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Northern Rivers Rail Trail - Trail Description

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Trail

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
Leycester Creek Bridge, Lismore
Leycester Creek Bridge, Lismore
Not yet open
legend

Details

Features

 This rail trail is not yet Open.

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 Condong to Yelgun and Casino to Bentley sections of the rail corridor for Stage One - Tweed Valley Rail Trail and Stage Two - Casino to Bentley Rail Trail respectively, were officially closed by the NSW State Parliament in October 2020.
  • This paves the way for construction to start on Stage One in early 2021 and the trail to be opened in 2022. The Richmond Valley Council is moving forward on stage 2 with a construction date to be announced in early 2021.
  • At present the NRRT committee are preparing an ePetition to present to State Parliament to secure funding for the Stage 3 Bentley to Eltham section in the Lismore Council area. The Council is being urged to move forward with the rail trail but at present has no funding.
  • The Byron Council is currently not supportive of the rail trail.
  • The NRRT Committee and its supporters envisage that eventually the whole corridor will be a Rail Trail.

Description

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.

STAGE 1: TWEED VALLEY RAIL TRAIL –The Condong to Crabbes Creek section is 24 kms and is fully funded by State and Federal Governments. Construction is due to start in early 2021 and the rall trail should be operational in just under 2 years.

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

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 24km section are the regional art gallery and several villages to attract rail trail users and provide refreshments.

STAGE 2: CASINO TO BENTLEY RAIL TRAIL  - 13.5kms funded by the Federal Government for $7.5M. A draft master plan has commenced and has to be completed by December 2020. The complete design is scheduled to be completed by February 2021.

STAGE 3: LISMORE SECTION [No name as yet] – Bentley to Booyong for a total of 37.1kms. This sectio is made up of Bentley to Lismore 16.3 kms, Lismore to Etham 15.5 kms, and Etham to Booyong 5.9 kms.

Council has included the rail trail as one of its top 5 projects to apply for grant funding. The rail trail is high on its list for its sport and recreation plan. There is currently a NSW petition asking for funding for the section between Bentley and Etham with over 1520 signatures to date.The petition will run until 5 January 2021.

STAGE 4: THE BYRON LINE – Multi modal for the use of trains and rail trail. Currently the Council is concentrating on the section from Sunrise in Byron to Tyagarah. It is hoping to get funding to clear the line so that the engineering company can view the bridges in detail. This will be at a cost of around $200,000.

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.

Findings

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.

Recommendations

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

Links

The official Northern Rivers Rail Trail website

To go to the facebook page click HERE

For further Information; contact Marie Lawton on marie.lawton@northernriversrailtrail.org.au or phone 0434 552 283

December 2020

To advertise your rail trail support business on this page, please click here.

Contact Us About This Trail

Email or click here: nsw@railtrails.org.au.

Photos

Comments

Comments

3 comments

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17 December , 2020 by murbahcycles@gmail.com

Finally, the Northern Rivers Rail Trail has become a reality after the line was officially closed in Parliament this October. The cycling fraternity in the Northern Rivers and Tweed Valley region cannot wait to see this trail start construction in early 2021 with the first section from Murwillumbah to Crabbes Creek with a return distance of 48km. The scenery on this rail trail is magic and very unique. We are over the moon!

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. www.facebook.com/helirescue Anyone interested in campaigning to develop this outstanding trail, please contact therese.schier at* gmail.com *replace the words at with the @ symbol.

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News

News

New bicycle shop in heritage listed railway station on the Tweed Valley Rail Trail

(Posted: 23/03/21)

As we wait for the awarding of the contract and design for the construction of the Tweed Valley Rail Trail in NSW, it’s a positive step forward for the town of Murwillumbah to see Murwillumbah Cycles take up residence in the heritage listed Murwillumbah Station.

More...

Works begins on Northern Rivers Rail Trail

(Posted: 12/01/21)

The beginning of a brand new year, and the beginning of a brand new rail trail.

More...

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.

More...

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.

More...

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.

More...

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.

More...

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

More...

Northern Rivers Rail Trail proposal

(Posted: 27/08/13)

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

More...

Casino - Murwillumbah Transport feasibility study released

(Posted: 27/04/13)

The Casino - Murwillumbah Transport Feasibility Study has now been released

More...