The minister for the North Coast of NSW, Don Page MP, announced on Friday 23rd August, that State funding is available for a feasibility study into the development of a rail trail on the disused rail line between Casino and Murwillumbah.
“This announcement of funding comes after the release of the Casino to Murwillumbah Train Study earlier this year, which found more than $900 million would need to be invested to ensure the line met safety and operating standards for frequent and quick train services, and that even if that occurred, it wouldn’t meet the current or future public transport needs of the region because two of the three largest centres (Ballina and Tweed Heads) would not be served,” Mr Page said.
Mr Page said that he believed “The establishment of a rail trail on the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line has enormous potential for the Northern Rivers area of NSW, and is worthy of investigation.”
A feasibility study would assess the cost and benefits of developing a rail trail on the Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor. This would include the staging of its development, the potential enhancement of the regional tourism industry; identify funding sources for the development and maintenance of a rail trail, stakeholder consultation and the preservation of the rail corridor in the event that a rail service was to be reintroduced in the future should a viable economic model become available.
“In the absence of the trains returning, we still have a magnificent asset in the rail corridor which links Casino to Murwillumbah via cities and towns including Lismore, Bangalow, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Billinudgel. The 130km line takes in some of the most impressive vistas in northern NSW, and a rail trail could result in a tourist attraction that could bring millions of dollars a year to the local economy” Mr Page said.
This announcement has been welcomed by other north coast MPs including, Thomas George MP (Lismore), Geoff Provost MP (Tweed), Chris Gulaptis (Clarence), as well as the federal Nationals candidates Kevin Hogan (Page), and Matthew Fraser (Richmond).
Chairperson of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc, Pat Grier, Said this was a great decision for the region. He said that “turning the old disused rail track into a trail for cycling, walking, and community use could be a game changer in helping this region create jobs” He went on to thank the minister for having the foresight and commitment to the North Coast by initiating the feasibility study.
The Terms of Reference for the proposed feasibility study are currently being finalised, and the Government will then call for tenders for the study.
Fur more information on this proposed rail trail click here