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PLANS to create a world class rail trail from Casino to Murwillumbah are still very much alive despite talk that a commuter train service might one day return to the line.
The new Byron Bay solar train service, owned by Elements of Byron, has sparked much discussion about the possibility of a genuine train service being reinstated on the full 132km line.
However, Elements of Byron resort owner Brian Flannery has stated publicly that there are no plans to extend the new train line beyond the resort.
Nor is there any government will to fork out the substantial money required to refurbish a line which does not pass through two of the major population centres of the region, Ballina and Tweed Heads.
On the other hand, momentum towards the construction of a rail trail to preserve the corridor in public hands is continuing to build.
The Northern Rivers Rail Trail group says it has achieved a lot this year, including:
State MPs Thomas George (Lismore) and Geoff Provest (Tweed) have launched a petition calling for support for the Murwillumbah Rail Trail.Contributed
About the Northern Rivers Rail Trail
Deep in the north of New South Wales, sitting along the coastline, is a region called the Northern Rivers. Here the mighty Richmond and Tweed rivers flow down from rainforest covered mountains, through wide sugar cane or cattle filled valleys, to meet the warm Pacific Ocean. The subtropical sunlight and heavy rains keep nature a deep lush green and support the rich soil farmed for macadamias and bananas. There are no huge cities here, only a couple of large country towns and numerous small villages, where locals choose a peaceful rural lifestyle. Running through many of these villages and their valleys is a now overgrown and derelict railway line which an inspired group of locals are keen to transform into a public path, to be known as the 'Northern Rivers Rail Trail' (NRRT).
Completed, the NRRT will run the full length of the old train track. East from the beef capital of Casino to the coastal town of Byron Bay and on north to terminate in the historic town of Murwillumbah. The 132 kilometre trail will run over numerous old bridges and through many tunnels. It will be open to everyone. Trail travellers will walk, cycle, Segway, scoot or horse ride their way along, enjoying the Northern Rivers fresh air and scenery.
Part of the proposed Northern Rivers Rail Trail.Digby Hildreth
A highlight for the rail trail traveller will be the villages along the line, where they will be able to eat, drink and sightsee before moving on. These settlements have a long historical connection to the railway line, the train being for many years the only major transport for people and business within the region. Some villages were established upon the train's arrival and existing villages flourished with the opportunities it brought. Every village is unique, in location, history and character, enriching the visitors trail experience.
In 2018, we will take you on a Northern Rivers Rail Trail Road Trip reporting from each of these fascinating station villages, introducing you to some of the locals and their communities.
This article first appeared on www.northernstar.com.au
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