Light rail or lie trail?

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Trains on our Tracks (TOOT) president Karin Kolbe has accused Don Page and other north coast politicians of lying to the public about their intentions for north coast rail in order to garner their votes.

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Support Builds for Light Rail Service

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Trains On Our Tracks

BYRON Shire Council has given its unanimous support behind a proposal for a light rail service to run between the town and the North Beach Byron Resort at Belongil. The motion to support the light rail plan was put to the council at its ordinary meeting on Thursday by deputy mayor, Diane Woods and was passed with no opposition from fellow councillors. The proposal, by the developers of the North Byron Beach Resort, is for a community and tourist rail shuttle service that would use a leased vintage 660 series railmotor that can seat 100 people to transport people back and forth between the resort and the CBD, utilising 3km of railway track. The project would cost close to $1million in capital works and offer 10 shuttle services a day at a $3 one way fare. The proposal is before the State Government and if approved, the first rail service could occur by December 2014. In a report to the council, the developers said that overall the track appears to be in good condition, while the repair of the Belongil Creek Bridge is anticipated to cost between $250,000 – $350,000. “I think this will be an absolutely fantastic solution to transport between town and the resort, the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival and for residents at Sunrise Beach,” Cr Woods said. “Hopefully this may also open up a fuller service operating between the CBD and the Bluesfest site at Tyagarah,” she said. The plan has been welcomed by local rail supporters, the TOOT, Trains on our Tracks group. “It confirms the viability of light rail in the Northern Rivers,” president of TOOT Karin Kolbe said. “Their plan for shared use of the Belongil bridge by both rail and cyclists/walkers demonstrates that the corridor can be shared. “Once the initial service is established, it can then be extended further along the Casino-Murwillumbah rail line”. Cr Woods said the council owns the land adjacent to North Beach Byron’s proposed tavern and said the land, “may be suitable for parking which would benefit any future park and ride proposals.” Source: Megan Kinninment, http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/support-builds-for-light-rail-service/2115298/

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Byron is Tooting for Rail

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Photo: Oran Viriyincy THE State Government’s report into the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line may seem like the end of the line to many rail enthusiasts, but not for Byron mayor Simon Richardson. The report has been widely criticised by the Greens and local rail advocacy group TOOT, who say the costs quoted in the report ($900 million to restore rail services) are “unbelievable”. The report recommends the line remain closed and that improvements to bus services are the best way to address the region’s public transport needs. But Byron Council passed a mayoral minute at their meeting last week to the Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian, and also Minister for Local Government and the North Coast Don Page, pointing out numerous deficiencies and omissions in the report. “The State Government got the report they wanted,” Cr Richardson said. He is requesting that a light rail service for the Byron region, specifically Yelgun to Bangalow, be investigated and is calling for council to facilitate a potential users group. He said festival organisers for both the Bluesfest site at Tyagarah and the Splendour in the Grass site at Yelgun would be well-served by a light rail service. Bluesfest organisers were looing at “running two to three events a year” and Splendour organisers have said they have approval for three events per year at their Yelgun site. Cr Richardson said both “could benefit from a light rail service to Byron.” A spokeswoman for Splendour in the Grass said the festival organisers had approval only for up to three events per year at the site. Cr Richardson recently returned from visiting a volunteer-run steam train service from the Adelaide Hills to Victor Harbour in South Australia. It is run by the Australian Railways Historical Society and Cr Richardson has invited them to join the Byron users group forum, along with youth representatives, market organisers and other community transport advocates. Fellow Byron councillor Basil Cameron, who is also a member of TOOT, is trying to revive a plan to have a “park-and-ride” option that would take people from outlying areas of Byron into town to alleviate traffic congestion. Source: Andy Parks, http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/byron-is-tooting-for-rail/1868142/

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Train Push Gathers Steam

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Photo: thomask THERE are renewed hopes trains will once again run on the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line. NSW Minister for the North Coast and Ballina MP, Don Page, has announced a tender to evaluate the costs of restoring and maintaining the 130km-long line for heavy or light rail passenger services, a move welcomed by Byron Mayor, Cr Jan Barham. Cr Barham, describing the announcement as “fantastic”, said the reopening of the line would be a major boost for the Far North Coast. “It would change the way the North Coast operates in terms of people having access to the region without having to rely on cars,” she said. “It would be also good for the local young and aged and people who don’t have cars. “We know a train service will be fantastic for young residents and tourists. “It will create a whole new asset for the North Coast – create a rail trail. “It’s such a safe, relaxing way to travel. “I always used to come up (from Sydney) by train. I was a dedicated train traveller.” Cr Barham said she hoped the evaluation would look at local light rail and commuter options. “That would be a good alternative for the Byron Shire,” she said. “A train where you could take your bike or surfboard would be a great thing.” President of Trains on Our Track (TOOT), Karin Kolbe, said she was glad to see some development on the issue, but would like the terms of reference widened. Ms Kolbe said the study seemed to be very narrowly focused on costs, but there was nothing about the benefits. “A rail service will provide many benefits to the region but these are not being examined at all in the proposed study,” she said. “We’d like to see an analysis of having less congestion, particularly in places like Byron Bay. “We’d also like to see the benefits to tourism considered. “We’d also like to see the environmental benefits, like reduced carbon emissions, or better air quality, accounted for. “And with less cars and buses on the road, maintenance costs to council and RTA will be reduced, and this needs to be factored in too.” Mr Page said the government was delivering on its commitment to examine options for the line and broader transport options in the region, which had been supported by a $2 million allocation in the recent Budget. … Read More

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