The Trail

What is the NRRT Inc.’s policy on Trains?

NRRT Inc is consistent and aligned with Rail Trails Australia. Which is to support viable rail services, over a rail trail.

Also see.

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What about Trains?

• Studies have shown that improved bus services are the best way to improve the region transport needs – bus services already replicate the train service
• Patronage demand and population density doesn’t support the investment required for an operational safe rail service
• Existing rail corridor doesn’t connect with major population centres (e.g. Tweed or Ballina)
• Estimated to cost in excess of $900million-to return rail services.
• Would need to be built as one project
Transport for NSW Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study

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Why do NRRT Inc. propose a Rail Trail?

Following the detailed investigation into the transport requirements of the region in 2013, the state government declared that restoration of rail in the medium term was not an option due to costs and changed population centers.

View Transport for NSW Casino to Murwillumbah transport study

The NRRT Inc. built on the existing community support which proposed an alternative use for the rail corridor as a Rail Trail which would deliver recreation, social and health benefits to its users and economic benefits to the region.

It would provide safe opportunities for families, bicycle tourists, mountain bike riders, outdoor education groups, horse riders and walkers to experience a major part of the Northern Rivers landscape. Like other recreation trails, a rail trail would provide opportunities for local businesses such as bed and breakfasts, cafes, restaurants, tour guides, equipment hire and camping.

Rail trails around the world are popular tourist attractions, bringing economic benefits to rural towns and villages which would otherwise be in decline. Rail trail tourists are often high yielding, middle aged, well-educated, cycling enthusiasts…
Numerous examples around the world show rail trails attract millions of dollars in tourist spending and create multiple jobs to service trail users.

A rail trail would increase opportunities for local residents to walk or cycle, for leisure or to commute, and this brings many benefits. Walking to or from work, school, public transport or local shops can provide the 30 minutes of daily physical activity adults need for good health.

The disused rail corridor is overgrown with weeds, while valuable rail heritage such as bridges and railway stations continues to deteriorate unchecked. Establishing a rail trail would ensure the corridor is maintained.

Weeds would be controlled, bush could be regenerated, stations could be revitalised and possibly transformed into cafes or other uses, and heritage-listed items would be maintained.

View NRRT Inc. Proposal document

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Can the Rail Trail co-exist with trains (multi modal)?

It is possible to run a rail trail and train side by side in some situations but in this case the dual use of the corridor is not feasible in many sections of the track and would add significant costs to this project. 

It is more efficient for the Rail Trail to be constructed on the disused rail formation than beside it. The condition assessment for the Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study found most of the existing sleepers, ballast and bridges would need to be replaced if train services were ever restored. Removing the existing infrastructure to build a rail trail does not stop the return of train services in the future. Rather, it preserves the formation in better condition than it is now and makes it easier to install new ballast and sleepers, replace the rails and run trains.

Private enterprise rail based tourist attractions which require the Rail Trail to be constructed off the existing rail formation would make the Rail Trail more expensive to build. Government funding would not be available for this type of commercial operation. The extra costs to build the Rail Trail off formation would be at the private operator’s expense.

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Will the Rail Trail protect the corridor from being sold off?

Yes, the Rail Trail will become a ‘Rail Bank’. By using the rail corridor for a Rail Trail it will remain in public ownership in the hands of the State Government. A change in legislation is required to allow a Rail Trail to use the rail corridor. This will not diminish the protection of the corridor or change the ownership. The legislation will state that the corridor can only be for the use as a rail trail.

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Is the Rail Trail feasible?

Ready – Tweed Council has been fully funded by state and federal government to a sum of $13 million  to complete 1st section from Murwillumbah to Crabbs Creek.

• Yes – proven by independent analysis
• Yes – has Government backing
• Yes – Payback period of only 4-5 years
• Benefit cost ratio of in excess of 2.5 (e.g. for every $1 invested there is more than a $2.50 return)
• Can be constructed in stages
• Estimated to cost less than $75.5 million to construct
• Worldwide experience shows rail trails create multiple jobs and attract millions of dollars in spending

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Who can use the Rail Trail?

  • Walkers
  • Runners
  • Cyclists
  • Electric bikes
  • People in wheelchairs
  • Mobility scooters
  • In selected locations horse riders
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Why can’t the rails stay in place?

The formation that supports the sleepers and rails is an excellent base for a trail and reduces the cost of construction. Engineering advice says that building the trail with the rails in place would cause major maintenance and safety issues.

Where the old railway line goes through tunnels or cuttings there is insufficient room to construct the trail beside the tracks. Where the old line is on a high embankment, there would be significant increased cost in building the trail beside it.

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