Readers would be forgiven for not understanding where, what or when is happening with the Rail Trail proposal. For those not up to speed, the Rail Trail is part of the ongoing debate on how to best use the 130 km of redundant rail line that runs from Murwillumbah in the north to Casino in the southwest. There a few opposing views on this issue (no surprise there) so please read on to get the download and get on board as the proposal is at a crucial juncture.
The Northern Rivers Rail Trail committee wants to raise $70,000 for the design costs of a community trail between Casino and Eltham. There is a crowd funding appeal on and they are, as of yesterday, up to $62,500 – which is close to the target. Please go online and donate before the 6th of July, before it closes. This is just a part of the longer proposed trail running between Casino and Murwillumbah.
To help provide a bit of background there are three main camps:
1. The Rail Trail
The Northern Rivers Rail Trail proponents want to follow a proven model from around the world and convert the track to a walking and bike-riding path. There are any number of successful rail trails on abandoned rail track in NZ and Europe. New York City has the High Line, which is a roaring success. Tweed Shire is fairly advanced in their planning and Richmond and Lismore Shires have this current crowd sourcing fundraiser to get their end going (northernriversrailtrail.org.au). If shires on both sides of Byron get it up, BSC will have to then get on board as well.
NR Rail Trail say new jobs will be created and there will be all sorts of opportunities for resourceful, creative people to get involved. Electric bikes, soft-wheeled vehicles, cargo bikes, wheelchairs and horses can use the trail. If you support this option, it would be a good idea to make a donation. They also have face book page – Northern Rivers Rail Trail Supporters or go to the website for more info – northernriversrailtrail.org.au or https://chuffed.org/project/the-northern-rivers-rail-trail-a-community-trail
2. The Byron Line
Mayor Simon Richardson has another proposal, called the Byron Line. This is a combination of both the Rail Trail idea coupled with a light train service to ferry tourists and commuters to alternative areas of the shire. However the fare costs may be prohibitive to kids and pensioners, the most likely customers.
The mayor is lobbying for a $200,000 budget to do a feasibility study on this idea. I support this to go ahead and hope it happens as we can find out if it really is feasible. I appreciate Simon’s enthusiasm and vision – isn’t that what we want in our politicians? However, there are many critics and skeptics to this idea. The extra cost is one thing, but many cannot see how the width of the rail line can carry a train track and a walking/bike path on the many bridges, culverts and tunnels. It just wont fit. Lets see what the “feaso” says.
Trains On Our Tracks is a lobbying organisation wanting to keep the existing rail line intact to eventually bring back rolling stock and public passenger trains. I understand and appreciate many people have a yearning and nostalgia for train travel. But to me this is misdirected energy. We are talking 19th century technology and the idea we will go back to this is very unlikely.
If you are keen on trains, putting energy into securing the land between Murwillumbah to Coolangatta would be a much better strategic plan. The modern electric line that runs from the Brisbane airport to Robina is to be extended to Coolangatta. Our existing train gauge in NSW is different to Queensland and joining with this track and destination would make more sense.
So there you have it. Either way this is an interesting topic and something to keep an eye on going forward.
If you want to donate to the Rail Trail cause, please find their campaign at chuffed.org