Why isn't Council supporting bringing back trains?

    The NSW Government’s Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study examined the feasibility, benefits, and costs of reinstating passenger services on the 130km line. The study found the rail line would not meet current or future transport needs because the line did not service two of the three biggest centres in the region: Tweed Heads and Ballina. 

    It also found there was no commercial demand for it to be reinstated to carry freight. An engineering examination found the infrastructure has deteriorated significantly with more than $900 million needed to clear the vegetation, stabilise landslide areas, replace timber bridges and sleepers, extensive replacement of ballast and bring the system up to the current safety and operating standards for frequent and quick train services.

    An outcome of the Casino to Murwillumbah Transport Study was the recognition that the region’s transport needs would be better met through an integrated approach and that there was potential for the Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor to be converted to a rail trail for use by pedestrians and cyclists. 

    What will happen to the heritage stations, rail bridges and tunnels?

    Protecting rail heritage is an important benefit of a rail trail. Tunnels will be retained, and bridges retained where possible, with necessary measures put in place to ensure the safety of rail trail users. Stations would be preserved and hopefully revitalised and converted into commercial hubs servicing rail trail users.

    What benefits will the trail bring to the community?

    Rail trails around the world are popular tourist attractions, bringing economic benefits to rural towns and villages. Businesses that can flourish include B&Bs, cafes, bakeries, art galleries, farm produce, wineries, caravan parks, bike shops etc. For rail trail users and the wider community, the benefits include recreation, social and health benefits.

    A rail trail also would ensure the corridor is maintained, free of weeds, and that some of the existing and decaying rail infrastructure would be restored.

    How landowners benefit from the rail trail through business opportunities is up to them and their entrepreneurship. However, Council’s Economic Development Team will be actively working with those who express an interest in a business venture to maximise that opportunity and their success. 

    Is Horse riding allowed on the rail trail?

    While many rail trails do not allow horse riding, a final decision on the Bentley to Lismore section of the rail trail has yet to be decided. The Bentley to Lismore section of the rail trail presents a challenging natural environment which includes 28 railway bridges and we need to ensure the rail trail is a safe shared space for users.

    It is early days for the Bentley to Lismore rail trail and there remains many aspects of the operational environment that need to be better understood.


    What if somebody comes onto my land and steals or damages some of my property?

    • The same laws that protect people everywhere in NSW would protect rail trail users, adjacent landowners and property, and would be enforceable by police.
    • Removing existing overgrown vegetation along the rail corridor would minimise hiding places and create long sight distances. The regular presence of rail trail users would provide passive surveillance, reducing the likelihood of crime.

    My property backs onto the rail corridor. What if somebody trespasses on my land and gets injured? Am I liable?

    • Concerns about trespassing are a regular theme for rail trails throughout the world. Concerns are commonly expressed during the initial phases, but trespassing is extremely rare, or non-existent, in practice. Typical rail trail users are not the type of people likely to trespass.

    • A rail trail would be a public thoroughfare, the same as a road. The situation would be no different from somebody trespassing via a road, driveway or the existing disused rail corridor. If somebody trespasses on private land and hurts themselves, the landowner cannot be held liable unless they were shown to be negligent. The onus would be on the trespasser to prove negligence.

    • Landowners may already have public liability insurance included in their home and contents or farm insurance packages. Public liability while on the rail corridor would be the responsibility of the Principal Contractor. The Principal Contractor will be required to have public liability insurance in place.

    There are a lot of weeds on the rail corridor. What will happen to them? How will they be stopped from spreading?

    The corridor will be cleared of obstructing vegetation. Weeds will be identified and disposed of appropriately.

    A maintenance program for the rail trail would include weed management.

    Is Council going to fence the entire corridor to keep people separate from stock and adjacent private lands?

    This issue will be assessed during design on a case-by-case basis and fencing would be installed if it is necessary to:

    • separate rail trail users from farm operations
    • clearly delineate areas where access is prohibited

    How will emergencies be managed?

    • There will be an emergency management plan for the rail trail. Emergency access points will be included in the design.

    I have paddocks on both sides of the rail corridor and frequently transfer stock across the line. Will I still be able to do this if a rail trail is established?

    Yes, existing farm access will be maintained. Gates and fencing will be installed to separate rail trail users from stock being moved across the corridor.

    Will people dump rubbish?

    This will be addressed during design.

    My house is close to the rail line. A rail trail will reduce my privacy. What will be done to avoid this?

    • Where houses are close to the proposed rail trail, the site would be inspected, and the resident/owner consulted. Measures to maintain residents' privacy would be implemented. This might include planting trees to form a screen or, in extreme cases, installing screen fencing or detouring the trail to keep it away from houses.

    What if somebody starts a fire on the rail trail?

    • The rail corridor will be maintained when it becomes a rail trail and will be less prone to bushfire risk. Some landowners have expressed concerns around the risk of unintentional fire-lighting and ways to mitigate this risk will be looked at in detail in the design phase of the project.

    • A well maintained rail trail has the potential to act as a firebreak and would be more accessible to the Rural Fire Service should there be a fire.

    How will motorcycles be kept off the trail?

    Motorcycles will not be permitted on the rail trail. Access control measures such as bollards, locked gates, stiles and chicanes will be considered to prevent access to the trail by motorbikes.