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AS DISCUSSIONS wage around the possibility of a rail line being re-established on the Northern Rivers, it's worth taking a look into its history.
The need for a rail line between NSW and Queensland started in earnest as far back as 1890.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on a public meeting where it was agreed the Minister of Works was to "take the necessary steps to carry out the proposed railway from Murwillumbah to Lismore without delay."
Just over two years later on May 15, 1894 the railway was opened between the two towns.
Nine years later an extension from Lismore to Casino opened.
An extension was built to Grafton but it wasn't until 1932 that the line was fully connected to Sydney.
In 1930 a branch to Ballina was built but after flooding damaged the line it was suspended in 1948 and officially closed in 1953.
A 'rail motor' service (lighweight trains run with petrol engines) was trialed in 1935 to extend from between Casino and Lismore, all the way to and from Murwillumbah where the arrivals would be in time for services heading to Sydney and Brisbane.
Ominously, it was stated in the Dungog Chronicle that the service's continuance would depend on patronage.
By the 1940s 300 staff were employed at all stations on the line including Brisbane.
After the 1954 cyclone and flood of late February, around 170 men were on the track repairing the damage so normal services could resume.
The rail system was an important link for goods, passengers and mail at this time, so it was always a priority to fix any damage and breakdowns.
From 1973, the Gold Coast Motorail ran a passenger and car transport business between Sydney and Murwillumbah.
XPT at Casino Railway station. Photo The Northern Star ArchivesThe Northern Star Archives
In February 1990 this was replaced by a CountryLink XPT service.
In September 1997, FreightCorp contracted out the operation of freight trains on the line but these services stopped in 2002.
In April 2004, services on the line were suspended and finally closed on May 16, 2004, almost to the day 110 years after it was opened.
Tuesday 11am: INTER-STATE transport agencies will meet in Ballina this afternoon to progress transport and infrastructure projects to better connect South-East Queensland and Northern NSW.
The NSW Cross-Border Commissioner, James McTavish will attend a cross-border transport and planning interagency meeting to assess an array of projects under the QLD-NSW interstate agreement.
It is anticipated the Northern Rivers Rail Trail and the proposed Byron tram line will be discussed at the meeting.
Developer of the new Byron tram line, Peter Finch told the Tweed Daily News that he is calling on the Tweed Shire Council to extend the line into Mooball to create easy access between Byron and Tweed Shire Council.
Key transport priorities under the agreement include: greater efficiencies in delivering flexible border transport solutions ; integrated border bus services and the alignment of priority border road projects.
Local transport is one of four main focus areas for cross-border collaboration.
Regional economic development, aligning services and sharing information and addressing issues of national significance are other key focus areas under the agreement.
This article first appeared on www.northernstar.com.au
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