Debate over the future of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line.
Debate over the future of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line.

Readers debate the future of Casino to M'bah rail corridor

IN RESPONSE to our special feature on the closure of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line in 2004 and a related opinion piece by editor David Kirkpatrick, readers shared their thoughts - and their opinions varied wildly across different platforms.

On The Northern Star's website comments section, all but two readers posted comments in favour of the idea.

LAST TRAIN: The day our rail service fell silent

Damonson, from Uki, wrote that "I emphasise with the loss of the train in our region but after 13 years it is really time to move on as the trains are simply not coming back on this corridor".

Marie Lawton wrote that it was "sad about the train, but it is time to stop grieving and move on to a fantastic alternative".

Will Jeffery argued that "people are not getting the messsage" that no funding was available for the train and the choice was a "Community Trail or simply nothing at all".

"Our Community Trail will be a complete antidote for loneliness and social isolation and a recipe for a new more equitable distribution of tourism income right around the region, instead of it being concentrated on the coast," he wrote.

Another comment, by Peter, added that the government was to be congratulated on its support for the rail trail concept which was backed up by a "well argued and costed feasibility".

"A rail trail would develop a community of interest in protecting the corridor that would help stop a sell-off as happened to the Booyong Ballina line after the war," he said.

E-Meter, from Currumbin, said "Trains would be better, but it's just not going to happen. Governments hate building railway lines in more populated areas. So this route has got no chance."

A debate over whether Northern NSW had the right climate for a rail trail was also fleshed out, with most people agreeing the region has a great climate for the outdoor pursuit.

This was sparked by comments by "TrainGuy01" that "our less than optimal subtropical climate means it would not be used for half of the year".

In response Tshanasy disagreed, saying "Our region offers arguably the best weather within the best weathered country in the world".

Geoff Bensley wrote that several other successful rail trails had a much more extreme climate than the Northern Rivers, including the Otago Central Trail Trail in New Zealand, where temperatures ranged from 35 degrees in summer to as low as minus 21 in winter.

Dave from Ballina argued that our region has the "PERFECT temperature for all year round cycling".

However, the tone of the comments in response to our editor David Kirkpatrick's opinion piece arguing it was time to go ahead with the rail trail were quite different, with the majority of readers posted negative comments.

Put the pedal down on rail trail: OPINION

Rod Bruem wrote that the "the corridor should be preserved for rail or light rail. The costs of restoring it were exaggerated... Our state government is loaded with cash and it's time more came to this region. Can't think of a better project."

Ange Burgler wrote that the rail trail was "a huge waste of money with no return that would actually go into maintaining it", accusing the "government and the rail trail group" of "BS".

Matt Cox accused The Northern Star of being "hopelessy biased" (the piece was clearly marked opinion), and said a rail trail would have "washed away" in the recent floods. (Most of the trail line is designed to stay out of floods).

Wayne Brown argued that councils would not be able to afford to maintain the trail.

Rhett Herbert said the rail trail wouldn't work "in this area land mass to population does note equate!!" (It would be promoted as much to tourists as to locals, so as to boost the local economy).

But Paul James Mitchell said the rail trail was a fine idea, arguing that "if nothing else will preserve the corridor for future use... In the meantime, I'd love to be able to ride my horse to Byron Bay and beyond via the said rail trail!"

On a lighter note, Chris Bell wrote: "At the moment it's a great motocross trail except for the bit at Binna Burra where some vandal took away the whole bridge."

The bridge was removed by the RMS for safety reasons.

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