Rail trail would be unlikely to be funded by State – Page

A PROPOSED rail trail for the disused Casino to Murwillumbah line is unlikely to be funded by the State Government, says North Coast Minister, Don Page.

The terms of reference for the rail trail scoping study were released yesterday.

Mr Page admitted the cost of building the rail trail would be significant, and that it was likely Federal funds would be needed to make it a reality.

"The State Government will fund the study," he said.

"And we already spend a lot of money on the maintenance of the rail corridor.

"Building the rail trail initially will be the biggest single cost ... I do not see that being funded by the State Government.

"The rail trail in Victoria was paid for by the Federal Government."

The terms of reference include consideration of a light rail option for the planned North Byron Beach Resort at the old Becton site.

"The developers want to explore having a light rail for their guests to travel in and out of town," Mr Page said.

"That was raised with me a few months ago.

"Obviously they think it would be something that would benefit their resort.

"We'll be looking to see whether that's compatible with the rail trail."

The scoping study will also look at the staging of the establishment of the rail trail.

Mr Page said the section between Byron Bay and Bangalow would be a natural starting point.

The economic, environmental and social benefits and impacts will be assessed as well as the cost, including information on existing bridges and other alternatives for crossing creeks and gullies.

Importantly, Mr Page said, the study will ensure the rail corridor is preserved for the re-introduction of rail services, should a viable economic model become available.

"We intend to keep the corridor in public ownership," he said.

Mr Page hopes to have the report six months after the tender is awarded.

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