upgraded in the Sydney region where 85 percent of the state’s population lives and works and trains normally carry a million passengers per day. The upgrades are to support speeds of 200 kph. Any suggestions of this region needing a multi-billion dollar railway to connect some small towns to the Gold Coast and running hourly services are completely baseless. No government anywhere is resurrecting services on abandoned branch lines.

      The only fantasies are coming from the railway activists and are now reaching truly ludicrous heights as they desperately try to stop the trail progressing.

    • Again and again, no real data or evidence that the train services are actually in demand on the old line, its all hocus pocus ideology, just like fossil fool advocates…you’re not that different!

      How can you compare a modern commuter train network in sydney servicing thousands of commuters with multiple rail lines and multiple services, to an old single line, slow-speed rail line in the rural country side?

      A new train line using fast modern trains along the highway corridor is needed connecting to QLD and coastal towns, not the old windy slow rail line servicing places like Eltham and Booyong (they don’t even have a local shop!).

      Please provide a link to a legitimate report and analysis that predicts commuter demand for the existing train line service….still waiting on this for the past 20 years….all you are trying to do is prevent progress and stop development (because its all bad in your eyes) based on an ideological position.

  3. The only similarities between the Kuranda train and a Bangalow train would be the $300,000 per month deficit that the Kuranda Tourist Train occurs . Yes it may be popular but it is a huge financial drain .
    Local residents don’t use it as a means of public transport as its fares are astronomical (even with a locals discount).
    Heritage tourist trains do not receive state government fare subsidies as they are not mobility access compliant.

  4. The Kuranda train’s success depends on how one chooses to define “success”. Before Covid, the losses on the two daily return services were averaging almost $10,000 per day or $3.6 million per year. It is subsidised by Queensland taxpayers.

    Closer to home there is the Mary Valley Rattler. In operation for five years, it has burnt through $10,000,000 from the Queensland government, another ten million from Gympie ratepayers and operators are seeking another ten million dollars as a loan to cover costs that are currently being delayed, despite never having ever broken even, let alone making a profit to cover interest charges, much less pay back the money they already owe.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Facelift for Cape Byron walking track – but not everyone happy

The Cape Byron walking track that leads from Wategos Beach towards the Byron lighthouse has been given a ‘facelift’ by NSW National Parks. But not all users are happy...

Varroa mite here to stay as NSW pivots from eradication to management of costly invasive species

The Varroa Mite ‘(Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni) is a parasite of adult honey bees and honey bee brood. It weakens and kills honey...

Cycling race in Lismore this weekend to raise money for Westpac Rescue Helicopter

Whether it is getting on the track or watching the cyclists there are plenty of ways to get on board with the Lismore 2023 – Byron Bay Cycle Club Road Race this Sunday 24, September in Lismore’s CBD.

Labor’s budget falls short on flood funding: MP

Tamara Smith, Member for Ballina and NSW Greens Disaster Relief Spokesperson, has welcomed an additional $150m in funding for the Northern Rivers and Central West flood recovery in Tuesday’s NSW budget.