FROM FACEBOOK: Federal Government Declines Funding for Rail Trail

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VOICE of BYRON regular, Julia Chapple, commented on recent news that the Federal Government has declined to join the NSW Government in funding the Murwillumbah Rail Trail. 

“We are delighted to hear that the Federal government has declined the funding request for the Murwillumbah Rail Trail despite the support of the NSW government.

“Bike paths are all well and good but not when they mean ripping up our railway tracks and losing the whole corridor from Casino to Murwillumbah.

“Only under the 99A Transport Administration Act are the existing railway tracks protected from being ripped up. A bike path could easily go alongside the railway track as proposed by Byron Council. We don’t understand why the bike lobby group don’t support having both.

“This region’s population growth can only be served by better public transport. Our population is growing and our tourist population is 4.6 million/year.

“International tourists visit Byron Bay as the iconic tourist destination in this area. With regular, commuter trains they could travel to other towns and villages spreading the economic benefit. Many people aren’t prepared to travel on our congested and damaged roads so the benefit is lost to other parts of the region.

“Our community is beginning to wake up to the increasing problems of traffic congestion, road damage and lack of transport options. We need trains in this area and people no longer accept the government’s inaction on the real needs of this region.

“The Northern Rivers Railway Action Group (NRRAG) holds a market stall regularly in Lismore and people walk up all day long, sign our petition and tell us passionately how much they want trains back and how little trust they have left in this government.

“Recently during his speech to the motion of the Tumbarumba rail trail legislation, the Minister for Transport, Andrew Constance stated, ‘We have literally thousands of kilometres of disused rail infrastructure across this state because of an archaic provision in the Act. It is ironic that, as Minister of Transport, I can close a rail service but I cannot order the lifting of rail lines. To do so, I must ask the approval of this parliament.’

“We would ask the Minister for Transport why close rail lines when so many council areas in regional Australia can’t afford to fix their roads? Why support a bike path instead of public transport that supports the many instead of the few? You can put a bike path anywhere without having to rip up railway lines to do it.

“NRRAG believes regular trains on our tracks is affordable, safer and more efficient. All across the world nations are turning to rail as the most equitable and sustainable mode of transport.”


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3 comments on “FROM FACEBOOK: Federal Government Declines Funding for Rail Trail

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Tim Shanasy on August 11, 2017 7:42 am

Dear Julia,
The main reason why trails are not possible alongside the vast majority of the corridor, is plain to see, if anyone is prepared to go and have a look at the right topography of cliffs, drainage, bridges and tunnels.
Other reasons include the prohibitive cost of rail, which flies even vastly higher when reshaping the corridor to accommodate a trail as well.
Dreaming of all this, is akin to dreaming of a lear jet for Xmas.
Good luck Julia.
And if you think too, that government funding grows on trees, then you may like to consider why the rail service had its funding pulled 13 years ago.

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Jillian Spring on August 13, 2017 2:48 pm

The train service was making $2million per annum, $11million cost. Min Michael Costa actually said the rail: it would cost $188 million to maintain over the next 20years. He even said alternatives, such as light rail & an extension to Queensland. Wow, how about that. To maintain – $188m over 20yrs! WOW! Fancy that now! We have been ripped-off!

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Alan McGregor on August 14, 2017 2:31 am

I hear another public transport forum is coming in September; could we have a two on the day, as the region is so difficult to travel through without a rail service to get to these events. We’d need a bus service just to get people from Lismore/Casino to Murwillumbah meetings.

Tim Shanasy and other people smugly living on the coast, and not wishing to visit Casino, do not understand that people need to travel across the region and into Brisbane – buses can never get people across the region and back on the day, but rail can.

This is what I’ve found talking with people: Healthier cyclists that drive around have no empathy for people in the west particularly. Even for Tamara Smith, Casino may as well be ‘Terra Nullius’. The environment, including the coast must be easily accessed, as with all amenities in the region.

Why should people in Bathurst get $15 return day rail travel to Sydney [$2.50 for pensioners] at 242 kilometres distance, and Lismore to Brisbane get awkward bus services for over $20 concession each way, that takes the next day to return?

When the Commonwealth Games arrive, Australia will be seen as a very backward place.

Rail trails are for dying outback towns. Removing railway services makes this happen even faster. People will not settle here without rail, and those that have are regretting it and leaving.

Population growth has started to decline in Ballina, Lismore and Kyogle. ‘Outsiders’ and tourists have enough experience of the modern world to know that the region is going backwards.

What a disaster ripping up the old Gold Coast line was! How many $billions more will it cost to attempt to get it back in front of the Gold Coast airport even?

People do not learn from history, but we should try it this time.

Let’s move into the 21st century. Lismore, ‘Re-connect the Heart’, and build above the flood-line along the railway corridor. Rail services will get sustainable development, tourism and employment happening where it is needed.

Let’s forget about the state government and get a not-for-profit community co-op multi-funded from various sources. Bring this up at the forum.

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