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Northern Rivers Rail Trail - Trail Description



Northern Rivers Rail Trail

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Type: Rail trail
Location: North East NSW, via Lismore and Byron Bay
Start/end: Casino to Murwillumbah
Status: Possible
Length open: 0km
Terrain: Hilly and scenic
Features: tourist
Contact Region: Country NSW & ACT
Murwillumbah, on the picturesque Tweed River, will be the start of the rail trail. (2016)
Murwillumbah, on the picturesque Tweed River, will be the start of the rail trail. (2016)
Not yet open



 This rail trail is Not Yet Open.

UPCOMING WORKS: You may notice some people on the section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail from Casino to Bentley over the next few months. They will be conducting a variety of works necessary for the rail trail project, including minor vegetation clearing and access point upgrades, spraying of noxious weeds in conjunction with the clearing, a biodiversity assessment, and an aerial survey commencing beginning of June.

This proposed 128km rail trail in the far north east region of NSW would make a unique rail trail for many reasons:

  • It would traverse a 'World Heritage' region and pass right through the heart of an internationally renowned tourism hotspot, Byron Bay.
  • Murwillumbah is the closest town to Mt Warning and the adjacent hinterland, and only an hour away from the Gold Coast and Cooloongatta airport.
  • This area is renowned for its good weather and wonderful scenery


The development of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail is being managed by Northern Rivers Rail Trail Inc. (NRRT Inc), which includes community members, businesses and the three councils.

NRRT Inc propose to build the rail trail in stages; the first stage being the Tweed Shire section from Murwillumbah south to Crabbes Creek.

This 24km section passes through lush rolling hills and includes several tunnels. 

As noted above, the picturesque town of Murwillumbah is close to the large population centres of Tweed Heads and the Gold Coast, and less than 30 minutes from the Coolangatta/Gold Coast airport making access easy for visitors further away.

Packed into this 24 km are the regional art gallery and several villages to distract rail trail users and provide refreshments.

Background Information

The Casino to Murwillumbah railway line stopped all operation in 2004.

The line connected the town of Casino (on the Sydney to Brisbane main line) with Lismore, Byron Bay and Murwillumbah. The first section opened between Lismore and Murwillumbah in 1894, connecting the Richmond and Tweed Rivers. Passengers and goods were transported to Sydney by coastal shipping from Byron Bay. Nine years later, an extension from Lismore to Casino opened (and later south to Grafton - it was not until 1932 that the line was fully connected to Sydney). As early as 1889, feasibility talks took place into extending the line north from Murwillumbah into Queensland. The line became a branch line in 1930 when the North Coast main line was extended from Kyogle into South Brisbane.

Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study

Following significant community request for the return of passenger train, Transport for NSW completed the Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study in 2013.

The Study investigated the feasibility, benefits and costs of reinstating passenger services on the disused Casino to Murwillumbah rail line in the context of the current and future transport needs of people living in the study area, and the potential connections to the South East Queensland public transport network.


The Study found that the rail line would not meet current or future transport needs and there were no significant opportunities with freight or tourism that could improve its viability.

It determined that the rail infrastructure has deteriorated significantly, and more than $900 million would be needed to carry out all the work required to ensure the system fully complied with current safety and operating standards for frequent and reliable train services.

The rail line does not serve the major growth corridor between Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay as well as the rapidly growing Tweed region and connections to South East Queensland.


The Study recommended investigating improving bus services to provide more people with frequent, cost-effective public transport to key destinations, rather than reinstating the rail line. Improvements could include increased services on key routes, better integration of timetables between services, changing other routes to include key destinations such as education campuses and hospitals, introducing new express services on the Pacific and Bruxner Highways and improving passenger information.It recommended that the rail remain closed. The study noted that there is community interest in using sections of the rail line for a rail trail and, subject to stakeholder interest, this could be investigated further to test costs, benefits and feasibility.

To view a PDF copy of the study click HERE. (4.3MB)

The corridor has 145 timber bridges, 13 steel bridges and 9 substantial tunnels, and reinstating and maintaining rail service to current safety standards will be an expensive option.

Rail Trail Feasibility Study

The Casino to Murwillumbah Rail Trail Study was commissioned by Ballina MP Don Page following the release of the Transport study. It was released in June 2014 and states that a 130km rail trail on the Casino to Murwillumbah corridor would have economic benefits to the local communities as well as creating employment opportunities.  Given the large number of timber bridges and tunnels on the corridor the estimated cost of construction is $75 million, with an estimated annual cost for maintenance between $884,000 to $ 1.15M.

This is significantly less than the cost of returning the train and would pay for itself within five years, the report says.

To see the full report click HERE


The official Northern Rivers Rail Trail website

To go to the facebook page click HERE

For further Information; contact Marie Lawton on or phone 0434 552 283

June 2020

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29 October , 2014 by Gordo

This enthralling area of NSW has always impressed me. Recently during a visit, I discovered much of the rail corridor and could not help but notice what an amazing riding experience this would be. Many countries are embracing rail trails and local economies are benefiting from the upturn in eco tourism. Just because a person rides a bike, does not mean that have no money to spend! Unfortunately I am now based on the other side of Australia, but I will support the development of this unique rail corridor wherever I can.

07 October , 2012 by tschier

Check out photos of cyclists taking part in Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter, Northern Region's Hell on Wheels Cycle Tour riding part of this trail. Anyone interested in campaigning to develop this outstanding trail, please contact therese.schier at* *replace the words at with the @ symbol.

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Northern Rivers Rail Trail in NSW will soon be a reality

(Posted: 16/10/20)

Momentus news was received this week --- the second rail trail on a former government rail line in NSW willl become a reality with the passage of legislation for two section of the proposed Northern Rivers Rail Trail.


Casino to Bentley section of Northern Rivers Rail Trail moves a step closer to becoming a reality

(Posted: 31/07/20)

As we wait for the legislation to go through NSW parliament for Tweed Valley Rail Trail corridor to be transfered to crown land, the Casino to Bentley section of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NRRT) moved a step closer to becoming a reality.


What's been happening on the Northern Rivers Rail Trail?

(Posted: 30/10/19)

Although progress seems slow on the proposed Northern Rivers Rail Trail (NRRT) in Northern NSW, there is a lot going on behind the scenes.


Support the Northern Rivers Rail Trail Crowd Funding

(Posted: 25/06/17)

The committee of this potentially wonderful rail trail need to raise funds for a design to apply for construction funding. Closes SOON.


Northern Rivers Rail Trail Feasibility Study released

(Posted: 18/06/14)


The long awaited feasibility study for the Northern Rivers Rail Trail has been released


Northern Rivers Rail Trail proposal

(Posted: 27/08/13)

NSW Government to fund feasibility study into the Northern Rivers Rail Trail.


Casino - Murwillumbah Transport feasibility study released

(Posted: 27/04/13)

The Casino - Murwillumbah Transport Feasibility Study has now been released