Casino to Murwillumbah line to remain closed

 
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

The line is owned by the NSW Govt, so if the line is to be reopened, it will be the NSW Govt who does it
and they wont be restoring the line on a shoe string basis.
MD
Wrong.

Anyone can lease the line if they believe there is an economic benefit in it or they feel charitable.

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  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Care to show us the legislation that says that.
The Owner of the track has to agree to lease the line in the first place.
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

Care to show us the legislation that says that.
The Owner of the track has to agree to lease the line in the first place.
MD
True. Because the land is owned by a foreign Monarch rather than people of NSW Smile
In reality such leases have always been facilitated (Oberon, Cooma, Thirlmere,etc)
  boromisa Junior Train Controller
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
Wrong. Anyone can lease the line if they believe there is an economic benefit in it or they feel charitable.
boromisa
True provided you answer all the government transport questions and pass the probity, public insurance and operational tests etc etc. The lack of fully commercial business groups opening lots of non used lines suggests hard nosed realistic real world business groups do not consider it worthwhile. Simple rule; banks and investors loan money and operators have to make a profit and replay the money or no deal.

As some know, I have researched the history of several private tramways and the money question was the cause of the closures of these sugar, timber and tourist ventures. Dreamworld theme park recently stopped expensive to operate real steam locos and replaced with a fair ground look-a-like because operating costs matters. Deamworld's ride was free once you paid general park gate price so they could not claim lack of passengers.
  Gaz170 Junior Train Controller

Location: Gold Coast
If it's going to cost $1 billion to fix the line, surely the money would be better spent on lines that actually serve a purpose now.

I've said it before, unless you can convince someone like James Packer or Clive Palmer to buy the line and run it as an oversized trainset, the line is finished.
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
I assume the younger members realise the fate of this and similar lines within economic trucking distance of state borders was sealed by the Privy Council decision in 1954 in the Hughes and Vale case which ruled that the states' system of licensing interstate road transport contravened section 92 of the Australian Constitution. If the load crossed the border it was deemed an interstate load and free of certain taxes and restrictions so cheaper road transport costs. Any load that went to the port of Brisbane by road from northern NSW benefited. Any load that border hopped from Northern NSW into QLD and back to Sydney via a QLD "truck depot" also benefited by the border hopping tactics just so long as the distance involved cost less to the truck operator than the state permit fee, provided you could get the permit. Getting permits was another matter as the NSWGR tried to keep the freight types they liked and off loaded what they did not like to road transport.
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
Maybe Country RIC or whatever they call themselves this week could offer an expressions of interest lease out like they did with the Cowra line to see if they get a bite, I wouldn't hold my breath though, if it ever opens again it would have to be funded by the Gov and to put things into perspective you have to look at the Sydney projects funding to relize just how much money gets pumped into the city.
They do seem to pull funding out of their arses but don't really care about bush infrastructure, like an old Signaller once told me, they don't relize there is a railway north of the Hawksbury.
  ivahri Train Controller

I'm sorry but I have to say it... what absolute cr@p...

Do you know how many BILLIONS have been spent on the highway up the coast? The people getting killed by trucks or drunk/asleep/negligent drivers on single lane goat tracks aren't all from Sydney, many were from local families... not to mention the trauma your local emergency services have dealt with over the years. Those roads get used- the rail lines didn't get used so instead of blaming decisions made in Sydney, locals should look in the mirror.

And money out of their backsides? Really? Do you know there are more people going to be living in the SW land release area than the entire north coast from Port Macquarie to the border. So cut it out... these new residents deserve these services and if you don't like the relative lack of services in the bush pack your bags and move down here & try paying the rent or mortgage we do.

Self pity is fine in my books but some of the gripes from the north coast verge on delusion.

Cheers

Richard
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
I note the bulk of the earlier posts here including mine are about the line in general and not the Byron Bay proposal to run RM shuttle service between the station and a large private motel/ resort type place. After we visited Byron Bay yesterday and checked the actual locations involved I offer the following thoughts. This rail motor proposal only involves 3km section of track usage between Bayshore Drive and the Byron Bay Train station with total trip basically within the town northern suburban and industrial area. In other words, just a tourist accommodation operator's private shuttle bus service on rails. Noted yesterday the town station is the main long distance transit terminal and the other local buses also gather there. Also saw the Countrylink bus at the town station yesterday arvo.
  Coastboy7 Locomotive Fireman

I note the bulk of the earlier posts here including mine are about the line in general and not the Byron Bay proposal to run RM shuttle service between the station and a large private motel/ resort type place. After we visited Byron Bay yesterday and checked the actual locations involved I offer the following thoughts. This rail motor proposal only involves 3km section of track usage between Bayshore Drive and the Byron Bay Train station with total trip basically within the town northern suburban and industrial area. In other words, just a tourist accommodation operator's private shuttle bus service on rails. Noted yesterday the town station is the main long distance transit terminal and the other local buses also gather there. Also saw the Countrylink bus at the town station yesterday arvo.
"petan"



Yes, as a nearby resident in lennox head, my understanding of the proposal for the railmotor service over this short distance into town will not only service the developers site, but also look to reduce the traffic into the CBD of byron by offering a "park and ride" solution from the large sporting complex into the town centre, to help reduce the number of cars in town which chokes the place during not just peak season, but most of the year.  Byron gets millions of visitors every year and is basically "loved to death" With only one road in and out of town, and authorities unable or unwilling to find another solution, I think this is an excellent idea. Hope it gets off the ground.
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

Rail trail study recommends removing track

 Staff reporters
It has been welcomed by rail trail enthusiasts, but condemned by those wanting light rail: a state government-commissioned study released Friday gives a strong case for a regional rail trail but suggests removing existing track to accommodate foot and cycle traffic ‘in a majority of locations’.
The Casino to Murwillumbah Rail Trail Study comes in at 68 pages, cost $80,000 according to the deputy premier’s office, and estimates a rail trail will cost $75.5 million and that it would add 88,320 visitors the region per annum.
Consultancy company Arup were commissioned after the Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study was released in 2011. But that study, which cost an astonishing $2m and totalled 130 pages, inexplicably omitted light rail as an option, only surveyed a small percentage of the entire line, bloated costs and estimations which were at odds with previous studies and largely ignored Byron Bay’s traffic congestion and exceptionally high tourist numbers.
And while the state government and rail contractor John Holland refused to disclose to The Echo the cost and quality of rail maintenance work – if any – being undertaken in the area, the new rail trail study claims that there is an ‘approximate annual budget of $750,000 allocated for the purpose of maintaining the corridor’.

Track removal
The report suggests removing the existing track to accommodate foot and cycle traffic, dashing the hopes of the line co-existing with light rail. ‘In a majority of locations,’ the report says, ‘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’.
But it’s not all bad news; the study says, ‘Byron Bay forms the focal point for the rail trail and it would be logical to consider Byron Bay as the starting point for the rail trail development.’ Additionally, the ‘section from Murwillumbah to the shire boundary at Yelgun could be timed for delivery to coincide with a similar progression north from Byron Bay’.

Supporters and opponents
Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc has supported the move, with spokesperson Marie Lawton saying it confirmed the trail would ‘create strong benefits for the northern rivers region and that the project is likely to be viable’.
‘By developing a cycling, walking, horse riding trail along the disused railway corridor, the community and visitors to our region will be ensuring the whole corridor is kept in public ownership for our future population,’ she said.
But Greens NSW MP and transport spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, slammed the study, describing it as ‘a blatant exercise in justifying a pre-determined outcome’.
‘Converting the Casino-Murwillumbah line to a rail trail would be a death knell to any hope the northern rivers would have access to the same levels of public transport as other areas of New South Wales.
‘The estimated cost of the rail trail will be $75 million which comes to around $600,000 per km. Railway lines in regional Victoria have been reinstated at half the estimated cost per kilometre of this rail trail.
‘These funds should be used to reinstate the railway line, starting with the Casino to Lismore leg, not tearing up vital infrastructure.
‘The report suggests that the rail trail would attract 97,000 visitors a year based on a comparison with the Murray to Mountains Trail in northern Victoria. What the report fails to mention is that towns along this trail such as Chiltern and Wangaratta have functioning railway stations.
‘At the end of the day, despite what this report claims, a bike trail cannot be a replacement for public transport for the population centres of the north coast,’ Dr Faruqi said.

Grab The Rail
Surprisingly the report supports the proposal put forward by residents’ group Grab The Rail, which is at odds with mayor Simon Richardson’s advice and position.
Grab The Rail, made up largely of residents likely to be adversely affected by a Butler Street bypass, is promoting ‘an alternative vehicular bypass through Byron Bay town centre utilising a section of the rail corridor from the existing Shirley Street level crossing to Old Bangalow Road level crossing, a length of approximately 2.5km.’
Unlike other sections of the 130km track, ‘the corridor width in the vicinity of the proposed [Grab The Rail] bypass is generous, particularly around the Byron Bay Station locality… and [it] is considered likely that a shared corridor could be laid out that meets the needs of both a rail trail and road bypass.’

Byron’s light rail
Ironically, the fossil fuel sector is leading the charge for light rail in Byron Shire.
Queensland-based coal mining baron and owner of the North Byron Beach Resort, Brian Flannery, has plans to establish a railmotor service ‘between the existing Byron Bay station and the proposed North Byron Beach Resort located to the north of Bayshore Drive’.
Entitled ‘Byron Bay Community and Tourist Rail Shuttle’, the report says that as the corridor width is ‘generous’, it will ‘likely allow for both rail and trail to co-exist for the majority of the proposed operating route’.
Meanwhile, ‘Tweed Shire Council are promoting the connection between Murwillumbah Station and the Tweed Regional Gallery as the ideal ‘pilot’ for the development of the trail.’

Funded by gas industry?
While federal and state government grants are identified to help fund the project, the ‘formation of partnerships with business and industry is considered vital to the ongoing viability of the rail trail’.
Remarkably, the report, authored by James Robinson, suggests that the northern rivers region partner with its ‘emerging gas industry’.
‘For example BHP Billiton contributed over $200,000 to the Victorian Coast to Crater Rail Trail.’ But local state MP Don Page (Nationals) told The Echo, ‘The rail trail will be in no way coming from anything to do with gas. It will be funded by state and hopefully federal government.
‘I’ve done the submission to the state government and I’ve been talking to [fellow Nationals federal MP] Kevin Hogan regarding a federal contribution. The state government announced on Friday a Regional Tourism Fund, which contains $110m, [and] I expect after treasury checks out the Arup report they will indicate the state government’s response financially. I expect this to be positive.’
As for ongoing funding, the report suggests reallocating the $750,000 of ongoing maintenance funding, ‘until such times as the rail trail derives sufficient income and funding revenue from other areas’.

Rally organised
A snap action rally is planned this Wednesday morning from 9am at Don Page’s Ballina office, and will include TOOT (Trains On Our Tracks), Northern Rivers Greens, Northern Rivers Guardians.
Mathew Townsend from the Ballina Greens and The Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) says, ‘I am deeply concerned about our rail line being destroyed by a rail trail project, because it does not solve so many problems within our region. The purpose of this is to stop the political favour and short sighted of the Northern River’s public transport infrastructure issues.’
The report can be found at http://bit.ly/TXZ9RM.

http://www.echo.net.au/2014/06/rail-trail-study-recommends-removing-track/
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

North Lismore rail bridge taken down
  Comments (1) »


 
 MODERNISATION: An excavator dismantles the railway bridge on Woodlawn Rd, North Lismore. Mireille Merlet-Shaw  

IT MIGHT have taken weeks of hard labour to build a century ago, but it was a lazy Sunday afternoon's work to tear it down.

The timber railway bridge over Woodlawn St in North Lismore was demolished yesterday in just a few hours after it was deemed a hazard earlier this year by the NSW Department of Transport.

Opened in 1896, the Wood

lawn St bridge gradually fell into disrepair following the closure of the Murwillumbah to Casino rail line in 2004, until its rotting timbers apparently posed a threat to passing motorists and pedestrians.

It's quite hard to believe just eight years ago the failing bridge had supported trains many times its weight.

But that was another era.

Yesterday it was an excavator with a claw, not a passing train that was the star of the show, while men in safety gear watched on and dump trucks waited to cart the timber away.

The recycled timber will be available for sale at Richmond Sand and Gravel Landscaping Supplies in Elliott Rd, South Lismore.

 
 DEMOLISHED: It took four hours to remove the bridge. Mireille Merlet-Shaw  

The bridge is the first of two rotting railway bridges scheduled for destruction by the Transport Department, the other one the low clearance bridge at Binna Burra on Bangalow Road.

Work to remove the latter bridge commenced yesterday but will take until next Friday due to heavier traffic along Bangalow Rd.

"Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) is undertaking works at Woodlawn Road Lismore and Lismore Bangalow Road Binna Burra, as part of the NSW Government's rail infrastructure program across the Country Regional Network.

"This work involves removing the two underbridges," a spokesman said.

"Over time, the bridges have sustained damage, particularly the Binna Burra underbridge which currently has low clearance for heavy vehicles. Removal of the bridges will ensure the access roads that pass under these bridges remain safe for use."

Despite calls for the reinstatement of rail services on the track, or the $75.5 million rail trail option supported by the NSW Government, no-one appeared to be missing the old bridge last week. It would have needed a complete reconstruction to even accommodate trains in the future.

It was also not essential to the viability of a rail trail for cyclists and pedestrians, according to Northern Rivers Rail Trail public liaison officer Marie Lawton.

 
 OLD NEWS: Sections of the old timber built in 1896.

http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/north-lismore-rail-bridge-taken-down/2289729/
  nswtrains Chief Commissioner

What, $75.5 million to keep some peddle pushers happy. No way. There is no way any money should be spent on the route, either for rail or any other purpose. Most people living in Byron have plenty of luxury cars to transport them around. Lack of public transport keeps down the ferals.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Forget it. This project is way too expensive for a gold plated bike track.

Preserve the rail easement and track and wait for population growth and the return of services.

I h e not read any reports about freight possibilities on that line. Are there any ?
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

Forget it. This project is way too expensive for a gold plated bike track.

Preserve the rail easement and track and wait for population growth and the return of services.

I h e not read any reports about freight possibilities on that line. Are there any ?
freightgate

No, but local resort in Byron wanted to overhaul 3.5 kms to run a local service but the government has not given them approval yet.
  a6et Minister for Railways

No, but local resort in Byron wanted to overhaul 3.5 kms to run a local service but the government has not given them approval yet.
boromisa

I wonder why?  Is the government scared that if the short run is successful then the cries will be for a full reopening, & a case may be found for it? as highly improbable as that may be, knowing how politicians work when a set against something is part of their thinking, then anything that may be seen as an obstacle, no matter how small, is enough to delay, stall & delay procrastinate over it.

While the short wooden bridges at North Lismore & the one on the Bangalow roads removal are evidence that the line is basically gone, the biggest obstacle to it ever getting going again is the long trestle bridge at Lismore, it would be totally unsafe now, & the cost to replace would be far too expensive anyway.

While I still believe the best option is to open the line to Lismore itself, I doubt if that would happen now, as too much time has elapsed since moves to get it going again. Sadly the abortive turn round at Casino as well as the terrible bus services are the only thing that may continue for the time being.
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

I wonder why? Is the government scared that if the short run is successful then the cries will be for a full reopening, & a case may be found for it? as highly improbable as that may be, knowing how politicians work when a set against something is part of their thinking, then anything that may be seen as an obstacle, no matter how small, is enough to delay, stall & delay procrastinate over it.
a6et

They seemed to be quite opposed to anything to do with this line... probably there are some vested interests involved... perhaps a developer who is a significant donor to Nats/Libs?

While the short wooden bridges at North Lismore & the one on the Bangalow roads removal are evidence that the line is basically gone, the biggest obstacle to it ever getting going again is the long trestle bridge at Lismore, it would be totally unsafe now, & the cost to replace would be far too expensive anyway.

While I still believe the best option is to open the line to Lismore itself, I doubt if that would happen now, as too much time has elapsed since moves to get it going again. Sadly the abortive turn round at Casino as well as the terrible bus services are the only thing that may continue for the time being.

Bridges are gone, off course... 10 years of no maintenance... The important thing is that corridor has to be preserved if any trains are to run in future. On tourist numbers alone it would be reasonable to reopen to at least Byron Bay.... and maybe let them run local services?!

The real issue is that rail is not a big issue for the country politicians... If you follow the contemporary issue is polls and wires and country infrastructure got exempted from privatisation... because the community campaign was so good that they rattled so many Nats that they got worried enough to do something about that.

Having said that it will be interesting now that Don Page (local member) is retiring. If local campaign group (TOOT) and Northern Rivers Rail Alliance could run some sort of effective campaign maybe there would be a remote chance.... it doesn't help that they are decided to side with the Greens and not talk to others.
  a6et Minister for Railways

They seemed to be quite opposed to anything to do with this line... probably there are some vested interests involved... perhaps a developer who is a significant donor to Nats/Libs?


Bridges are gone, off course... 10 years of no maintenance... The important thing is that corridor has to be preserved if any trains are to run in future. On tourist numbers alone it would be reasonable to reopen to at least Byron Bay.... and maybe let them run local services?!

The real issue is that rail is not a big issue for the country politicians... If you follow the contemporary issue is polls and wires and country infrastructure got exempted from privatisation... because the community campaign was so good that they rattled so many Nats that they got worried enough to do something about that.

Having said that it will be interesting now that Don Page (local member) is retiring. If local campaign group (TOOT) and Northern Rivers Rail Alliance could run some sort of effective campaign maybe there would be a remote chance.... it doesn't help that they are decided to side with the Greens and not talk to others.
boromisa

Over the years I have & still do support the line & retention, along with possible future reopening, however as time goes on the reality is that it is highly unlikely to happen, costs are too high, likewise there is absolutely no interest from any operator to get any freight onto rail.

Lismore being the largest centre on the line used to have a fair amount of passengers, now there are hardly any. In the days of the old GC motor rail service there were a lot of locals, especially young people who would buy seats on the train from both Casino & Lismore to Byron & return for a day at the beach, that's no longer feasible with the current services, & likely no chance of loco hauled services to a similar TT to allow it to work again.

Politicians always have their vested interests in a huge way, if they have them in the trucking industry, then they want them to stay in business, be it local or city based.  As such I really cannot see (sadly) that there is any traffic that could go to rail on the line anymore, no likelihood of fruit etc as there is no longer access into the Sydney markets or even the Newcastle one, no milk sidings left either, & the list goes on.

Yes its fine to keep the ROW, but over time that too will have the substructures weakened, thus a full new formations would need to be built. As I say, sadly I cannot see it happening.
  barryc Chief Train Controller

Location: Waiting for a train to Canungra
Aaargh! Funny I seem to begin posts on this topic this way regularly.  

Repeat after me: 1  There is no way the existing line will serve the needs of the area.
                       2  Light rail is not needed as most of the local public transport needs have always been provided by bus and will                                 continue to be so.

Just look at the map. The railway line serves Lismore, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah.  (BTW Murwillumbah is abbreviated to Mur bah by the locals - not Mull bah as someone here persistently posts).

It does not serve Alstonville, Ballina, Lennox Head, Brunswick Heads or Ocean Shores.  Nor does it serve any of the suburbs of Lismore other than North and South Lismore, but then it doesn't actually go to the CBD, Lismore Square, Lismore Base Hospital or Southern Cross University.

It doesn't serve outlying commuter villages such as Goolmangar, Nimbin, The Channon, Modanville or Dunoon, although it does serve Bexhill and Eltham but not Clunes.

Even at Byron Bay, it misses the new developments at Ewingsdale.

It was great to catch the train to Byron Bay in the morning and get the late train back in the afternoon.  But that was 50 years ago when there were no houses at Wategoes Beach and the Bay was still a grubby industrial town.  My son and his friends would occasionally do the same when we lived there in the 1980s, although by then our local station (Bexhill) was reduced to rubble. However, it is a bit indulgent to keep a facility like this just for school holiday amusement.

Give it up guys.  It's a dead horse. Lift the track on this and all the other "service suspended" lines and do whatever. It would make a great rail trail but that's another matter.
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

Aaargh! Funny I seem to begin posts on this topic this way regularly.

Repeat after me: 1 There is no way the existing line will serve the needs of the area.
2 Light rail is not needed as most of the local public transport needs have always been provided by bus and will continue to be so.

Just look at the map. The railway line serves Lismore, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah. (BTW Murwillumbah is abbreviated to Mur bah by the locals - not Mull bah as someone here persistently posts).

It does not serve Alstonville, Ballina, Lennox Head, Brunswick Heads or Ocean Shores. Nor does it serve any of the suburbs of Lismore other than North and South Lismore, but then it doesn't actually go to the CBD, Lismore Square, Lismore Base Hospital or Southern Cross University.

It doesn't serve outlying commuter villages such as Goolmangar, Nimbin, The Channon, Modanville or Dunoon, although it does serve Bexhill and Eltham but not Clunes.

Even at Byron Bay, it misses the new developments at Ewingsdale.

It was great to catch the train to Byron Bay in the morning and get the late train back in the afternoon. But that was 50 years ago when there were no houses at Wategoes Beach and the Bay was still a grubby industrial town. My son and his friends would occasionally do the same when we lived there in the 1980s, although by then our local station (Bexhill) was reduced to rubble. However, it is a bit indulgent to keep a facility like this just for school holiday amusement.

Give it up guys. It's a dead horse. Lift the track on this and all the other "service suspended" lines and do whatever. It would make a great rail trail but that's another matter.
barryc

Gotta love when a supposedly a rail fan supports lifting the tracks.
  billybaxter Chief Commissioner

Location: Bosnia Park, Fairfield
Gotta love when a supposedly a rail fan supports lifting the tracks.
boromisa

But he sounds like he knows what he's talking about. Defending a lost cause is not a good look either, especially if people think that lost cause is costing them another primary teacher, police officer, two hospital beds or whatever.
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
Past Governments have cost us dearly,  it will eventually cost us the Cowra line for good, look at the millions being thrown about in the State budget, how do they cry poor?
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Forget it. This project is way too expensive for a gold plated bike track.

Preserve the rail easement and track and wait for population growth and the return of services.

I h e not read any reports about freight possibilities on that line. Are there any ?
freightgate


There's 536,000 people living on the Gold Coast so there may be some demand for a freight terminal on the southern side of the border. Cairns, with a similar consumer/tourist economy and a population of 153,000 (the Far North regional population including Cairns is 278,000) generates enough freight for Aurizon and PN to each run daily 650m intermodal services into that city. The issue for Gold Coast freight is the reasonable proximity of the Acacia Ridge intermodal terminal to the north and the proposed Bromelton terminal on the existing Brisbane line that will be even closer to the Gold Coast.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
The Gold Coast is too close to Brisbane to make rail freight a viable option.
Its primarily residential so what freight there is goes by road .
Rail needs long distances to compete with road.
Similar problem exists with Canberra, 350K people but not a single freight train comes here.
Too close to Sydney, so road freight wins.

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