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Byron Shire
September 21, 2023

‘Peace Train’ 

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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

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. 

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Tweed Council receive $197,000 for Black Cockatoos and Bush Stonecurlews

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The NRRC, shoving it down unwanted throats, just like despots. Sadly, I take the view that planning changes are inevitable....

‘…Thinking about the good things to come

And I believe it could be

Something good has begun…’ 

From ‘Peace Train’ by Cat Stevens.

If having imagination and vision on social policy is labelled as ‘living in fantasy land’, I’d like to see more of our elected representatives jump on the Peace Train proposition and enter that realm.

Counsellor Westheimer’s ambitious vision of public transport for our region that combines rail, bus services, cycle and walking trails need not be fantasy. No one can seriously talk about climate change and exclude dialogue on public transport investment just because it’s expensive. And we have a right to demand of government that they spend our ‘hard earned’ on projects that benefit the community into the future.

The Byron Shire is the most visited place in NSW after Sydney, and the fact that we have virtually no public transport in the Shire is irresponsible at all levels of government. Anyone who bothers to peek over the border will see the massive investment the Queensland government is making to develop rail and light rail links amongst other transport infrastructure leading up to the 2032 Olympics. It’s expensive, but it’s a long-term investment for the state. 

The Brisbane Olympics are only nine years away and there will be international teams and visitors attending the games from all over the world, many of whom will want to pop down to Australia’s most easterly point. I don’t hear any of our local, state or federal representatives talking about what will be needed on the Far North Coast of NSW to prepare for this.

How about we envision a rail link from Gold Coast airport down to the Byron Shire. Instead of thousands of visitors driving to Byron to holiday or to attend one of the festivals (adding to more traffic congestion and pollution), they could enjoy the comfort of a train trip. Let’s envision a walkway from Yelgun station over to the Splendour site.  

While it is frustrating that the notion of having a functioning rail line and an ‘off formation’ rail trail (one that operates alongside a rail line) is seen as quixotic by myopic bean counters, the fact is that important infrastructure projects need vision and money. Let’s ‘believe it could be’, and demand that of our elected representatives.

Samaya Askill, Mullumbimby

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  1. Gold Coast Light Rail runs through a densely populated area that is home to 600,000 people with ten million visitors annually. The short section so far completed carries ten million passengers per year. To put that in perspective, it is equivalent to moving the entire population of Lismore every day, 365 days a year. Trains run on it all day at seven minute intervals and at fifteen minute intervals well into the night. That is how the billions of dollars it cost to construct can be justified. The heavy rail connects the Gold Coast to another 2.5 million people in Brisbane.

    Expecting billions of dollars of public money to be spent connecting a few small towns to the Gold Coast by rail is patently ridiculous. The minimal amount of public transport currently available in Byron is not a reason to indulge a tiny fraction of the region’s population with an extraordinary extravagance.

    The Olympics is a one off, two week event. As such it does not constitute a basis for billions to be spent on metropolitan scale railway services in a small diffuse regional population. Nor can it be justified for a handful of music festivals per year where any analysis of the logistics would show that trains on a single line would make very little difference anyway.

    People can “believe” all they like and “demand” whatever of our governments but it isn’t going to make any difference. There isn’t going to be a train and constructing a rail trail anywhere but on the disused formation would be prohibitively expensive due to the necessity of building a second formation to raise the rail above the wetlands the corridor runs through. The prevalent myth promulgated by delusional rail advocates that the Tweed Valley Rail Trail could have been build for less off the formation is easily revealed as complete nonsense to anyone who uses the trail.

  2. Or you could just make the place less attractive to tourist, so they stop coming, thus freeing up the property and infrastructure for locals..

  3. Yes exactly Samaya.

    But the cost of a train service on the Casino to Murwillumbah line (which the NSW gov claimed in 2004 would be $88m over ten years and will NOT cost anything like billions) cannot be assessed in isolation. The cost to the environment, quality of life, and the economic cost of building and maintaining new roads for more carbon spewing traffic far outweigh the cost of any train service on the line. Any politician who claims they ‘support cycling tourism’ over reducing emissions and the transport needs of the community, are not worthy of a single vote.

    We know 133,000 people per year used the one daily, slow, painful train service to and from Casino, which returned more per dollar spent than Sydney trains. Many more will use modern, faster, regular commuter trains run at times locals and tourists need. Train services are a state government responsibility and politicians need to be held accountable. The political skullduggery and contemptable treatment of the North Coast community around this issue should not be supported by anyone, let alone our local MPs or council.

    The hard working people in this community deserve much better than this political rubbish from politicians whose only skills seem to be wasting eyewatering amounts of taxpayers’ money on rorts and barrels of pork.

    • The nine million dollars per year figure Louise quotes as the cost was never validated by any credible source and was specifically denied by the rail authority. In any case it is ancient history from two decades ago and the subsequent deterioration of the infrastructure is profound.

      There is no evidence for any effective economic, environment or social returns on the huge cost of resurrecting the railway and operating services. Quite the opposite. An independent study by an internationally recognised transport and infrastructure consultant company found that the cost would be enormous and the benefits enjoyed by a tiny minority who would largely contribute nothing to the cost while those actually paying had no use for it. The fact remains is that both sides of the parliament agreed that rail services will not be returned and that is the end of the matter.

      Any opinion about who is worthy of a vote is irrelevant. Election after election, hardly anyone has voted for candidates who promise the return of rail. Get used to how democracy works.

      The passenger figures are pulled out of the air. There was nothing like 360 passengers per day using the train between Casino and Murwillumbah. Not even close. I met the train several times in the late 1990s at Lismore and Murwillumbah and a handful of people would get off. The supposed profitability of the historical services on the branch line is a myth with no evidence to support it. Rail advocates simply keep repeating it in the hope that repetition will create credibility. It doesn’t and it won’t.

      No government is going to waste eye watering amounts of money to provide luxury public transport to a tiny minority in a sparsely populated region. The government will fund a trail and the evidence of public support for spending on that infrastructure is irrefutable.

      • Greg you are spot on, if closure of the line was THE most important and critical issue for people, than people would vote for that in the state election.
        A few noisy, stuck in the past, anti-progress, negative and ideological people are holding back a once in a life time opportunity here, its a shame the councillors seem to listen to some of these noise minority.
        There’s zero evidence for their claims and almost no logic to their reasons, but its funny how ideology works, you get fixated on a outcome and try to justify it backwards no matter the lack of evidence.

  4. What is quixotic is imagining a rail service in a regional area is, ipso facto, an environmentally superior form of transport compared with road-based equivalents. It is not supported by academic analyses of public transport that find rail is only less carbon intensive in shifting large numbers of people in large urban areas, like Sydney. It flies in the face of the advice given to the Legislative Council Inquiry by the government department responsible for environmental matters, and the advice in the Arup report that a shuttle rail would make little difference to the use of private vehicles. It also ignores the availability of EV buses that in places like Canberra that run for hundreds of kilometres on 100% renewable power, far more than any off the grid rail can.
    And what is just as quixotic is proclaiming with confidence that, beside the disused decrepit rail infrastructure, you can build a trail of the quality of the rail trail in Tweed that can attract 70,000 visits in just four months. The study by the Northern Rivers Joint Organisation on the benefits of completing he rail trail will advise where the rail trail can be built off the formation, so let’s read what is their advice.


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