Casino to Murwillumbah line to remain closed

 
  kypros1992 Locomotive Fireman

Location: Sydney
Media Release
Transport Study

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  johnboy Chief Commissioner

Location: Up the road from Gulgong
This was expected (by me)!..

The study found that the rail line would not meet current or future transport needs and there was no commercial demand for it to be reinstated to carry freight.

A thorough engineering examination carried out as part of the study confirmed that the infrastructure has deteriorated significantly. More than $900 million would need to be invested to clear the dense 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.

The report found that even if this money was spent the line still would not serve the major growth corridor between Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay and the Tweed district, and would not help people to directly access health, education and social services.

The study recommends investigating improving bus services to provide more people with frequent, cost effective public transport to key destinations, rather than reinstating the rail line. There was recognition that a quality bus network would best meet public transport needs, particularly for disadvantaged people and tourists, and relieve growing congestion in Tweed Heads and Byron Bay. To improve bus services, the study recommends investigating: running more frequent services on five routes changing other routes to include key destinations such as education campuses and hospitals introducing new express services on the Pacific and Bruxner Highways improving timetable integration between services, and improving passenger information.
The Ministers Office:

But will this subject now go away?   Prob not until they close the line and sell the land!
  Xgentric Chief Commissioner

Disappointing, but predictable.  They got the result they wanted. (Which is no surprise!)

I would say that the suggested $900 Million is rather an overstatement.  But even if it were only $9 Million, I doubt if they would spend the money.  $90 Million is probably nearer the mark?  Much of the track is not in all that bad condition.

"The study found that the rail line would not meet current or future transport needs"- ?  The Murwillumbah XPT satisfied the existing transport needs very well, and it was the most popular and cost-effective (i.e. least loss-making) of any of the Countrylink services.

There is indeed a need for much better local bus services, as there is not much of a real customer-friendly bus service at the moment.  They would probably need to be subsidised, as the local private companies don't really provide all that regular services.  And Countrylink buses should be allowed to pick up and set down passengers between Countrylink's existing stops.  (At the moment they aren't permitted to allow trips of under 40 km, I think it is.)  And the drivers aren't equipped to accept fares, requiring pre-booked tickets.

They should at least consider reopening the line to Lismore, as the track from CSI to LSY is still in quite good condition.  As far as I know, Lismore is the only major NSW country town that is not served by rail.  Lismore and Ballina (buses to Lismore) provided quite a proportion of passengers (as did the Gold Coast and Brisbane - but their passengers don't vote in NSW).
  Xgentric Chief Commissioner

P.S. - The Line isn't officially "Closed" - that requires an Act of Parliament.

Still booked "Out Of Service".
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
I agree about the buses, Xgentric, and your solution offered appears to satisfy the requirements without using rail. I'll point out, though, that while it's true that the XPT a decade ago served requirements better than a messy coach network operating to outdated practices, it might not be the "best" way to serve passengers now.

The problem I see as someone who lives nowhere near the centre of the action is that Casino is not well-placed as a hub for Northern Rivers coaches, as it's quite inland.

I'm now going to wait for proposals to build a new line to serve the requirements of the area!
  Xgentric Chief Commissioner

Hi, W - Yes, Casino is away from where the action is, apart from Countrylink coaches to meet the now Casino XPT.  And as well as being inland, it's a not a major centre, having a population of around 10,000.

There are bus companies up and down the area, at Tweed, Murwillumbah, Brunswick Heads, Ballina and Lismore, just to name a few.  Being private companies, they are constrained to balance services against potential profits and costs.

And I wouldn't be surprised, if in decades to come, when they might think about a new railway, they might wish they had preserved what the previously had?  A new line would probably follow the coast, starting at Coolangatta Airport (linking with QR's planned line), then Kingscliff and coastal centres, Byron Bay, linking with Ballina (which used to have a branch line many years ago), and then across to Lismore.  But I probably won't still be around to see it!
  Black Hoppers Chief Train Controller

Location: Banned
I agree about the buses, Xgentric, and your solution offered appears to satisfy the requirements without using rail. I'll point out, though, that while it's true that the XPT a decade ago served requirements better than a messy coach network operating to outdated practices, it might not be the "best" way to serve passengers now.

The problem I see as someone who lives nowhere near the centre of the action is that Casino is not well-placed as a hub for Northern Rivers coaches, as it's quite inland.

I'm now going to wait for proposals to build a new line to serve the requirements of the area!
"Watson374"


Yes paging the experts on all things rail your thread is now open again.
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Waiting to see a zebra using a zebra crossing!
Someone will the search skills could probably tell us how many times this Casino Murwillumbah Ballina rail topic has been previously discussed on Railpage. Each time the same points are repeated over and over again, including the factual, emotional and downright fantasy land suggestions and myths. I really doubt if some of the diehards ever comprehended the factual remarks several knowledgeable folk offered last time.
  Xgentric Chief Commissioner

I'm inclined to agree, Petan.  My thoughts were that there may be new but interested members who weren't familiar with all the previous aging posts?
  johnboy Chief Commissioner

Location: Up the road from Gulgong
P.S. - The Line isn't officially "Closed" - that requires an Act of Parliament.

Still booked "Out Of Service".
Xgentric
Did someone suggest the line is closed?
  Xgentric Chief Commissioner

- Just from the title of the thread.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Hi, W - Yes, Casino is away from where the action is, apart from Countrylink coaches to meet the now Casino XPT.  And as well as being inland, it's a not a major centre, having a population of around 10,000.
"Xgentric"
I believe that is why much of the focus is on somehow making Lismore the hub for transport, as it is already the hub for basically everything else; this is a sentiment I'm starting to glean from both member statements/assertions/fantasies as well as from the latest Study.

There are bus companies up and down the area, at Tweed, Murwillumbah, Brunswick Heads, Ballina and Lismore, just to name a few.  Being private companies, they are constrained to balance services against potential profits and costs.
"Xgentric"
Naturally, but it is worth noting that this also leads to poor coordination of timetabling, one issue among many raised in the Study. A more integrated timetable, and perhaps some level of alliance/interlining, could be an effective private-sector means of improving service.

And I wouldn't be surprised, if in decades to come, when they might think about a new railway, they might wish they had preserved what the previously had?  A new line would probably follow the coast, starting at Coolangatta Airport (linking with QR's planned line), then Kingscliff and coastal centres, Byron Bay, linking with Ballina (which used to have a branch line many years ago), and then across to Lismore.  But I probably won't still be around to see it!
"Xgentric"
This I agree with, as it would serve what has been delineated as the growth corridor for the Northern Rivers region; this would allow connections to the QR network, offering a more worthwhile set of intermediate destinations than mere Kyogle on the way to Brisbane.

Someone will the search skills could probably tell us how many times this Casino Murwillumbah Ballina rail topic has been previously discussed on Railpage.
"petan"
There is apparently a 200 page thread on this very topic, but I've never managed to find it.

Each time the same points are repeated over and over again, including the factual, emotional and downright fantasy land suggestions and myths.
"petan"
Indeed. I'm reading the Study tonight, and so far I haven't read anything new. By and large, it is a politely-worded repetition of what we already know, all the way down to noting that the majority of potential users being concession holders.

I really doubt if some of the diehards ever comprehended the factual remarks several knowledgeable folk offered last time.
"petan"
They never do.
  Junction box Chief Commissioner

Location: newy
Let me guess, they have no money to fix the track, the state is broke and so are the Feds.
It should never of been allowed to fall into disrepair.
  konkos Assistant Commissioner

Location: Live next door to half-bar
Having read it all before and agree with most of the line being closed, I now wonder what would happen if somehow in the future a private company found coal or other products which would bring in money into the Govts purse.  The whole ball game would change.  Govts can change their minds as it's been done in the past.  I am not suggesting anything underhand deal but if the powers to be can see a future for them and heavens forbid something good to come to the area then it's a different ball game - but I'm dreaming again am I not.
konkos
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Let me guess, they have no money to fix the track, the state is broke and so are the Feds.
"Junction box"
Read the report. It's not a viable proposition.

Having read it all before and agree with most of the line being closed, I now wonder what would happen if somehow in the future a private company found coal or other products which would bring in money into the Govts purse.  The whole ball game would change.  Govts can change their minds as it's been done in the past.  I am not suggesting anything underhand deal but if the powers to be can see a future for them and heavens forbid something good to come to the area then it's a different ball game - but I'm dreaming again am I not.
"konkos"
You're not dreaming. The Study specifically mentions the lack of a viable freight-carrying task both at present and in the projected future as a reason for non-viability.
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

The biggest problem is that this line sits in a number of safe National electorates. Any government tends to cut services in safe electorates and not to open new services, re-open the closed, etc. So if they want to see ANY infrastructure apart from the Pacific Highway they need to be more pragmatic how they vote.  

No one could have reasonably expected that these people will re-open the line. After all they are using services of Jeff Kenneth who killed the most of country railways in Victoria.

As for the report I encourage you to go and have a look at the track assessment. There is a map of how much they actually inspected and it's not a lot! How much would it costs to do a proper assessment? No wonder it would cost 900 million after all the nerds did their fancy cover page reports there wouldn't be much left.

The issue is that the governments do not want to have responsibility for anything! Contract it out to your private sector mates, get a free lunch and few donations for your party. Everyone is winning. Except the punter.

I refuse the argument that railways need to be profitable to be viable. It's a public service, it's an investment in the community. If we looked at it that way we would not have ambulance, police or fire services. Fair enough high speed train to West Wyalong is not possible, but this area is full of tourist and has a quite healthy population.

As for the resolution I think actually the best thing for the local communities to look at possibility of reopening the line themselves. Federal Govt may be interested in assisting (I think one of the Federal seats up there is marginal Labor).

  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
I refuse the argument that railways need to be profitable to be viable. It's a public service, it's an investment in the community. If we looked at it that way we would not have ambulance, police or fire services. Fair enough high speed train to West Wyalong is not possible, but this area is full of tourist and has a quite healthy population.
"boromisa"
Sure they don't need to be profitable, but they damn well need to be the best investment that the government can make; the research indicates that the Murwillumbah branch line does not serve the growth corridor of the Northern Rivers, and that a significantly improved coach/bus network in the area will deliver more benefit for far less cost.

In any case, how exactly does spending 900 million to revive a line that had one XPT a day benefit the Northern Rivers, especially when compared to more ambulances, police and/or fire services?
  7006 Locomotive Driver

The biggest problem is that this line sits in a number of safe National electorates. Any government tends to cut services in safe electorates and not to open new services, re-open the closed, etc. So if they want to see ANY infrastructure apart from the Pacific Highway they need to be more pragmatic how they vote.  

No one could have reasonably expected that these people will re-open the line. After all they are using services of Jeff Kenneth who killed the most of country railways in Victoria.

As for the report I encourage you to go and have a look at the track assessment. There is a map of how much they actually inspected and it's not a lot! How much would it costs to do a proper assessment? No wonder it would cost 900 million after all the nerds did their fancy cover page reports there wouldn't be much left.

The issue is that the governments do not want to have responsibility for anything! Contract it out to your private sector mates, get a free lunch and few donations for your party. Everyone is winning. Except the punter.

I refuse the argument that railways need to be profitable to be viable. It's a public service, it's an investment in the community. If we looked at it that way we would not have ambulance, police or fire services. Fair enough high speed train to West Wyalong is not possible, but this area is full of tourist and has a quite healthy population.

As for the resolution I think actually the best thing for the local communities to look at possibility of reopening the line themselves. Federal Govt may be interested in assisting (I think one of the Federal seats up there is marginal Labor).

boromisa
"As for the resolution I think actually the best thing for the local communities to look at possibility of reopening the line themselves. Federal Govt may be interested in assisting (I think one of the Federal seats up there is marginal Labor)." And who will apply for the Railway Accreditation? Sorry but the line is dead and this was the final nail in the coffin. I expect track and bridges will be pulled up and rails scrap.
  Mrs_O Station Master

Location: At a Station near You!
Pretty much the nail in in the coffin for this line now... so would the idea of turning it into a RailTrail like the Fernleigh track be a good idea?
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
....
I refuse the argument that railways need to be profitable to be viable.
boromisa

Yep and that would be socialism Shocked
The state won't give a Gonski unless the Feds gave a Gonski however some short railway line in one part of NSW is hardly on this state's let alone the national agenda.
  MD Chief Commissioner

Location: Canbera
Yep and that would be socialism Shocked
The state won't give a Gonski unless the Feds gave a Gonski however some short railway line in one part of NSW is hardly on this state's let alone the national agenda.
cootanee
I read the entire report, and it seems pretty fair and balanced.
Providing public transport does not equal providing trains , which unfortunately is what most rail fans seem to think.
The major population growth centres in the area were identified as Tweed Heads and Ballina, neither of which a rail solution will fix.
An enhanced bus service , which can be provided for far less than $900 million seems the most logical outcome.
The number of timber bridges on the line which will have to be replaced seems to be the major killer.
Worth pointing out that the Cooma line was closed simply because of 1 bridge which had to be replaced.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
I read the entire report, and it seems pretty fair and balanced.
Providing public transport does not equal providing trains , which unfortunately is what most rail fans seem to think.
The major population growth centres in the area were identified as Tweed Heads and Ballina, neither of which a rail solution will fix.
An enhanced bus service , which can be provided for far less than $900 million seems the most logical outcome.
The number of timber bridges on the line which will have to be replaced seems to be the major killer.
Worth pointing out that the Cooma line was closed simply because of 1 bridge which had to be replaced.
"MD"

MD, you are my hero.
  boromisa Junior Train Controller

Yep and that would be socialism Shocked
The state won't give a Gonski unless the Feds gave a Gonski however some short railway line in one part of NSW is hardly on this state's let alone the national agenda.
cootanee

Nothing wrong with socialism.

You just need to look at Scandinavian countries which are capitalist countries with heavy state involvement akin to socialism. Perfect public services including transport. You just need to look at the train line to Narvik in Sweden. Very cold country and very sparsely populated. It surely does not cover the costs but it is a public service. Did they feel the GFC? NO. Because of strong employment and state involvement in everything.

But again you cannot expect the Government that wants to cut Newcastle line and sell the land to their developer mates to reopen Casino - M'bah line. I hope that they don't sell the land, certainly it would be worth a lot especially around Byron.

Funny that you mentioned the Gonski 8)

Someone mentioned that it does not serve the transport needs of community. I think that person needs to drive from Casino to Lismore to Byron around Easter, New Years, Splendour etc. I have done it. Roads are clogged! Certainly the line does not serve any purpose north of Byron since there is not much population but I think it should have been re-opened at least to Byron. Further the line passes right near Splendour and Blues Fest sites! Yes, the XPT was Sydney oriented but there is certainly much demand for commuter services around the area. Finally the TOOT people did not help their cause by demanding light rail. It's not Surry Hills!
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
It's not Surry Hills!
"boromisa"
Precisely Rolling Eyes
  Otter_H Locomotive Fireman

Narvik is in Norway and is the export terminal for the iron ore mines in northern Sweden. wasn't much of a passenger rail service there when i passed through last year, admittedly didn't speak to anyone.

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