This 1945 red rattler is set to call Byron Bay home from November, with work commencing May 23 to prepare the track and build the two platforms at Sunrise and the Byron CBD.
This 1945 red rattler is set to call Byron Bay home from November, with work commencing May 23 to prepare the track and build the two platforms at Sunrise and the Byron CBD. Contributed

Byron train will bring “romance” back to the Bay - for some

THE NEW Byron Bay train running between Elements of Byron resort in Sunrise and the Byron CBD is set undertake its maiden 3.4km voyage within months.

The resort has appointed a contractor which will start work on May 23 clearing the track and building two new platforms.

Byron’s very own Thomas - a refurbished 1945 “red rattler” - will live in its own shed built beside the new platform at Bayshore Drive.

But all is not well in paradise.

Some Sunrise residents are still upset over the prospect of a train running behind their backyards every 30 minutes.

Sunrise Progress Association spokesman Lee Cass said Elements had failed to address residents’ concerns about diesel pollution, and there was no evidence the train’s 1970s engine had been fitted with a filter used in modern diesel engines.

This 1945 red rattler is set to call Byron Bay home from November, with work commencing May 23 to prepare the track and build the two platforms at Sunrise and the Byron CBD.
This 1945 red rattler is set to call Byron Bay home from November, with work commencing May 23 to prepare the track and build the two platforms at Sunrise and the Byron CBD. Contributed

Mr Cass added that the talk about the train one day converting to solar was “spin”, claiming such technology was either not possible or too expensive.

He also argued the train was unlikely to be used by locals, who – even in a bad Ewingsdale Rd traffic jam – would probably just stay in their cars rather than drive to Bayshore Drive and pay $6 for a two-way journey.

However all the claims have been refuted by Elements’ project manager Jeremy Holmes, who described some of them as “propaganda”.

“Every component of the proposal has been attacked in some way,” Mr Holmes said.

He said the train’s Cummins diesel engine was the same as a medium truck or bus, rather than a heavy locomotive, had a “fuel limiter” and would run at one third throttle power.

Engineers had already modelled a solar conversion for the train – estimated at $300,000 – and the company had put aside some money to do so.

“Our number one priority is getting the service up and running and making sure it’s viable... and we’re working on this in the background,” he said, adding that a solar train was “very Byron” and would be a great drawcard.

The project has also been endorsed by Byron-born rail advocates TOOT, who have been campaigning for trains to return to the rail corridor since the NSW Government ended them in 2004.

Mr Holmes said the train would add a new element to the Byron tourism experience, an inexpensive attraction for the 1.5 million visitors coming to Byron each year.

“It’s a tourism product in its own right... it gives people a chance to reconnect with the heritage of rail... it’s nice to relive that romance.”



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